Jason Punches of Somerset Reformed Fellowship pointed me to a great little article on the Law/Gospel Distinction written by Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary California. Here’s a taste:
While the Law continues to guide the believer in the Christian life, Calvin insists that it can never be confused with the Good News. Even after conversion, the believer is in desperate need of the Gospel because he reads the commands, exhortations, threats, and warnings of the Law and often wavers in his certain confidence because he does not see in himself this righteousness that is required. Am I really surrendered? Have I truly yielded in every area of my life? What if I have not experienced the same things that other Christians regard as normative? Do I really possess the Holy Spirit? What if I fall into serious sin? These are questions that we all face in our own lives. What will restore our peace and hope in the face of such questions? The Reformers, with the prophets and apostles, were convinced that only the Gospel could bring such comfort to the struggling Christian.
Without this constant emphasis in preaching, one can never truly worship or serve God in liberty, for his gaze will always be fastened on himself–either in despair or self-righteousness–rather than on Christ. Law and Gospel must both ever be preached, both for conviction and instruction, but the conscience will never rest, Calvin says, so long as Gospel is mixed with Law. “Consequently, this Gospel does not impose any commands, but rather reveals God’s goodness, his mercy and his benefits.” This distinction, Calvin says with Luther and the other Reformers, marks the difference between Christianity and paganism: “All who deny this turn the whole of the Gospel upside down; they utterly bury Christ, and destroy all true worship of God.”
He also includes this gem from J. Gresham Machen:
“According to modern liberalism, faith is essentially the same as ‘making Christ master’ of one’s life…But that simply means that salvation is thought to be obtained by our obedience to the commands of Christ. Such teaching is just a sublimated form of legalism.”
You can read the rest of the article here.