Dr. Richard Gaffin on the Law

I interrupt my posts on infant baptism, as I sit here at Westminster's extension campus in Dallas, TX, to take and relay notes on Dr. Gaffin's lecture this morning.

The law has primarily a positive function in Israel's economy. It was a delight to the Israelites, as Psalm 119 makes clear (e.g, v.97). What must not be missed in this Psalm is the use of the personal pronoun. It is not a love being expressed for a law in general -- rules per se; it's a delight in YOUR commands and laws. This is evident in the case of Abraham (and his descendancy) for whom the substance of the coming Mosaic law is already present.

But the law also has an important negative function which the apostle Paul especially underscores in, among other places, Galatians 3:19: "the law was added because of transgressions," i.e, given to intensify sin and to set it in its sharpest and unmistakable light (cf. Rom.3:20; 5:20; 7:7,9-13). The law is given to manifest sin and to multiply sin, to illumine and to intensify it. Through this, the law reveals the total inability of sinful humanity to save itself, the total impossibility of obedience as the way out of death into eschatological life and therefore the absolute necessity of the obedience of Christ.

Even the law in its positive capacity underscores the necessity of Christ. In their delighting in the law, the will of God, it was clear to Abraham and his remnant seed through Israel's history that it was not through their delight and obedience that they were securing their eschatological inheritance. Only the righteousness of Christ -- not moral righteousness -- is title to eschatological life.

The covenant of grace restores the covenant of works in believers through Christ and the Spirit. Works, understood as human obedience, and grace, are not in ultimate opposition.

What is the relationship between the Mosaic covenant and the new covenant in Christ or the relationship between law and gospel? Is the Mosaic covenant in some respect a covenant of works for Israel? Is it a republication of the covenant of works? Is the Mosaic covenant intended as a principle of inheritance, a means of acquiring righteousness?

There are various proposals that answer that question affirmatively. Some say there's a different soteriology set for Israel; others see the law functioning as a covenant of works in a typological or pedagogical fashion to illustrate that works merit reward.

Aaargggh. End of lecture. I was hoping to hear Dr. Gaffin dismantle this silly idea perpetuated by Meredith Kline and his cling-ons.

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