Part 2 in a series considering Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible by C. F. W. Walther.
The law of God is written on the hearts of all mankind. It was created along with us. It is what God demands of us as people. When the Law is preached to even ungodly people, their conscience will tell them that what they’re hearing is true.
When the Gospel is preached, however, they don’t respond with repentance. Instead, they may react with anger, bitterness or anything else…faith is conspicuously absent.
The Apostle Paul writes,
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. (Romans 2:14-15)
No supernatural revelation was needed to inform them of the moral Law. The Ten Commandments were given only for the purpose of bringing out in bold letters the dulled script of the original Law that had been written on mankind’s heart. (pg. 13)
The Law was given to us at the beginning…written on our hearts, clarified by Moses at Sinai. But the Gospel comes to us in an entirely different way; it comes to us only through an act of the Holy Spirit in the objective testimony of the writers of the New Testament.
Every religion contains portions of the Law. In fact, some unbelievers, by their knowledge of the Law, have advanced so far that they realize that their souls need to be cleansed, that their thoughts and desires need to be purified. But only in the Christian religion will you find the Gospel. Other religions do not contain even a speck of it. (pg. 13, emphasis added)
This, I realize will cut at the foundation of many evangelicals today. To assert that the Gospel is found only in the Christian religion has been dismissed by many emergent (and liberal) writers and thinkers, most recently by George Elerick on Chris Rosebrough‘s program, Fighting for the Faith. This rejection of the exclusive claims of Christianity (which in themselves warrant an entire post or series of posts as to what they include and what they do not include) create a situation in which law and gospel are routinely mingled and confused.
I’ll deal with the mingling of Law and Gospel in future posts since I’m attempting to deal with these topics as they come up in Walther’s book for the sake of organization. Sufficient to say, however, these claims of Walther are something which need to be held up against the light of Scripture; if they are found wanting, they must be summarily dismissed. But if they are found to conform to the Apostles’ teaching, then they must be reckoned with.
And for those of us (myself included) who are Calvinists, I think additional reading would be helpful in Bavinck.