I’m a preacher and teacher of the bible. Yet, even with the bible open in front of me, I’ve been guilty until recently of the following accusation made by Charles Spurgeon. This excerpt comes from Michael Horton’s article The Law and the Gospel at the White Horse Inn:
As he watched the Baptist Church in England give way to moralism in the so-called “Down-grade Controversy,” Charles Spurgeon declared, “There is no point on which men make greater mistakes than on the relation which exists between the law and the gospel. Some men put the law instead of the gospel; others put gospel instead of the law. A certain class maintains that the law and the gospel are mixed…These men understand not the truth and are false teachers.”
In our day, these categories are once again confused in even the most conservative churches…much of evangelical preaching today softens the Law and confuses the Gospel with exhortations…obedience must not be confused with the Gospel. Our best obedience is corrupted, so how could that be good news? The Gospel is that Christ was crucified for our sins and was raised for our justification. The Gospel produces new life, new experiences, and a new obedience, but too often we confuse the fruit or effects with the Gospel itself.
I have, for a few years, mixed law and gospel in my own mind (this is neonomianism or Galatianism) and so I have been a false teacher as well as a joyless Christian. Grace is not grace where it is mixed with works. In future posts I aim to show how the two are distinct.