Monday, November 05, 2007

Your Weekly Dose of Gospel
...the reality of sin and the necessity of the law

"For all have sinned, and continually fall short of the holy appraisal of God." -Romans 3:23

by Ichabod Spencer
All, and therefore you, my dear Reader, and myself. We have sinned; that is, we have broken God's law; for 'There is none righteous, no, not one' (Romans 3:10). There is none that has kept the law of God. We have transgressed every precept of His moral law, either in act, word, or evil desire. The charge is heavy, but the verdict is true. Let us consider the case, earnestly entreating God to enlighten our minds. Take the ten commandments into your hand, and read. We have broken the first commandment, by trusting in and loving other things more than God. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart" (Matthew 22:37). In this we have come short. The second respects the manner in which God is to be worshiped, not with outward form and ceremony, but in spirit and truth.

Alas! how deficient have we been in that serious attention, that inward reverence, and that devout affection, which His worship required! God is a jealous God. You say you have never been guilty of profane cursing and swearing, and so think you have kept the third; but have you never in prayer, and in reading the sacred Scriptures, suffered the holy name of God to pass through your lips without an awful sense of what you were doing, or even without thought? "the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain" (Exodus 20:7). Have you always employed the whole Sabbath in those religious exercises which the fourth commandment enjoins; and performed those exercises in such a devout manner, that the law has nothing to charge you with, in thought, word, or deed? Sinner, lay your hand upon your mouth, and plead guilty. Need I go through the second table? Dost thou love thy neighbor as thyself? Hast thou done unto all men as thou wouldst they should do unto thee? Have you never been guilty of disobedience to your parents? Know ye not that every rising of causless anger is murder? (Matthew 5:22) that every unchaste desire is adultery? (Matthew 5:28) that every secret fraud and neglect of affording that succour to the poor which is in your power, is theft? That every uncharitable thought is a breach of the ninth, and every covetous wish a transgression of the tenth commandment?

Surely all have sinned, in doing that which the law forbids, and in not doing that which the law commands. What have I then done; and what have I not done? All have sinned. What is my state? A state of sinfulness and misery. Why have I not felt it till now? Because sin hath blinded my eyes against the light of truth.


donsands said...

I am undone, save for the Savior's cry, "It is finished!" being a cry that swallowed up all my sins, and set me free in this divine holy love and righteousness, accepted by the Father and applied to me, when this Good Shepherd sought this lost sheep and brought him to repentance and faith.

Thank you Jesus. Why would you take my wickedness upon Your perfect and blameless body, and pour out Your precious, precious blood for such a wretch? I'll never know.
All praise and glory to

donsands said...

All praise and glory to His holy Name, the Name above every name, Jesus Christ!

SJ Camp said...

I so appreciate the fact that I. Spencer - as other writers from his era - are so intently biblical. Not like many of the bloggers today who are content to dwell on what is infiltrating Christianity rather than Christianity itself.

Error should never eclipse truth in balance and emphasis. Truth, rightly divided should always be our goal.

2 Tim. 2:15

Terry Rayburn said...


The post is entitled "Your Weekly Dose of Gospel", but there's no Gospel in it, just Law.

By the way, I don't believe the Bible teaches that the preaching of Law must precede the Gospel.

1. All men already know in their hearts the moral law of God, and they know that they are sinners against God, and they suppress that truth in unrighteousness. (Rom. 1:18-20; 2:14-16)

2. The Law has NO power for salvation. But the Gospel does. "It is the power of God for salvation". (Rom. 1:16)

3. There are no New Testament commands, nor New Testament examples for preaching the Law before the Gospel, either in the Book of Acts or in the Epistles.


SJ Camp said...

I appreciate you always.

The aspect of the gospel I was referring to was that of the reality of sin. Romans 3:23 comes as part of the heart of the gospel in Roms. 3:21-26. We don't hear much preaching on "sin and repentance" today when the gospel is being proclaimed; but it is there biblically and should not be ignored.

As to the Law: the law convicts men of their sins and I do agree with you, it is written on their hearts. But even Paul knew the reality of the convicting power of the law and affirmed it: Rom. 7:7 ¶ What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” (Roms. 7:7).

The law is also our "tutor" - pointing us to Christ and that is why it can be of great benefit and importance to include it as we proclaim the gospel of sola fide.

Consider these words of Paul to the churches in Galatia: Gal. 3:19 ¶ Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Gal. 3:20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. Gal. 3:21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. Gal. 3:22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Gal. 3:23 ¶ But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Gal. 3:24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Hopes this helps a bit more to clarify.

I appreciate you brother,
Col. 1:9-14

Terry Rayburn said...


Re Rom. 7:7 --

The context shows that Paul is talking about the power of the Law to pour gasoline on the fire of sin.

Of course Paul knew sin, even before he heard the law. All men do. But he’s making the point that the command or the law itself caused the sin to rise up in him. When he heard “Do not covet”, it made him covet all the more. Such is the heart of a sinner. Nothing in this section has anything to do with evangelism, or the Gospel.

Re Gal. 3:24 --

Here again, context is so important. Paul is not speaking here at all about individual laws which are broken and thus leading us to faith in Christ. He is speaking of a historical progression from the time of Abraham who is promised a Seed which will become the Messiah, through the time of the Old Covenant, which showed how man could not be justified by obedience to any laws, and led finally to the promised Christ, in Whom alone is salvation, through His death, to all who believe.

Speaking of Jews only, Paul says that the Old Covenant was a tutor, but not to show men they were sinful, but that they could not gain righteousness through the keeping of the Law! They already knew they were sinful, but they thought that their so-called good deeds could justify them. And since their good deeds could not justify them, they were led to the Messiah, whose righteousness was offered as a free gift, the only way any of us are saved.

By the way, this is just as true today, that is, that sinners think their so-called good works "justify" them even though they know they are sinful. But of couse, their good works won't justify them.

When we rely on Law preaching to "prepare" them for the Gospel, we are subtly denying the power of the Gospel itself, by attempting to get someone to see their "need" for Christ.

They already know their "need", they will even admit that they deserve Hell, but they don't want the Lord. They are His enemy. That's why you will often hear someone admit they are a rotten sinner, but they make comments like, "I'd rather be in Hell with my friends, than in Heaven with all those goody two-shoes'."

Only when Christ and His righteousness is revealed to them through the Gospel, by the Spirit, will they repent and believe.

Blessings, brother,

Don P said...

Terry, are you saying then, that we should never preach on sin? While I do not usually need to be reminded of my sinful nature, I still like the reminder; it is a suitable form of worship to contemplate the greatness of God's Grace.

Terry Rayburn said...

don p,

The Scripture says that ALL Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, and therefore we certainly SHOULD preach against sin in the course of preaching the whole counsel of God to the Church.

My only point is that the Gospel preached to the unsaved is adequate, and doesn't require the artificial "preparation" of the preaching of specific laws.

I don't use personal experience to "prove" the case, but many of us who have preached the Gospel and have "led" people to Christ can testify that the simple Gospel, as in the "Romans Road", for example, have been used by God to bring many to salvation, without the preaching of specific laws.

I also never offer any man's opinion or creed as "proof" of a view, preferring reasoning from Scripture only. Nevertheless, I agree with the divines of the London Baptist Confession of 1646 who wrote,

"The preaching of the gospel to the conversion of sinners, is absolutely free;

no way requiring as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, or terrors of the law, or preceding ministry of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and ungodly, to receive Christ crucified, dead and buried, and risen again;

who is made a prince and a Savior for such sinners as through the gospel shall be brought to believe on Him."