The Sweet Direction of the Law

Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Volume 2 Historic Reformed theology teaches that the law is useful for the Christian in two main ways: 1) to show him his need for Christ by convicting him of sin and 2) to guide him in thankful living for the glory of God (see Westminster Confession of Faith 19.6).  Below are some quotes showing how Francis Turretin (d. 1687) discussed the use of the law for the regenerate.  I appreciate the fact that a clear law/gospel distinction goes hand in hand with the law as a guide for living the Christian life (a “sweet direction” as Turretin calls it).  Here’s Turretin:

“[The law] serves (a) to convince and humble man so that – his own misery and weakness being felt – he despairs of himself and renounces confidence in his own righteousness and merit and rests upon the mercy of God alone.  (b) To lead men to Christ… inasmuch as it compels man – cast down and despairing of his own strength – to seek the remedy of saving grace.”

“…It consequently also directs him already renewed through Christ in the ways of the Lord; serving him as a standard and rule of the most perfect life, to which he is called by Christ and which he ought diligently to pursue (1 Tim. 1:5).”

“Thus the law leads to Christ and Christ leads us back to the law; it leads to Christ as the redeemer and Christ leads to the law, as the leader and director of life.”

“…It is one thing to be under the law as a covenant to acquire life by it (as Adam was) or as a schoolmaster and a prison to guard men until the advent of Christ; [it is another thing] to be under the law as a rule of life, to regulate our morals piously and holily.”

“In the first covenant, man was bound to do this in order that he might live (to deserve life); but in this [covenant of grace] he is bound to do the same (not [so] that he may live, but because he lives) to the possession of the life acquired by Christ and the testimony of a grateful mind (as the apostle in the same place exhorts believers to obedience).”

Francis Turretin, Institutes, volume 2, pages 139-143.

shane lems
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)
hammond wi

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