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WHAT THE GREAT MEN OF PROTESTANTISM SAY
ABOUT THE LAW OF GOD

Briefly I want to quote from great Protestant churches and great Protestant leaders concerning their position or regard for the Ten Commandments.

Martin Luther

From the book Explanation of Martin Luther's Small Catechism, released by the book committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, I read:

"How many kinds of laws did God give in the Old Testament? Three kinds:
I. The ceremonial church law;
2. The civil law;
3. The moral law. Which of these laws is still in force? The moral law, which is contained in the Ten Commandments. Cannot this law be abolished? No; because it is founded on God's holy and righteous nature."

Martin Luther engaged in several disputations with people who misused his writings to say the ten commandment law was done away with. These disputations have been printed by the Luthern Press in books entitled: "Don't Tell Me That" and "Only the Decalogue is Eternal". Following is a brief quote from chapter One of "Don't Tell Me That":

Repentance is the sadness we experience after committing a specific sin as well as the resolution we then make not to sin in such a way again. Such sadness is the feeling or awareness in our heart or conscience that we have disobeyed the Law of God (the 10 Commandments: Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 6). Many people hear the Law, but because they do not feel the effect or power of the Law in their hearts, experience no sadness, and so are not truly repentant....
In reality, regret is the sorrow or torment experienced by the conscience (whether it wants to or not!) when properly addressed or confronted by the Law.
In the past it was also taught that sin was simply an improper action against man-made institutions. Seldom were sins addressed that were committed against the moral law (the 10 Commandments).

Then we turn to chapter two of the same book and read:

Nowadays there is a novel idea afoot! According to the promoters of this idea, the Law (that is, the 10 Commandments) should be completely removed from the Church. This is nothing else but deplorable and irreverent.
The entire Bible teaches that it is the Law which must initiate repentance.....Sin and death are not exposed by a Word of grace and comfort, but only by the Law.
The Spirit first rebukes the world because of sin ( John 16:8) so that He can then teach faith in Christ, that is, the forgiveness of sins. Paul in Romans held to this way of teaching when he first taught that all people are sinners and then afterwards, that they must become righteous only through Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23, 28).


John Calvin

John Calvin wrote Institutes of Christian Religion

Book 2, Chapter 7
6. That the whole matter may be made clearer, let us take a succinct view of the office and use of the Moral Law. Now this office and use seems to me to consist of three parts.
7. Thus the Law is a kind of mirror. As in a mirror we discover any stains upon our face, so in the Law we behold, first, our impotence; then, in consequence of it, our iniquity; and, finally, the curse, as the consequence of both. He who has no power of following righteousness is necessarily plunged in the mire of iniquity, and this iniquity is immediately followed by the curse. Accordingly, the greater the transgression of which the Law convicts us, the severer the judgment to which we are exposed. To this effect is the Apostle’s declaration, that “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” (Rom. 3:20). By these words, he only points out the first office of the Law as experienced by sinners not yet regenerated.... that divesting themselves of an absurd opinion of their own virtue, they may perceive how they are wholly dependent on the hand of God; that feeling how naked and destitute they are, they may take refuge in his mercy, rely upon it, and cover themselves up entirely with it; renouncing all righteousness and merit, and clinging to mercy alone, as offered in Christ to all who long and look for it in true faith.

10. The second office of the Law is, by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice.
12. The third use of the Law (being also the principal use, and more closely connected with its proper end) has respect to believers in whose hearts the Spirit of God already flourishes and reigns. For although the Law is written and engraven on their hearts by the finger of God, that is, although they are so influenced and actuated by the Spirit, that they desire to obey God, there are two ways in which they still profit in the Law. For it is the best instrument for enabling them daily to learn with greater truth and certainty what that will of the Lord is which they aspire to follow, and to confirm them in this knowledge; just as a servant who desires with all his soul to approve himself to his master, must still observe, and be careful to ascertain his master’s dispositions, that he may comport himself in accommodation to them. Let none of us deem ourselves exempt from this necessity, for none have as yet attained to such a degree of wisdom, as that they may not, by the daily instruction of the Law, advance to a purer knowledge of the Divine will.

13. Some unskilful persons, from not attending to this, boldly discard the whole law of Moses, and do away with both its Tables, imagining it unchristian to adhere to a doctrine which contains the ministration of death. Far from our thoughts be this profane notion.

14. let us distinguish accurately between what has been abrogated in the Law, and what still remains in force. When the Lord declares, that he came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil (Mt. 5:17); that until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or little shall remain unfulfilled; he shows that his advent was not to derogate, in any degree, from the observance of the Law. And justly, since the very end of his coming was to remedy the transgression of the Law. Therefore, the doctrine of the Law has not been infringed by Christ, but remains, that, by teaching, admonishing, rebuking, and correcting, it may fit and prepare us for every good work.

From ONE HUNDRED APHORISMS, book two: #22. Christ is exhibited to men by the Law and by the Gospel.
#23. The Law is threefold:
Ceremonial,
Judicial,
Moral.
The use of the Ceremonial Law is repealed, its effect is perpetual.
The Judicial or Political Law was peculiar to the Jews, and has been set aside,
while that universal justice which is described in the Moral Law remains. The latter, or Moral Law, the object of which is to cherish and maintain godliness and righteousness, is perpetual, and is incumbent on all.
24. The use of the Moral Law is threefold. The first use shows our weakness, unrighteousness, and condemnation; not that we may despair, but that we may flee to Christ. The second is, that those who are not moved by promises, may be urged by the terror of threatenings. The third is, that we may know what is the will of God;

"We must not imagine that the coming of Christ has freed us from the authority of the law: for it is the eternal rule of a devout and holy life, and must, therefore, be as unchangeable, as the justice of God, which it embraced, is constant and uniform."


John Wesley

John Wesley in Sermons on Several Occasions, Vol. 1 XXV wrote:

"The moral law contained in the Ten Commandments, and enforced by the prophets, He (Christ) did not take away. It was not the design of His coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can be broken...Every part of this law must remain in force upon all mankind and in all ages; as not depending either on time or place, or any other circumstances liable to change, but on the nature of God and the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other."

John Wesley said, in his Sermons:

In answer to the claim that at the death of Christ the precepts of the Decalogue had been abolished with the ceremonial law, he replied:
"The moral law, contained in the Ten Commandments and enforced by the prophets, He did not take away. It was not the design of His coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can be broken, which 'stands fast as the faithful witness in heaven.' . . . This was from the beginning of the world, being 'written not on tables of stone,' but on the hearts of all the children of men, when they came out of the hands of the Creator. And however the letters once wrote by the finger of God are now in a great measure defaced by sin, yet can they not wholly be blotted out, while we have any consciousness of good and evil. Every part of this law must remain in force upon all mankind, and in all ages; as not depending either on time or place, or any other circumstances liable to change, but on the nature of God, and the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other.
"'I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.' . . . Without question, His meaning in this place is (consistently with all that goes before and follows after),--I am come to establish it in its fullness, in spite of all the glosses of men: I am come to place in a full and clear view whatsoever was dark or obscure therein: I am come to declare the true and full import of every part of it; to show the length and breadth, the entire extent, of every commandment contained therein, and the height and depth, the inconceivable purity and spirituality of it in all its branches."--Wesley, sermon 25

Wesley declared the perfect harmony of the law and the gospel.
"There is, therefore, the closest connection that can be conceived, between the law and the gospel. On the one hand, the law continually makes way for, and points us to, the gospel; on the other, the gospel continually leads us to a more exact fulfilling of the law. The law, for instance, requires us to love God, to love our neighbor, to be meek, humble, or holy. We feel that we are not sufficient for these things; yea, that 'with man this is impossible;' but we see a promise of God to give us that love, and to make us humble, meek, and holy: we lay hold of this gospel, of these glad tidings; it is done unto us according to our faith; and 'the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us,' through faith which is in Christ Jesus. . . .

"In the highest rank of the enemies of the gospel of Christ," said Wesley, "are they who openly and explicitly 'judge the law' itself, and 'speak evil of the law;' who teach men to break (to dissolve, to loose, to untie the obligation of) not one only, whether of the least or of the greatest, but all the commandments at a stroke. . . . The most surprising of all the circumstances that attend this strong delusion, is that they who are given up to it, really believe that they honor Christ by overthrowing His law, and that they are magnifying His office while they are destroying His doctrine! Yea, they honor Him just as Judas did when he said, 'Hail, Master, and kissed Him.' And He may as justly say to every one of them, 'Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? It is no other than betraying Him with a kiss, to talk of His blood, and take away His crown; to set light by any part of His law, under pretense of advancing His gospel. Nor indeed can anyone escape this charge, who preaches faith in any such a manner as either directly or indirectly tends to set aside any branch of obedience: who preaches Christ so as to disannul, or weaken in any wise, the least of the commandments of God."-- Ibid . 264

To those who urged that "the preaching of the gospel answers all the ends of the law," Wesley replied:
"This we utterly deny. It does not answer the very first end of the law, namely, the convincing men of sin, the awakening those who are still asleep on the brink of hell." The apostle Paul declares that "by the law is the knowledge of sin;" "and not until man is convicted of sin, will he truly feel his need of the atoning blood of Christ. . . . 'They that be whole,' as our Lord Himself observes, 'need not a physician, but they that are sick.' It is absurd, therefore, to offer a physician to them that are whole, or that at least imagine themselves so to be. You are first to convince them that they are sick; otherwise they will not thank you for your labor. It is equally absurd to offer Christ to them whose heart is whole, having never yet been broken."-- Ibid., sermon 35.


The Church of England, from the 39th article of religion, article 7, says:

"Although the law given from God by Moses as touching ceremonies and rites doth not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral."

The Presbyterians, in Westminster Confession of Faith, chapters 19, 20, say:

"The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator who gave it. Neither doth Christ in the gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen, this obligation."

The Baptist Church in New Hampshire Confession, article 12, says:

"We believe that the Law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of his moral government; that it is holy, just, and good." Matthew Simpson, in his Lectures on Preaching, page 129, wrote: "There are many preachers who love to dwell on the Gospel alone. They talk sweetly and beautifully of the fatherhood of God. This is well. It is more than well, it is essential. But sometimes they go beyond this, and declaim against the preaching of the law-intimate that it belongs to a past age, a less civilized society. . . . Such a Gospel may rear a beautiful structure; but its foundation is on the sand. No true edifice can be raised without its foundations being dug deep by repentance toward God, and then shall the rock be reached, and the building shall be through faith in Jesus Christ. The law without Gospel is dark and hopeless; the Gospel without the law is inefficient and powerless."

G. Campbell Morgan, from his book The Ten Commandments, pages 11, 12, says:

"The Ten Words of Sinai were not ten separate Commandments, having no reference to each other. They were ten sides of the one law of God. The teaching of Jesus reveals the fact that these commandments are so interrelated that if a man offend in one point he breaks the unity of the law, and therefore of his own manhood. . . . These words embody a perfect law of life for probationary days.

The Sunday School Times editorial of January 3, 1914, reads:

"While God remains God, His moral law will be binding upon all who would have any part in His life. God's moral law is eternal; it is an expression of His very being. As such it can no more be abrogated than can God himself.... We must, of course, distinguish clearly between the ceremonial law of the Old Testament and the moral law. The eternal requirements of the moral law are always binding upon God's people."

D.L. Moody, in his book Weighed and Wanting, page 11, says:

"Now men may cavil as much as they like about other parts of the Bible, but I never met an honest man that found fault with the Ten Commandments."

He continues, on page 47, "The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This fourth commandment begins with the word 'remember,' showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote the law on the tables of stone at Sinai. how can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?"

C.H. Spurgeon, in his Sermons, 2nd series, page 280, writes:

"The law of God is a divine law, holy, heavenly, perfect. Those who find fault with the law, or in the least degree depreciate it, do not understand its design, and have no right idea of the law itself. Paul says, 'The law is holy, but I am carnal; sold under sin.' In all we ever say concerning justification by faith, we never intend to lower the opinion which our hearers have of the law, for the law is one of the most sublime of God's works. There is not a commandment too many; there is not one too few; but it is so incomparable, that its perfection is a proof of its divinity. No human lawgiver could have given forth such a law as that which we find in the decalogue. It is a perfect law."

Peter H. Eldersveld, radiobroadcaster, in his book Of Law and Love, writes:

"There is nothing wrong with the law. But there is something wrong with us. We know that we should obey it, but we do not obey it. It does not make sense to discard the law just because we break it. And, for that matter, we cannot discard it, no more than we can discard the law of gravity." The law of God has always been held in high reverence.


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