Monday, January 25, 2016

Law and Gospel in Scripture - William Tyndale

The law (says the gospel of John in the first chapter) was given by Moses. But grace and truth were given by Jesus Christ.
The law, whose minister is Moses, was given to bring us into the knowledge of ourselves—that we might thereby feel and perceive who we really are by nature. The law condemns us and all our deeds, and is called by Paul (in 2 Corinthians 3) the ‘ministration of death’. For it kills our consciences and drives us to desperation, inasmuch as it requires of us that which is impossible for our natures to do. It requires of us the deeds of a whole man. It requires perfect love, from the very bottom and ground of the heart, as much in everything we suffer as well as in the things we do. But, says John in the same place, grace and truth is given to us in Christ so that when the law has passed upon us and condemned us to death (which is its nature to do), then in Christ we have grace—that is to say, favor and promises of life, mercy and pardon, freely by the merits of Christ. And in Christ we have verity and truth in that God, for his sake, fulfills all his promises to those who believe. Therefore the Gospel is the ministration of life. Paul calls it, in the afore-mentioned place in 2 Corinthians, the ‘ministration of the Spirit and of righteousness’. 
In the gospel, when we believe the promises we receive the spirit of life and are justified, in the blood of Christ, from all things in which the law condemned us. And we receive love for the law, and power to fulfill it, and grow therein daily. Of Christ it is written, in the afore-mentioned John 1, This is he of whose abundance, or fullness, we have all received grace for grace or favor for favor—that is to say, for the favor that God has to his Son Christ, he gives to us his favor and goodwill, and all gifts of his grace, like a father to his sons. Paul affirms this, saying, He loved us in his beloved [that is, in Christ] before the creation of the world. Thus Christ brings the love of God to us, and not our own holy works. 
Christ is made Lord over all and is called in scripture God's mercy-stool [or, mercy seat]: therefore whoever flees to Christ can neither hear nor receive from God anything other than mercy. 
In the Old Testament are many promises, which are nothing other than the Evangelion, or gospel, to save those who believed them from the vengeance of the law. And in the New Testament there is frequent mention of the law to condemn those who do not believe the promises. Moreover, the law and the gospel may never be considered as if they are separate the one from the other, because the gospel and promises serve only for troubled consciences brought to desperation by the law—which consciences feel the pains of hell and death under the law and are in captivity and bondage to the law. In all my doings I must have the law before me to condemn my imperfectness. For all I do (be I ever so perfect) is yet damnable sin when compared to the law, which requires the ground and bottom of my heart. I must therefore always have the law in my sight so I may be meek in the spirit and give God all the laud and praise, ascribing to him all righteousness and to myself all unrighteousness and sin. I must also have the promises before my eyes so I do not despair—in which promises I see the mercy, favor and good-will of God upon me in the blood of his Son, Christ, who has made satisfaction for my imperfectness and has fulfilled for me that which I could not do myself.
A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture
By William Tyndale (c. 1494 – 1536) 


  1. John Murray, The Covenant of Grace ---“The obedience of Abraham is represented as the condition upon which the fulfillment of the promise given to him was contingent and the obedience of Abraham’s seed is represented as the means through which the promise given to Abraham would be accomplished....These conditions do not provide us with any reason for construing the Mosaic covenant in terms different from those of the Abrahamic covenant."

    “How then are we to construe the conditions of which we have spoken? The continued enjoyment of this grace and of the relation established is contingent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. For apart from the fulfillment of these conditions the grace bestowed and the relation established are meaningless. Grace bestowed implies a subject and reception on the part of that subject. The relation established implies mutuality.”

    Murray—“But the conditions in view are not conditions of bestowal. They are simply the reciprocal responses of faith, love and obedience, apart from which the enjoyment of the covenant blessing and of the covenant relation is inconceivable….Viewed in this light that the breaking of the covenant takes on an entirely different complexion. It is not the failure to meet the terms of a pact nor failure to respond to the offer of favorable terms of contractual agreement. It is unfaithfulness to a relation constituted and to grace dispensed. By breaking the covenant what is broken is not the condition of bestowal but the condition of consummated fruition.”

    Murray–“It should be noted also that the necessity of keeping the covenant is bound up with the particularism of this covenant. The covenant does not yield its blessing to all indiscriminately. The discrimination which this covenant exemplifies accentuates the sovereignty of God in the bestowal of its grace and the fulfillment of its promises. This particularization is correlative with the spirituality of the grace bestowed and the relation constituted and it is also consonant with the exactitude of its demands.”

    Murray—--“A covenant which yields its blessing indiscriminately is not one that can be kept or broken. We see again, therefore, that the intensification which particularism illustrates serves to accentuate the keeping which is indispensable to the fruition of the covenant grace.”

  2. Meredith Kline— “How Abraham’s obedience related to the securing of the kingdom blessings in their old covenant form is a special question within the broad topic of the role of human works under redemptive covenant… Abraham’s faithful performance of his covenantal duty is clearly declared to sustain a causal relationship to the blessing of Isaac and Israel. It had a meritorious character that procured a reward enjoyed by others… Because of Abraham’s obedience redemptive history would take the shape of an Abrahamite kingdom of God from which salvation’s blessings would rise up and flow out to the nations. God was pleased to constitute Abraham’s exemplary works as the meritorious ground for granting to Israel after the flesh the distinctive role of being formed as the typological kingdom, the matrix from which Christ should come… The obedient Abraham, the faithful covenant servant, was a type of the Servant of the Lord in his obedience.”

    Nehemiah Coxe– “It is noteworthy that in this transaction of God with Abraham we first meet with an express injunction of obedience to a command as the condition of covenant interest. It is all ushered in with this prologue (Genesis 17:1), “I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be perfect.” A strict and entire obedience to his precepts is required in order to inherit the good things that were to be given by this covenant. In this mode of transacting it, the Lord was pleased to draw the first lines of that form of covenant relationship in which the natural seed of Abraham was fully stated by the law of Moses, which was a covenant of works with its terms, “Do this and live.”” p. 91