The Law/Gospel Distinction in Scotland Part 2

What are the major differences between the law and the gospel?  Joel Beeke summarizes John Colquhoun’s 11 distinctions:

1) The law proceeds from the very nature of God; the gospel from his love, grace, and mercy, or his good will to men.

2) The law is known partly by the light of nature, but the gospel is known only by divine revelation.

3) The law regards us as creatures who are capable of yielding perfect obedience; the gospel regards us as sinners who have no strength to perform perfect obedience.

4) The law shows us what we ought to be but not how to become holy; whereas the gospel shows us that we may be made holy through communion with Christ and by the sanctification of his Spirit.

5) The law says, ‘Do this and you shall live;’ the gospel says, ‘Live, for all is already done, believe and you shall be saved.’

6) The law promises eternal life for man’s obedience; the gospel promises eternal life for Christ’s perfect obedience.

7) The law condemns but cannot justify a sinner; the gospel justifies but cannot condemn a sinner who believes in Jesus Christ for salvation.

8) The law, by the Spirit, convicts us of sin and of unrighteousness; the gospel presents the perfect righteousness of Christ to justify a sinner before God.

9) The law shows the sinner that his debt is infinitely great and he can make no payment toward that debt; the gospel tells the sinner that, by Christ’s obedience as his divine Surety, his debt is paid to the last penny.

10) The law irritates the depravity of the sinner and hardens his heart; the gospel melts the sinful heart and subdues depravity.

11) The law, when obeyed, prompts boasting; the gospel discourages all boasting because of the law of faith.

John Colquhoun, A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel, p. xv-xvi.

(Part one of this post is found HERE).

rev. shane lems

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