Some other good books

Today is the last day on the sale for biblical theology books at Westminster bookstore. I highly recommend this book for depression, this book for learning how to counsel people, and this book for behavioral disorders.

Law and Gospel

The next section deals with the categories of law and gospel. Again, there are some good things and some not so good things.

The good things: they are willing to affirm that the law and the gospel are applications of the Word to individual people. I especially appreciate the “law as adversary, gospel as deliverance” language used. The redemptive-historical thrust of saying that the “law” was the way the OT covenant of grace was administered and the “gospel” is the way the NT covenant of grace was administered is also helpful.

The question in my mind is this: does the law still function in its first use for the Christian? There is no room in this statement for saying that. The idea here seems to be that if one is a believer, then the law is not your enemy. Period. Of course, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That is admitted by all. But does the law continue to function in its first use (to condemn our sin and point us to Christ)? I would have to conclude that these authors would say “no” to that question. The only use of the law that is still applicatory is the third use of the law.

Second point: have they stripped the gospel of its “good-news-ness” by saying that for the nonbeliever the Gospel has the aroma of death? I would still say that the Gospel is good news even for those who are perishing. We are all perishing. From God’s viewpoint, of course, humans will garner more punishment for themselves by rejecting the good news of the Gospel. However, that still does not solve this point: is the Gospel good news even for the nonbeliever? This is ironic, in some ways, since the FV is concerned with what the NECM (non-elect covenant member) receives, and yet here they deny that good things go to nonbelievers from the Gospel. Are there not common grace implications that the Gospel has? Will not the conversion of the elect prove beneficial to the non-elect? I do not think that unbelievers hear the Gospel as intolerable demand, at least not all of them.

Third point: I have heard and read FV arguments about the hermeneutic of law/gospel, and I am simply not convinced. I do believe that John 3:16 is Gospel, and that Exodus 20 is law. Exodus 20 implies all three uses of the law. The fifth commandment has a promise attached to it. So what? Do this and live also has a promise attached to it. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t law. The promise is achieved by obedience to the law. This is standard first-use of the law terminology. It is not Gospel. The obedience is done by Jesus, and we are the beneficiaries. This is very, very standard Reformed interpretation of the Bible.