Christopher Chelpka

Advice on Preaching Law and Gospel

Charels Spurgeon once lamented how many Christians, especially ministers, don’t get the relationship between the law and gospel right.

“O, when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people…”

But how do you avoid this? That’s a big question, but John Calvin offers some good advice in his comments on 1 John 2:12.

“Holiness of life ought indeed to be urged, the fear of God ought to be carefully enjoined, men ought to be sharply goaded to repentance, newness of life together with its fruits, ought to be commended; but still we ought ever to take heed, lest the doctrine of faith be smothered,— that doctrine which teaches that Christ is the only offer of salvation and all of blessings; on the contrary, such moderation ought to be presented, that faith may ever retain its own primacy. This is the rule prescribed to us by John: having faithfully spoken of good works, lest he should seem to give them more importance than he ought to have done, he careful he calls us back to contemplate the grace of Christ.”

According to Calvin, it’s not enough to preach both the law and the gospel. They must also be proclaimed in right relation to one another.

Understanding what the law and gospel are and how they are related is essential for Christian preaching. Ministers should be expert in them. Here are some things you can read to avoid the mingle-mangle: