Classic Essays and Articles
“The Reformation, however, held to the unity of the covenant of grace in its two dispensations while at the same time sharply contrasting law and gospel. According to the Reformed tradition, law and gospel describe two revelations of the divine will. The law is God’s holy, wise, good, and spiritual will, which on account of sin has now been made powerless, fails to justify, and increases sin and condemnation. The gospel, as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise, has Christ as its content and conveys grace, reconciliation, forgiveness, righteousness, peace, freedom, and life. The law proceeds from God’s holiness, is known from nature, addresses all people, demands perfect righteousness, gives eternal life by works, and condemns. By contrast, the gospel proceeds from God’s grace, is righteousness, produces good works in faith, and acquits. Faith and repentance are always components of gospel, not law. The gospel, therefore, always presupposes the law and differs from it especially in content.” Herman Bavinck (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 4 442).
The law of God is a reflection of the Holy character of God and thus requires perfection as is clearly taught in Matthew 5:48: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” If one violates the law at one point then he has broken all of it (James 10:10-12). Thus, the scriptures clearly teach that the law requires “perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience” and it is Holy because it is a reflection of the nature of God.