We’ve looked at the law and gospel in terms of “the big picture” and determined that they are interrelated and inseparable concepts (see Part 1). But is it ever appropriate to distinguish law from gospel? In other words, do the biblical writers ever contrast law with gospel? The answer is “Yes.” In fact, such a contrast is vital. In this second part of our study, we’ll consider the important distinction between law and gospel when these terms and concepts are used and defined in a more restrictive sense.
Law and Gospel: The Narrow Contrast
Let’s return to Dr. Horton’s definition I cited in the first part of our study: “Everything in the Bible that reveals God’s moral expectations is law and everything in the Bible that reveals God’s saving purposes and acts is gospel.”1 Horton’s distinction is not novel. Martin Luther made this distinction during the Protestant Reformation: