Over Simplified Contrasts Between Law and Gospel Hurt People

I recently came across a list comparing the Gospel and the Law. It attempted to contrast what the Law demands and how the Gospel doesn’t demand anything.

This list is from Keswick Theology, the Let Go and Let God crowd. Here are a couple of the contrasts that I have a problem with:

The Law says “Do”
The Gospel says “Done”

The Law says “If”
The Gospel says “Therefore”

Under the Law, salvation was wages
Under the Gospel, salvation is a gift

The Law says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”
The Gospel says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”

These distinctions are too cute, too simplified, to the point that they aren’t right.

The Gospel also says “do.” Many times. There are commandments all over the New Testament. “But we are human BEings, not human DOings.” I know we are, but that has nothing to do with anything.

I have also heard many people try to convince me that “if” is a law word. There are no conditions in the Gospel. Again, the word “if” is used plenty of times in the New Testament. There are conditions. Reaping and sowing is not a law principle; it’s life. Colossians says:

yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled

Notice anything there? A giant, conditional IF. 1 Corinthians 15 says:

I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

Another giant, conditional IF.

Stressing the “do” of the Law out of place and eliminating conditional IFs, also makes them say people under the law were saved by works, that they earned their salvation as a wage. I have heard any number of people say this, and it is a gross misunderstanding of salvation, not to mention the character and holiness of God. As Paul tries to say in Romans 4, Abraham, David, and we today are all justified by faith. Whether you lived before law, during law, or after law, you are saved by grace through faith, not by works. Works always flow out of faith. Remember the Pharisees? They did the works better than anyone under the Law, but didn’t have faith, thus they were not saved.

When the list gets to love, my head explodes! Seriously? People in the Gospel are not told to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind? That is an evil requirement of the Law? Come on now.

This is the kind of pithiness that leads people astray. I’m all for making complex subjects simple, but when the simplicity ends up cancelling out the original point, helpfulness is gone.

Seek to be biblical, not pithy. Be ware of simplistic sounding comparisons. The Law is more complex than this list would have you believe, and so too is the Gospel.

Oi.

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