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Law and Gospel

Peter L. Meney | Added: Apr 10, 2022 | Category: Editorial


Gospel preachers are, says Paul, ‘ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life’ (2 Corinthians 3:7). The letter of which Paul speaks is the Law, so called because it was written in letters graven on stone tables. The Gospel is what Paul means by ‘the spirit’ because it speaks of spiritual things and is applied by God the Holy Spirit.  

A matter of life or death

Paul distinguished between the Law and the Gospel. He called the Law the ministration of condemnation and death, and the Gospel the ministration of righteousness and the Spirit. ‘Ministration’ means ‘bringing’ or ‘conveying’ so God’s Law brings judgment and death while God’s Gospel conveys righteousness and spiritual life.

No mixing of Law and Gospel

Paul is warning us not to mix Law and Gospel. Each has its own role. The Law’s role is to condemn, the Gospel’s gift is to bring mercy. The Law brings all men and women under sentence of death for their own sin, and for Adam’s sin, while the Gospel bestows knowledge of everlasting life to all to whom it comes with power. Our Lord Jesus calls His Gospel the Gospel of life. 

No righteousness by the Law

The Gospel is superior to the Law. There was a glory of sorts in the Law when it reflected God’s holiness and God’s glory, seen in Moses’ face that glowed. But it was temporary and never supplied a way of righteousness. Paul says, ‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth’. The glory of the Gospel infinitely surpasses the glory of the Law. 

Preach the Gospel!

Christian ministers have a duty to speak clearly of the Gospel of life and liberty. The Gospel brings righteousness by imputation, and justification by the free gift of God. All peace and comfort for believers comes by faith and from knowledge of what the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for His people by His substitutionary atonement, and as our Mediator in the covenant of grace. 

Look to Christ alone

If we look for sanctification from our personal obedience to the Law, or seek spiritual comfort under the Law, or even try to employ the Law as our guide in our Christian life, walk and conduct we shall be sorely disappointed. ‘The just shall live by faith’, and Paul tells the Colossians, you have ‘received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him’.