How God’s Wrath Equals and Reveals God’s Worth

Jonathan Leeman: The “penal” in the doctrine of penal substitution, being tied to God’s wrath, has long been a source of controversy inside the church and out. It’s criticized as overly “legal” or “forensic.” People want to look to the cross and talk about Christ’s love, not his enduring the divine penalty. But it’s worth stopping for a moment and meditating on what is behind a penalty. What is behind wrath? The answer is God’s worthiness or God’s worth. God’s wrath is equal to God’s worth, and that the “penal” in penal substitution therefore reveals this very worth. Wrath and worth are perfectly matched together. The former takes the measure of the latter and expresses itself accordingly. One is as precious as the other. So drop the “penal” from penal substitution and you diminish God dramatically. Despise his wrath and you despise his worth. To see this, it’s worth meditating for a moment on what the purpose of law is. The Reformers talked about the

read more How God’s Wrath Equals and Reveals God’s Worth

The Law Is Abolished and the Law Continues: Why Matthew and Paul Don’t Disagree

Vern Poythress: Some people might suppose from a superficial reading of Matthew that Matthew asserts almost pure continuity of the law, and enjoins us merely to keep the same old law in the same form as always, only now empowered with the presence of Christ. In fact, however, the coming of Christ is the coming of the kingdom of God, the climactic fulfillment of all to which the Old Testament pointed. Reality supersedes shadows. Hence radical transformation of the law is included. Conversely, some people might suppose from a superficial reading of Paul that Paul primarily asserts only discontinuity in the law. The law is dead and gone, not to be obeyed, virtually irrelevant for Christian living (cf. Eph. 2:15; Rom. 7:1-6; Gal. 2:19). But Paul too sees the law as comprehensively fulfilled in Christ (Rom. 15:4-6; 1 Cor. 10:1-13; cf. Rom. 8:4; 13:10-14). When understood properly it is a most impressive means of communion with Christ (2 Cor. 3:15-18). The apparent differences between Matthew and

read more The Law Is Abolished and the Law Continues: Why Matthew and Paul Don’t Disagree

The Third and Principal Use of the Law

Kevin DeYoung: It’s worth noting, as many have, that the Heidelberg Catechism included its exposition of the Law in the gratitude section and not in the guilt section.  This choice reflects the widespread Reformation belief in the so-called third use of the law.  The law is given (1) to restrain wickedness and (2) to show us our guilt and lead us to Christ.  But, according to Calvin, the “third and principal use” of the law is as an instrument to learn God’s will.  The law doesn’t just show us our sin so we might be drawn to Christ; it shows us how to live as those who belong to Christ. In one sense Christians are no longer under the law.  We are under grace (Rom. 6:14).  We have been released from the law (Rom. 7:6) and its tutelage (Gal. 3).  On the other hand, having been justified by faith, we uphold the law (Rom. 3:31).  Even Christ recoiled at the

read more The Third and Principal Use of the Law

How the Gospel Answers the Law

  Joe Thorn: The law of God has one ministry, and the gospel has another. They do different things, and though both are important only one offers hope, freedom, cleansing, righteousness, and security. The gospel perfectly answers the law on our behalf. The law says, “Thou art a sinner, and therefore thou shalt be damned;” Rom. vii. 2.; 2 Tess. ii. 12. But the gospel says, No; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;” and therefore “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” 1 Tim. i. 15t Acts xvi. 31. Again the law says, “Knowest thou not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God; be not deceived,” 1 Cor. vi. 9. And therefore thou being a sinner, and not righteous, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the gospel says, “God has made Christ to be sin for thee, who knew no sin; that thou mightest be made the righteousness of God in him,

read more How the Gospel Answers the Law