The ministry of the law as a “sin-damning institution”

January 9, 2017

brunerI’ve said this before, but Frederick Dale Bruner’s commentary on Matthew, The Christbook, is a masterpiece. In fact, I wanted to preach a new series on the Gospel of Matthew in part because I wanted to explore Bruner’s commentary more deeply. One angle of my new series will be to explore the relationship between God’s law and the gospel. I had an intuition that Bruner could help me with this—and so far so good.

The ministry of the law is being restored to our preaching—not as a people-saving institution but, first of all, as a sin-damning institution. There has been too much “accept ourselves” (or “God-loves-us-as-we-are”)  preaching that ignores the tough notes of God’s law and even of Jesus’ gospel. We need John; we need the law of God. “For through the law,” writes the great preacher of the gospel to the Gentiles, “comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). Consequently, if Christians, too, are to experience salvation from sin, then we Christians must again and again allow ourselves to be addressed by the stinging indictment of God’s law. This law has the cheek to tell us that we are the enemy, that the enemy is not primarily other people. The law warns us; it condemns both the spiritually serious and the socially sophisticated in the people of God, the religious right and the religious left.[†]

Frederick Dale Bruner, The Christbook: Matthew 1-12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), 91-2.

2 Responses to “The ministry of the law as a “sin-damning institution””

  1. Grant Essex Says:

    Oh how important this is!

    When I talk about the fact that we all sin, I cannot tell you how many people tell me “Sure, I’m not perfect, but I think I’m a lot better than most people, and I think God knows that”.

    When you try to tell them that that isn’t the point at all, they either get defensive or shut down.

    Personally, since I confronted the truth about my own sin, I have to constantly remind myself that God will indeed forgive me nonetheless, and thank Him for Grace upon Grace.

    Sin scared the hell out of me. Literally!


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