Law, Grace, Mercy, Justice, and Equity
For discussion of 1-2,
Truth on this website.
For the remainder, see the text of the discussion that follows
these summary principles.
1. All Biblical
ethics and worldview begins with the character or attributes
of God. The most logically prior attribute of God is that He
is absolute truth. He must be believed in everything about
which He has spoken, else He has not more authority than a
2. The 66 books of
the Protestant Bible are inerrant and fully authoritative,
as the very Word of God written. As special revelation, it
has authority over conclusions about general revelation
where the same subject matter is addressed.
3. After truth,
God’s righteousness (holiness) is His next logically prior
attribute because all His other attributes are not as fully
demonstrable without a comprehensive understanding of this
one. God’s righteousness may be described as being perfectly
Holy and without sin or any tendency to sin (“no shadow of
turning”). God is His own standard of Holiness; there is no
standard above Him by which He can be judged.
4. Relative to man,
God’s Law, in all its fullness and particulars, is the
written expression of His Holiness. God’s Law (His will for
obedience) is the standard to which man is called “on earth
as it is in heaven.” God’s law is written throughout the
entire Bible, Old and New Testaments.
5. God’s entire
creation is built upon law, from the inanimate heavenly
bodies and plants to animals and man. These systems of
inanimate objects and living things are most free and fully
functional when they most closely correspond to His Law of
original design. When a certain, unidentifiable point of
transgression occurs, systems crash and destruction and
6. Synonyms for
God’s Law include : precepts, commands, commandments,
statutes, principles, codes, acts, enactments, ordinances,
decrees, directives, edicts, fiats, rulings, regulations,
rules, prohibitions, restrictions, canons, testimonies, His
ways, righteous judgments, Your Words, wonderful works,
moral Laws, and truth.
7. The cataclysmic
consequences on both mankind and the universe, because of
the Fall of Mankind in Adam and the Great Flood,
demonstrates the ultimate value that God attaches to the
observance of His Holiness, as reflected in His Law.
8. The fullness of
man’s salvation and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ
in man’s place cannot be understood most fully apart from an
understanding of God’s Law. In fact, the fulfillment of
God’s Law and the execution of punishment for transgression
of God’s law was (sic) the only means by which man could be
9. God’s Law
together with His attributes of love, grace, mercy, and
justice comprise the central message of the Bible in
salvation and social justice among individuals, families,
formal associations, and state governments.
theologians discuss the message of salvation as “Law and
Grace,” while others discuss it as “Law and Love”, and still
others as “Law and Gospel.” Grace, mercy, and love are
almost identical in their application to man.
11. There are more
that 12 ways that the word “law” is used in the Bible. In
this paper and on this website, “law” will be used to
designate all laws (and their synonyms named above) of the
Old and New Testaments except those that were explicitly
ceremonial and those applicable only to Israel as a nation
within the geographical boundaries prescribed by God.
12. Truly Biblical
love (agape or philos) may never transgress
any of God’s laws. While the sacrifice and pursuit of
Biblical love may exceed Biblical law, the latter gives
explicit and practical direction to the former. For example,
“husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church.” A
husband may fulfill the bare minimum of the law or he may
work to do all that he can to please her. (Link to
discussion of agape and
13. God’s perfect
righteousness requires that His justice be perfectly
executed. Thus, the slightest “transgression or want of
conformity to God’s law” demands death and banishment in
Hell forever. Herein enters God’s love, mercy, and grace.
14. While man is
unable to keep God’s law and is condemned by it, its perfect
design for the human race is nevertheless to be implemented
as fully and completely as possible by individuals,
families, voluntary associations, the Church, and state
governments. This implementation is first a duty to God, but
secondly, the summum bonum of pragmatism and has no
association with the concept of legalism (the attempt to
obtain merit or favor with God or forgiveness of sins by Him
through obedience to the law.)
15. There are only
two sources of civil law: the Bible or man’s wisdom (fallen
and fallible). There are only two possible choices for man
in his execution of civil law: dictatorial (rex lex
or the authority of one man in legislative or judicial
decision) and the vote of the majority (in vox populi,
“the voice of the people is the voice of God”).
16. God’s laws and
principles are fixed and unchanging, but details of a
situation determine which apply to that situation. For
example, one may not bear false witness against his
neighbor, but he may deceive a declared enemy in a just war.
(Link to article in Truth.)
justice applies to the different areas of government:
family, church, social groups, and state governments. Each
sphere has its rewards and punishments. Only the state
“bears the sword,” that is, has the power for physical
restraint and bodily punishment, including the death
18. The modern
concept of social justice is severely skewed towards mercy
without responsibility. While Biblical justice requires the
application of mercy, God is most vengeful against the
hardened heart and society should follow that example.
justice” without the application of reasonable Biblical
justice and mercy is chaotic and immeasurably costly in
misery, money, and lives. The same choice faces people today
that Moses presented to the Israelites: choose God’s laws
for health, prosperity, and life, or any other way of
disease, debt, and death.
has a great heritage in the application of Old Testament law
throughout Medieval Europe. Its greatest development was the
common law of England, sometimes known as the Law of Liberty
of Moses, which produced the Magna Charta and the foundation
of law for the United States.
21. Civil law is
always and only derived from an ethic. Since there are
extant only two kinds of ethics, Biblical and any other,
civil law can only be derived from one or the other. There
are great consequences of good from the Biblical system and
great consequences of evil from the other, demonstrable in
present times throughout the world and in history.
consequences of breaking God’s moral laws are as sure and
certain as the law of gravity when one jumps off a building
is smashed on the ground below. When one violates God’s
laws, sooner or later he will suffer the consequences of a
broken heart, a broken heart, or a broken life.
23. The application
of Biblical law requires great care to transfer it from the
culture of Biblical times to modern day. But, such
application is not only possible, but necessary. It is past
time that Biblical scholars provide instruction to
legislators in this process, before it is too late for the
24. Biblical laws
give God-determined sanctions which are levels of punishment
that are proportional to the crime committed. Throughout
history and the modern world, capital punishment has been
executed for petty offenses and crimes, whereas murderers
are often set free and sometimes even honored for their
25. The Micah
Mandate is often quoted as a simple lifestyle for
Christians. However, a proper understanding of it contains
all that has been discussed here, as representative of God’s
entire Biblical plan.
26. One summary of the
Law is the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). As a summary of the Law,
one must look to its explicit statements to know how to fulfill.
(Biblical) doctrine is a harmonious unity whose main
axis is the nature of God. For this reason, a correct
understanding of the whole range of Christian (Biblical)
faith and duty turns on a proper comprehension of divine
attributes. How the theologian defines and relates God’s
sovereignty, righteousness, and love actually
predetermines his exposition of basic positions in many
areas -- in social ethics no less than in soteriology
(salvation) and eschatology (future events). Even the
smallest deviation from the Biblical view of divine
justice and divine benevolence eventually implies
far-reaching consequences for the entire realm of
Christian life and truth.
important, therefore, to note the historic evangelical
emphasis that righteousness (law) and benevolence (grace
mercy, and love) are equally ultimate in the unity of
the divine nature. In accord with Biblical theology,
evangelical Christianity affirms that justice is an
immutable, divine quality not reducible to a mere mode
of divine benevolence on the fallacious theory that love
is the exclusive center and core of God’s being.
of justice into love cancels any separate function for
justice in the moral order of the world, shifts the
motive force of ethical theory (worldview) to
benevolence instead, and misinterprets love as a
universal rather than a particular manifestation of the
divine nature… (this) love blurs and erases the
fundamental distinction between justice and benevolence
in the politico-economic realm. (Carl F. H. Henry,
Aspects of Christian Social Ethics, pages146-147
-- Ed’s emphasis and insertion of corresponding words.)
“If God’s laws
were not wise and holy, God would not enjoin them; and
if they are so, we deny infinite wisdom and holiness
in God by not complying with them.” (Stephen
Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God,
page 95 -- Ed‘s emphasis.)
Love, law, and justice,
mercy, and grace, comprise the most central message of the
their use among Christians is often misplaced. Quite common is
the verse, “God is love.” Less common, if not rare, is “God is
law.” Yet, which is more important? Which is prior?
Of course, “God is
law,” may be stated as, “God is righteous” or “God is Holy.”
But, as we will see, God’s law is a manifestation of His
righteousness and holiness. Even, prior to those attributes, He
must be truth. For, if God cannot be trusted in what He says,
what He says does not matter. If we have to ferret out His truth
on our own, the Bible is of no help to us. We are still on our
own with or without the Scriptures. But, the central message of
this website, The Christian and Biblical Worldview for the 21st
Century is that the Bible is infallible, inerrant, and bears the
full weight of God’s voice and authority, as
But, what is God law?
First, all Christians would agree that God is righteous. But, to
be “right” or “righteous,” requires a standard by which to judge
what is right or wrong. God is that standard. But, God is
not present here on earth for us to question Him or to have Him
write down his standards. But, then, why should he? He has
already done so in the 66 books of the Protestant Bible.
One source cites 613
commandments in the Old Testament!(1) Virtually all of the
commandments of the New Testament are represented in those
commandments except perhaps the fullest expression of the
commandment to love (John 13:34, 15:12, 17:20-23; I Corinthians
Ah, I hear it coming,
“We (Christians) are not under law, but under grace!” That is
not really the issue here (although we will address it later).
We are concerned with God’s standard, His character, and what
He requires of us. That requirement is the detail of the 613
commandments and the new commandment of love.
God is infinitely Holy,
and to have fellowship with man, he must be “holy as I am holy.”
Man cannot begin to achieve that standard. It is infinitely
above him. In fact, C. S. Lewis said that a recording of moral
statements that any individual makes over his lifetime would
convict him without applying any outside moral standard.
You see, if you do not
understand the exact and detailed standard of God’s law, you
cannot fully appreciate the greatness of the sacrifice of God’s
Son for sinners. The Shorter Catechism defines sin as “any want
of conformity unto or transgression of any law of God.”
So, Christians start at
the wrong place in starting with God’s love. God’s love enters
because God is truth, and He has a standard, His law. “For God
so loved the world…” (John 3:16). What was the situation that
called for this love? What was wrong that the world needed God’s
love? What is wrong is that man (first, Adam, and then
ourselves) has broken God’s law and is unable to pay the price
that God requires.
So, God’s law is prior
to God’s love in salvation. For that reason, law is the most
important understanding of God’s character after His being
many Christians have this reversed.
God’s love has no content
apart from God’s law. The fullness and greatness of Christ’s
sacrifice is empty and meaningless without understanding God’s
law being fulfilled in Christ for His people.
Biblical law is
probably the most complex subject in the Bible. Robertson
McQuilkin cites his father’s book in which “law” is used at
least twelve different ways in the Bible (2). Dr. McQuilkin goes
on to name six of these uses.
1) The Moral
Law. “Law as the expressed will of God that people
be like Him morally (ethically)…. There are, no doubt,
other elements in man’s likeness to God, but a morally
right character is primary (consistent with my thoughts
above)…. Mankind has ever neglected this aspect of God’s
image and worked to attain likeness to god in His
attributes of knowledge and power.
important use of the word law is often called the
‘moral law,’ God’s expressed will concerning what
constitutes likeness to God…. the work of the law
written in the hearts of those who do not have the
written law (Romans 2:14-15)…. ‘Through the law comes
knowledge of sin’ (Romans 3:20... or all the
commandments of God which deal with human behavior“
(Romans 4:15, 7:2,5; I Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 3:13;
I Timothy 1:8; Hebrews 8:10ff (to name a few).
Mosaic Legal System … “the entire network of
regulations given by God to Israel for the era beginning
with Moses and ending with Jesus Christ, who came to
fulfill the law …” (John 1:17, Romans 5:13, Galatians
3:23, for example).
to the Law. “Sometimes the term law is used
figuratively to refer to a person’s obedient response to
the law …” (Romans 3:20 - “works of the law“; Galatians
4) “Law as
the Old Testament… The Hebrew Bible was commonly
divided into three sections, commonly called the Law,
the Prophets, and the Writings (sometimes called the
Psalms)…. Christ spoke of … the law of Moses, the
prophets, and the psalms” (Luke 24:44).
5) “Law as
Specific Laws… Sometimes, the term law refers
to specific commandments, such as the Ten Commandments
(Romans 2:20ff…). “We have a law (John 19:7) is another
example of a specific law in mind. When Paul speaks of
fulfilling the law of Christ in Galatians 6:2, and when
James speaks of the royal law (James 2:8), the reference
is to the specific law of love.”
6) “Law as
an Operating Principle… Sometimes, the New Testament
uses the term law to mean a principle much as we would
say ‘the law of gravity.’ ‘The law of my mind’ and ‘the
law of sin (Romans 7:23, 25), ‘the law of the Spirit of
life’ (Romans 8:2), and ‘the principle of faith’ (Romans
3:27) are all examples of the term law being used
as a synonym for ‘principle.’”
Robert McQuilkin goes
on to name six other uses of “law” in his book, but this will
suffice for our study here.
Now is a good time to reinforce the need for hermeneutics or
principles by which Scripture should be interpreted. One of the
most important is that the same word can have different
definitions. “Law” probably has more than any other! The
remarkable thing about this hermeneutic is that it is true for
the understanding of any writing or book, not just the Bible.
For more on hermeneutics.)
Teaching moment. As a practical exercise, list how many
synonyms of “law” are present in the Bible. Psalm 119 is a good
place to start where testimonies, His ways, precepts, statutes,
commandments, righteous and judgments appear under the first
section! There are many others throughout the Bible.)
In this paper and on
this website, “law” will be used to designate all laws (and
their synonyms named above) of the Old and New Testaments except
those that were explicitly ceremonial and those applicable only
Israel as a nation within those geographical boundaries
prescribed by God. (See Webster’s 1828 dictionary for his 26
definitions of “law,” below.)
“Love” must be seen in
the context of this “law.” Even to begin to understand the
breadth and depth of John 3:16, “For God so loved the
world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” absolutely must be
framed by the background of God’s law or righteousness.
Robertson goes on to
exciting. It means that the foundation of our moral
standard is not man, his wisdom, his fallen nature, his
desires, his values, his traditions, nor his culture…
Since God Himself is our standard, our standard is not
relative, changing with each age or society. God’s law
is absolute, perfect, unchanging, and eternal.
standard is personal, living, and visible rather
than a dead code… It derives from His own nature.
Considered with Law as Background
Let us start
with the views of some others to demonstrate the intimate
relationship of love with law. Since we have been spending time
with Dr. Robertson McQuilkin, we will start with him (pages
most extensive descriptions of love are the commands of
Scripture…. The commands of Scripture reveal God’s will
for those to whom they are addressed and that his
ultimate will is that we be like him in moral character.
Since “God is love,” it should come as no surprise that
the entire Old Testament revelation of God’s will for
man hangs on the law of love (Matthew 22:37-40). After
stating The Golden Rule, Jesus concluded, “For this is
[the essence of] the law and the prophets (Matthew
7:12). Paul repeats the thought: “For the whole law is
fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as
yourself’ (Galatians 5:14). Again, he says that this law
of love sums up the Ten Commandments.
This basic fact
about the relationship of love to the commandments of
Scripture means that every command applicable to
Christians is a description of how love will behave. In other words, the instructions for life in Scripture
give substance and definition to the basic law of love.
G. I. Williamson.
most widely read commentary on The Westminster Confession of
Faith was written by G. I. Williamson. Concerning Chapter 18 of
the Confession, he divides the Ten Commandments into two
The Love of God
Man’s Duty to God (1-4)
The Love of Man
Man’s Duty to Man (5-10)
Thus, the Two Great
Commandments of Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:33-38) are made more
explicit by the Ten Commandments.
Henry Stob taught at Calvin Theological Seminary in
Philosophical and Moral Theology. He was founder and editor of
The Reformed Journal. He has one of the best books on
Biblical ethics that I have in my library. It is an unknown gem.
And, for our purposes here, he has the best material that I have
read on the interrelatedness of law and love. (Later, we will
cite him on justice, as well.) In this book, he has a chapter on
“Love and Law: The New and the Old Morality.” In general, the
old morality is that of Old Testament law (a morality of rules
of right conduct and of obedience). The new morality has to do
with ends (as the Greeks first posited).
morality is a morality of love. But, it does not
therefore repudiate law…. The new morality speaks,
accordingly, of a veritable law: the law of love…. But
this means that love is law… Love absorbs law and
virtually removes it from sight…. The old ethic is an
ethic of law. But it does not repudiate love…. A unity
of law and love is effected which is a virtual
identification of the two. Law absorbs love and
virtually removes it from sight.
Law, in order
to rightly to function as a guide, must be informed by
the sensitivities of love, just as love, in order to do
the same, must be structured by law.
Law and love
are not to be smelted together beyond recognition, so
that one is at liberty to construct, at a whim, either a
pure teleology or a pure deontology. What is needed is
not simple identity, but holy marriage and mutual
embracement. What is needed is a loving obedience and an
Herein is essence and
end of the law-love debate. Love is blind and must have the
direction of law. Law must have the sensitivity, and Stob adds
later, the sacrifice and extension of love that far exceeds law.
To put everything
together, one final characteristic of God is needed: justice.
Mercy, and Grace
discuss the interrelatedness of law and grace, while
others discuss law and love. Still others discuss
law and gospel. That difference in approach has caused me
to reflect and research a great deal on these Biblical terms. In
addition, mercy seems closely related, as well.
In reviewing these
terms, there is a great deal of overlap.
“For God so loved
the world that He gave His own begotten Son that whoever
believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”
(John 3:16), yet “By grace are you saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of god” (Ephesians
2:8-9). “He has mercy on whom He wills” (Romans 9:18).
Attribute of God:
“God is love”
(I John 4:8), but Jesus Christ was “full of grace and
truth” (John 1:14). The Apostle Paul introduce his Epistles with
“Grace, mercy, and peace.” “You are not under law, but
under grace” (Romans 6:14). “Love is the
fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). “God who is rich in
mercy” (Ephesians 2:4).
From these few hours of
review and reflection, “grace” and “love” seem to be virtual
synonyms, as they apply to God’s favor towards His own. However,
His “common grace” applies to all mankind. He never expresses
“love” for all mankind.
While mercy seems to
carry the full weight of God’s saving activity and a particular
attribute of Himself, it does have some nuances that separate it
from love. Mercy denotes being applied to someone who is
miserable and pitiable. Love and grace can be given to people in
all situations, whether they are miserable or relatively
comfortable. And, of course, mercy within the Godhead is not
applicable at all.
And, these distinctions
are the best that I can do after consulting about a dozen books
and dictionaries, many Bible verses, even reviewing some of the
New Testament Greek words. If some readers have some specific
ideas on these words, or have a great source that discusses all
three, please email me.
But, for our purposes
here. Any distinctions in love and grace do not matter.
We are considering the intimate connection between law and love.
Since one of my references contrasts law and grace, in my
discussion, I will consider grace and love as synonyms.
Justice, Love, and Law Meet at the Cross and in Worldview!
concerned with the distribution of goods and evils to
each in accordance with what is due to each.
Justice has to do with due allocation: goods to whom
goods are due; evils to whom evils are due. The formula
is: To each what is coming to him… Justice is concerned
with moral symmetry.
Justice is best
defined as “giving every one his due,” the term “due”
being a wide and neutral term serving to cover all forms
of justice. (Stob, page 124.)
Justice, then, would
require that God should punish all men because “all have fallen
short of the glory (righteousness, law) of God (Romans 3:23).
God’s love saves all those who “believe on His name.” Thus,
God’s love supercedes His justice to save some. For
Christians, this understanding should temper their call for
justice in all situations.
But, there is another
side to God’s love, and that brings us back to God’s law.
Love is by nature “empty”; it is constitutionally unable
to give guidance… This law—fixed, constant, and
unbending—ignores variable situations and
circumstances, stifles every imaginative and creative
form of compassion, and leaves no room for adaptation
If you want to
know what to do (that is, to love), you have only one
place to go -- to law
Law in order
rightly to function as guide, must be informed by the
sensitivities of love, just as love … must be structured
by law…. What is needed is not simple identity (of each)
but holy marriage and mutual embracement. What is needed
is a loving obedience and an obedient love. (Stob, page
And, from John Murray:
The norms and
canons which define the biblical ethic (worldview) are
simply the reading of love’s dictates, the
crystallizations and formulations of the necessary
outflow of love to God and to our fellowmen…. The
Biblical ethic (worldview) (is) the sum-total of the
ways in which the renewed consciousness (regeneration)
reacts to the demands of the diversified concrete
situations in which it is placed. (Murray, page 21-22)
These wise men are only
telling us what God has already told us in His Word.
If you love me,
keep my commandments (all the commandments of the Old
and New Testaments). John 14:15
If you keep My
commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have
kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
He who loves
another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You
shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not
bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there
is any other commandment, are all summed up in this
saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as
yourself.” Romans 13:9
Love is the
fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10
For all the law
is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love
your neighbor as yourself. Galatians 5:14
If you really
fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You
shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well.
The concept of God’s
law in relation to God’s love in salvation is the most important
concept in the Bible (after God is Truth and His Word is truth).
of sin cannot be known without knowing God’s law, as
representative of God’s righteousness. “Sin is any want of
conformity or transgression of the law of God.” (See above.)
What is the perfection that God requires for salvation, the
perfect keeping of the law? All 613 commandments (above) or the
equity (below) thereof.
Some have said that
there are two purposes of the law. 1) The law demonstrates our
inability to keep God’s standards of righteousness, and
therefore, leads us to Christ who perfectly fulfilled the law
and applies His righteousness to those who believe on His name.
2) The law gives direction to the love after we have been
Situation Determines Which Biblical Principles and Law Apply
To mention “situation”
in the context of discussion among Christians is to cause a
vigorous, almost knee-jerk, response among evangelicals. Since
Joseph Fletcher’s Situation Ethics, the word “situation”
has become anathema to us. And, that has happened for good
reason. (Read carefully.) Fletcher and other non-evangelicals
say that the situation determines the ethics, or the right or
wrong behavior to follow. The Bible says that the situation
determines the commandments or the principles that we are to
With Fletcher, there
are no absolutes or fixed principles, only those determined by
the moment. With
God, His commandments and principles has already been
established. The situation determines which ones apply.
Let us consider an
example relative to justice. With a criminal caught in theft,
the modern situation (of public opinion and court justice) is to
punish the criminal by imprisonment only.
But, biblical justice
has five purposes in justice: 1) restoration to the one from
whom goods were stolen, sometimes several-fold of what was
stolen (!), 2) punishment, not by imprisonment, 3) deterrence,
4) rehabilitation, and 5) satisfaction of the criminal’s own
concept of justice.
Another example is the
modern concept of adultery, commonly called divorce due to
“incompatibility.” That is, if one finds himself or herself in a
marriage where one spouse finds that they do not “love” the
other, the situation (and modern state laws) allows them to
divorce and remarry. Historically, modern divorce laws can
easily be traced to the liberal “ethical” ideas of Fletcher and
But, biblical justice
requires that divorce be granted only for adultery or for
desertion of an unbeliever from a believer.(4) And, Biblical
justice requires that churches deal with situations of divorce
within their congregations.(5) These are commandments and
principles that one will never find among situational ethicists
(that is, pagan, non-Biblical worldview).
I have heard and read
of pastors and other Christians who have tried to “justify”
their adulteries with pagan concepts of “love.” But, this is a
illustrative example of “love” that is unbiblical contrasted
with Biblical love. Please re-read, if you do not remember what
Murray and Stob said on the guiding directive of “law” for love.
Biblical law is
the only limit on “love” being anything that one wants it to be!
Biblical Justice in Different Situations
Let us suppose that Mr.
Smith has stolen a car, valued at $25,000 from Mr. Jones, both
members of the same congregation. Mr. Smith has been caught by
the police with clear evidence that he is guilty. How would this
sin/crime be handled at different levels?
(Caveat: What follows
is within the principles of Biblical justice. I am not saying
that they are either comprehensive or the best principles to be
applied. I am only illustrating how justice varies with
different authorities, and the great practicality of these
Mr. Jones must make restitution of the car to Mr. Jones and any
expenses that he incurred from the absence of the automobile.
Mr. Smith must also ask forgiveness from Mr. Jones, and Mr.
Jones must forgive him (even if Mr. Smith is a repeat offender
-- Matthew 18:22).
Biblical justice in the
church leaders (elders or deacons, depending upon the form of
church government) must investigate the situation and determine
what oversight that they must give (Matthew 18:15-20).
And, if Mr. Jones does
not forgive Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones may become the offending party!
The church leaders must give oversight to both.
Biblical justice in the
state (used for all levels of government, not just the states of
America) has the authority of God to “punish evil” (Romans
13:1-4). Automobile theft is a crime and punishable by state
But, in an ideally
Biblical society, does the state have to be involved? Does the
local church have to be involved. No!
If Mr. Smith and Mr.
Jones work out a Biblically satisfying arrangement, the
situation can end there! The church does not have to be
involved: the verses cited above clearly state that if either
party is not satisfied, then one or both takes it to the church.
Now, if Mr. Smith is a repeat offender, it may be wise for Mr.
Jones to take it to the church.
And, the state does not
have to be involved, if Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones can work out an
equitable (Biblical) arrangement.
if individuals were allowed to settle interpersonal crimes, this
would greatly reduce the caseloads of the states! However, in
today’s litigious and pagan society, I would grant that this
application may not work. But, in a Biblical conscientious
society, I contend that it would.
In cases of the loss of human life (not due to “natural“
causes), God has mandated that the state investigate, for only
the state has the power of capital punishment (Romans 13:4). Of
course, the individual has the God-given right to kill in
self-defense, a situation where the state should declare the
These issues of
Biblical justice ever so brief, but I have expanded them a more
fully at the following URL with a reference there to a more
comprehensive discussion of justice by Vern Poythress. (Crime
Perhaps, what comes to
mind most frequently when someone mentions the word, “justice,”
is social justice. “Giving everyone their due,” then, becomes
the removal of all things that appear to be “unfair” in society:
racial inequality, salaries for men vs. women, equal employment
opportunities, sexual harassment in the work place, “right” to
medical care, providing income to those below the “poverty”
line, “fair” wages for blue collar workers, access for those
with disabilities, etc. The list is virtually endless. We are a
society which is overly concerned with “social justice.”
Yet, what have been
achieved with this focus? After at least $50 trillion, poverty
is unchanged. Little progress has been made against gender
inequality of salaries. Medical care is demonstrably producing
more harm that good. Mothers abort one in three of their
children. The elderly literally rot away in nursing homes.
Euthanasia looms on the horizon in America, while it is a
reality in The Netherlands. Pornography is a growing industry.
Social security is bankrupt. The federal budget is ballooning
out of control. And, on and on.
With a society so
focused on justice, what is wrong? I would posit that the
fundamental problem is the concept of justice. We want a
society that gives the “good” to everyone regardless of
responsibility. Children cannot be failed in school because
“it might hurt their feelings.” Everyone must have the latest
and best medical care, regardless of their ability to pay or
their responsibility for their own injuries and illnesses.
Everyone must have the same pay scale, regardless of the market
value of their services. Everyone must have social security
income, regardless of their need. “Art” cannot be defined,
because it must have its freedom of expression.
And, it is the state’s
responsibility to make sure that all these things happen by
legislative or judicial fiat.
Now, I recognize the
global nature of the three prior paragraphs. But, they are
sufficiently in the “ballpark” for our application here.
Let me take my
position, one step further, we need the Biblical concept of
justice. The three “inalienable rights” of the American
Declaration of Independence are “life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness.” But, the signers of the Declaration posited these
concepts on the Biblical concept of justice, the laws of
nature and of nature’s God. Writings and speeches from those
times clearly demonstrate that rights and responsibilities were
Perhaps, the best
illustration comes from the undisputed father of American and
English jurisprudence, William Blackstone. In Section 2 of his
Introduction to his commentaries on law, he begins.
Law, in it’s
most general and comprehensive sense, signifies a rule
of action; and is applied indiscriminately to all kinds
of action, whether animate, or inanimate, rational or
irrational. Thus, we say the laws of motion, of
gravitation, of optics, of mechanics, as well as the
laws of nature and of nations. And, it is that
rule of action which is prescribed by some superior, and
which the inferior is bound to obey… the supreme being
formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing.
Blackstone moves in a
few paragraphs of continuing discussion on the theme that, as
the universe and all forms of life are governed by the laws of
nature, man is also subject to laws, the obedience of which will
lead to individual happiness and an ordered society.
The most major
mistake that is made by those who might contend for “natural
law” or “the law of nature’s God” is to miss its need for
the specificity of the Scriptures. Blackstone does not make this
corrupt reason and ignorant, erroneous understanding)
has given manifold occasion for the benign interposition
of divine providence; which, in compassion to the
frailty, the imperfection, and the blindness of human
reason, has been pleased, at sundry times and in diverse
manners, to discover and enforce its laws by an
immediate and direct revelation. The doctrines thus
delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they
are to be found only in the holy scriptures. These
precepts, when revealed, are found upon comparison to be
really a part of the original law of nature, as they
tend in all their consequences to man's felicity. But we are not from thence to conclude that the knowledge of
these truths was attainable by reason, in its
present corrupted state; since we find that, until
they were revealed, they were hid from the wisdom of
ages. As then the moral precepts of this law are indeed
of the same original with those of the law of nature, so
their Intrinsic obligation is of equal strength and
perpetuity. Yet undoubtedly the revealed law is of
infinitely more authenticity than that moral system,
which is framed by ethical writers, and denominated the
natural law. Because one is the law of nature, expressly declared so to be by God himself; the
other is only what, by the assistance of human reason,
we imagine to be that law. If we could be as certain of
the latter as we are of the former, both would have an
equal authority; but, till then, they can never be put
in any competition together.
Upon these two
foundations, the law of nature and the law of
revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no
human laws should be suffered to contradict these.
My knowledge of the
history of natural law theory is almost nil. I do not know upon
what premises such theory was based. I do not know who posited
these theories and in what ages. Nor, do I know to what extent
such theory has been developed. Perhaps, such law was founded
upon certain Scriptures (for example, Romans 1:26, 27; I
Corinthians 11:14). But, one Biblical hermeneutic is that
explicit statements interpret all those statements that are less
clear. Scripture is “explicit” revelation and nature is
“general” revelation, if you will. (Link to specific principle
But, this I know and
proclaim with every fiber of my rational and regenerated
understanding, paraphrasing Blackstone himself:
the explicit statements of
divine ethics and law always, always trump natural law derived
in any other manner where any difference is found.
This derivation of law
with the Scriptures, as the explicit determining factor of law,
is the great neglect of Bible-believing Christians.
(Non-Bible-believers do not care about the Scriptures, so they
are irrelevant here.) They have not been able to be both
pro-life and pro-capital punishment, as Scripture is. They have
not been able to show mercy to homosexuals, while upholding laws
against homosexuality. They have believed that the provision of
welfare by the state is Biblical charity. They have helped to
enact state law for disabilities. They have not been able to
support “just” wars. They have misunderstood the separation of
church and state. They have just accepted the current penal
system imprisonment as the only form of punishment. They have
not understood the concept of civil liberty, as it grew out of
the Reformation. And, and hundreds of other wrong or omitted
conceptions of Biblical law.
to Bring All This Together
There is a beautiful
unity to love, law, mercy, justice, grace, righteousness, and
holiness within this Biblical framework that is centered on God
Himself. (7) These words and their corresponding concepts are
like the facets of a diamond of perfect construction. The
concept of man’s salvation, corresponds to the concept of law
and justice in society and in the state. We have these concepts
rooted in God Himself, as He is described in Scripture, for He
cannot be described accurately in any other way. We have a
system that promotes the summon bonum of individuals,
families, churches, and nations, while never compromising the
rights of anyone. O, Christian, grasp the fullness of your
There is a saying that
“The Devil is in the particulars.” But, in this case, Christ is
in the particulars!
The letter of the law
is brutal. It would make no provision for applying capital
punishment to both the pre-meditated murderer and the motorist
who lost concentration for a moment and killed a pedestrian.
Love and mercy would allow both to go free, realizing that all
men are fallible and subject to their nature and nurture.
But, Biblical justice
is the answer. Distinctions are made between pre-mediated murder
and accidental manslaughter. A man could flee to a “city of
refuge,” where he would be tried, and if found to be innocent of
pre-meditated murder, then he could live there until the high
priest died. There is a distinction between a woman who cries
out in rape and the one who does not. And, hundreds of other
factors in laws governing other crimes.
“Oh, how I love thy
law,” the Psalmist cried. The law? Yes, the law. The law is
foundational to love, mercy, justice, and all other Biblical
Christian, do you cry,
“Oh, how I love thy law?” Do you love the whole law, the whole
law of the Old and New Testaments? Do you know the
whole law? Do you know the law? If not, what is your intention
today to study and learn the law?
Biblical law defines
the Biblical worldview and Biblical ethics.
From a study of
casuistry, one comes to realize that it is impossible to write
sufficient details in ethics or law to cover every possible
human situation. This complexity requires judgment, judges,
mercy, and equity. If the law were sufficient to cover all
crimes, then no judges would be needed. Any person could just
look up the particular crime in a book and prescribe the
penalty. But, there is the situation to be considered. Was the
murder premeditated or in the heat of passion? Was this murder
an isolated event, or did the person have a pattern of similar
offenses? What are some principles?
1) Justice must be
guilty man to be saved, God’s law had to be satisfied. God
focused the full wrath of His perfect justice on His own Son. In
a sense, the law was twice fulfilled. Christ, the Son, fulfilled
the law of God perfectly. God, the Father, fulfilled the law
perfectly in punishing His Son in the perfect fulfillment of the
law. Only after
this double fulfillment of the law is love, mercy, and grace
demonstrated and applied to some.
Mercy cannot be shown
without the background of God’s law, for how else can mercy be
known as mercy?
For what sin or crime is mercy being shown? So, the details of
God’s law written in God’s Word shows mercy in its prescription
of sanctions for different situations.
But, let’s be careful
here and not make the modern error of compassion (pretended
mercy and love) over justice. What is the worst sin or crime
under God’s judgment? Pre-meditated murder? Stealing from the
church offering? Robbing widows and orphans? Drunken driving?
No, a hardened heart
evidenced by unrepentance. Pre-meditated murder shows deliberate
intention over time. Repetitive crimes show a pattern that has
no regret. Vicious crimes show evidence of a disregard for the
value of human life.
Now, there is a
difference between sorrow at getting caught and repentance.
The Bible describes this in II Corinthians 7:8-12. We do not
have the time to go into these distinctions, but this
incorrigibility is of central importance to Biblical justice.
The goals in justice are always restitution, reconciliation, and
repentance (a changed mind and behavior). However, the
evidences of a hardened heart in the absence of any concept of
the value of property or animal and human life and repetitive
crimes demonstrate the difficulty, if not impossibility, of
these three goals.
So, even within the
particulars of Old Testament law, justice and even mercy, are
woven into the law.
But, with solid evidence
of recalcitrance and the severity of crimes performed,
punishment must be carried out, including the death penalty.
2) Every effort should
be made to see that the law if fairly applied in individual
cases and in all cases consistently.
This principle seems self-explanatory.
3) Distinction between
sins and crimes.
Passages like Matthew 5:38b and Romans 12:17-21 are instructions
in personal relationships with believers and unbelievers, not
the avoidance of self-defense or tolerance of repetitive crimes.
Crimes within the framework of justice and mercy above, must be
punished according to the law, as prescribed by Romans 13:1-5
and elsewhere. While Christians must be pacifists relative to
personal revenge and tolerant to personal offenses, they cannot
be tolerant to evil. God has ordained the “sword” of the civil
government to this end.
While the church is
limited to the power of spiritual judgment only, the power of
the state may have to be appealed for intervention if the person
who is disciplined becomes physically aggressive towards the
church or any of its members. Likewise, the church may assist
the state to carry out acts of mercy and love, even as the state
exercises the power of the “sword” (physical punishment). So,
each has its sphere, but the two should be mutually supportive
to each other’s mission.
Can’t Be Serious: The Old Testament Law Today?
I am so serious that I
will go further. The Old Testament Law is the only source of
ethics and law that will deliver us from the modern culture of
disease, debt, and death. Am I then, a theonomist? Well, yes
and no. I am a theonomist in the sense in which I just made that
statement and the statements that follow here. I am not a
theonomist by the caricature in which that term is usually
applied. If you have come this far, come with me further. (And,
for a reasoned view of theonomists, see Reconstruction under
The Apostle Paul said,
“You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain” (I
Corinthians 9:9; I Timothy 5:18). Virtually every Christian,
especially pastors, agree that this verse applies to the payment
of support for ministers of the Word. Yet, look at the leap!
From allowing an ox to graze while working in Old Testament
times to the financial support of 21st Century
ministers and missions is a huge leap! Christian, don’t miss
this leap. It is central to the concept of worldview and the
solution of social and state concerns.
Or, “When you build a
new house, then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you
may not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone
falls from it” (Deuteronomy 22:8). A modern application would be
to have a fence around one’s swimming pool to prevent children
and animals from falling in and drowning or on a balcony on a
building. Again, from Old Testament homes with roofs on which
people walked to modern swimming pools and balconies is a vast
leap of time and culture.
I believe that diligent
study would find great creativity in the application of these
laws to modern society. But, if the study is not done, we will
never benefit from God’s gracious instructions.
If the choice that
Moses gave to his people was to follow the law to life and
prosperity or to disregard the law to their destruction and
despair (see below), is our choice any different today? Is not
our choice to follow God’s law today the same as that proclaimed
by our forefathers to the ends of “life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness.” (10)
This Importance of the Law Is Just “Old Hat”
We have forgotten our
heritage. The Reformers (John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Knox,
and others) knew this Old Testament link. I have quoted William
Blackstone who probably applied more Biblical law to civil law
than any other man in history. The English common law was
sometimes called “The Law of Liberty of Moses.” Its application
to case law became so widely known that even today one
definition of equity is that system of law.
And, there is the
obvious heritage of the Ten Commandments. Our example of
“muzzling the ox” as paying the preacher would be covered by the
Eighth Commandment. Our example of fencing one’s roof or
swimming pool would be covered by the Sixth Commandment.
Perhaps, the greatest
expression of the broad, but accurate, application of the Ten
Commandments is the Larger Catechism of the Westminster
Confession of Faith. In the discussion of this website title,
"The", I have shown how Christians in the
pro-life movement could have found balance in their views of
capital punishment, just war, and self-defense from Q/A 136 in
So, Christian, the Old
Testament as the basis of law and culture is not new!
As Blackstone said, it is as old as the Garden of Eden and man’s
musings in nature until Revelation. Explicitly, it is as old as
the Word written itself. More recently, it is the fabric and
foundation of the Protestant Reformation and the Great Awakening
(Oh, by the way, if you
agree that Paul was right, that is, God was right about “not
muzzling the ox” and paying workers of the Word, then you are a
What About the New Testament?
If you want to throw
out the Old Testament and avoid being a true theonomist, the New
Testament will not let you off the hook. While the New Testament
does not have the civil application of the law, as the Old
Testament does, there is considerable evidence that the law
continued to have the same high regard in the New Testament, as
in the old.
There is also the
question, “Where does any law come from?” Law always and
inevitably comes from someone’s ethics, that is what one thinks
is right or wrong or what one considers to be righteous or
sinful. As we will see in the next section, the sources for
morality are quite limited, and their authority is quite suspect
from the beginning (rule of a majority vote or individual
“But if our
unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we
say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a
man). God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?”
(Romans 3:5-6). My simple conclusion is that, if the law is
God’s criteria for judging the world, can there be criteria from
any other source that is better?
Let every soul
be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no
authority except from God, and the authorities that
exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists
the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those
who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers
are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want
to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and
you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s
minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid;
for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s
minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who
practices evil. (Romans 13:1-4)
State authorities are
to “minister to you for good” and “to execute wrath on him who
practices evil.” The full power of these simple phrases here can
be easily missed. How does a minister determine what is good
and what is evil? If he cannot determine what is good and what
is evil, then he cannot “minister.”
Now, as a Christian,
where do you want him to get his concepts of good and evil? From
the All Righteous God and His Word? Or, from totally sinful man
and his creative ideas? Even, if you chose the latter, you must
still have some standard by which to know what is good and evil
from the thousands of ideas and proposals from history and
modern times. A standard of right and wrong is inescapable.
The only alternatives are back to an arbitrary majority or
individual power. It follows that any magistrate who
pervasively, persistently, and importantly avoids what is good
and enjoins what is evil, is thereby no true civil magistrate,
though he may retain considerable state power.
I simply propose that
the New Testament and the Old Testament are the greatest source
of moral good, and therefore, the greatest source for “good”
I make no claim that
the application of Old and New Testament law is either easy or
straightforward. However, the first step for the Bible-believing
Christian is to understand that God has provided this law for
the benefit of mankind, both Christian and non-Christian.
There are really only
two choices in law-making, as in ethics: man’s ethics and law or
God’s ethics and law. And, under man’s law, there are only two
choices: rule of the majority (in legislative process, judicial
decision [where more than one judge rules] or popular vote)
the majority in legislative process, judicial
decision (where more than one judge presides) or
Dictatorship or judicial decision where one man
You might respond,
“Even if the entire Bible is believed as law, the same two
processes have to take place to enact law.” Yes, I agree, but
in accepting the Bible as the source of law, all persons in the
process of writing or positing law are limited to one body of
knowledge and not the entire range of human opinion from all of
And, there is
considerable historical precedent, as recorded above. This
history allows lawmakers to see how the peoples of those times,
also distant from Biblical times and culture, applied law to
Sanction or Penalty for Crimes
Then, there is the
problem of sanction, that is, what penalty is imposed for a
crime? Without the Bible, where does one go for a punishment
that fit’s the crime? Perhaps, historically, this connection can
be seen more clearly. With rex lex, the king is law,
subjects could be executed for a petty crime against the state
or against the king. And, not only the king, but any nobleman or
high-ranking person could impose virtually any penalty on their
serfs or slaves.
The institution of “an
eye for an eye,” by Moses, as directed by God, was actually a
strict limitation on the culture of the times. When one man
killed another, the family of the man killed would retaliate,
not with a life for a life, but against anyone or several of the
killer’s family -- and, such back and forth killing could go on
for generations. The Mosaic limit morally and legally limited
such escalation of murders.
The concept of
restitution, also limited such wanton allowance of “payment” for
harm that was done through property damage. An Israelite could
not just destroy the entire herd of someone who had stolen one
of his sheep. He was due restitution “in kind,” sometimes
additional compensation applied for the hardship of doing
without what was stolen or for other reasons, such as, the cost
of catching the malefactor.
Difference Does It Make? The Great Cost!!
“Trifles,” you say. “We
have a great system of law in American today!” I agree. We do
have a great system of law. The best in the world. But, not the
best in history, and a costly system even in its “greatness.”
Forgive me for not looking up the current number, but the cost
of the War on Poverty since the mid-1960s is somewhere over $50
trillion. And, by the same standards by which this war was
engaged, nothing has changed! $50 trillion! Any rational person
would conclude that the plan was defective, but we continue to
spend more and more.
Social security is
power of the dollar is about 1/10 of what it was in the
mid-1950s. That means that it takes $1.00 to buy what you
could buy for $0.10 in 1950. I remember going to the store
for my mother to buy a loaf of bread for $0.14 (including
one penny sales tax), which left me a penny for myself from
Over $1 trillion a
year is now spent on medical care in the United States for a
net negative effect on health of American citizens. That
statement may be a jolt, but I have discussed this
The Economics of Medicine
Since Roe v. Wade, over 50 million unborn American
children have lost their lives in abortion facilities.
waxed and waned over the past several decades.
Euthanasia is an
facilitate IV drug abuse, illicit drugs, and sexual
Families and Children.
Easy divorce has wreaked havoc with American families and its
children. Fathers are able to leave their families with
virtually no income and the courts make it difficult, if not
impossible, for former wives to get support for her children.
move “foster” children from one home to another, instead of
placing them in a solid home permanently.
“Family” courts go
too far in allowing children to remain in homes of
alcoholics, drug addicts, and other parents who have
severely harmed their children by neglect.
have taken children from parent who have given corporal
The cost of unbiblical
laws is immeasurable in dollars, deaths, and the lives of
families and children. It is no small consequence to ignore and
defy the laws of God.
Just and righteousness.
relationship of justice and righteousness are evidenced by the
fact that the same Greek word, dikaios, may be translated
“just,” as in “the just shall live by faith“ (Romans 1:17), or
“righteous,” as in “the righteousness of God,” (Romans 3:21).
Often, these words are used the context of obedience to the law
or the concept of justice or judgment.
Justice and judgment.
‘justice’ and ‘judgment’ are actually used interchangeably
throughout the Bible. And for good reason. What is right and
just and true contradicts and condemns what is evil and wicked
and perverse.” (George Grant, The Micah Mandate, page
Synonyms of Biblical
law. There are
many synonyms of biblical law, especially in the Old Testament:
precepts, commands, commandments, statute, principle, code, act,
enactment, ordinance, decree, directive, edict, fiat, ruling,
regulation, rule, prohibition, restriction, canon, testimonies,
His ways, righteous judgments, Your Word, wonderful works,
truth, and moral law. Many, if not most, of these are found in
Psalm 119 alone!
Your Body and Break Up Your Life
The only difference
between the law of gravity and God’s laws for life is the
freedom to choose in the latter.
When a persons jumps off a building, the law of gravity takes
over and his body will be broken on the ground below. When this
law is broken, the choice is irreversible. But, what is often
overlooked is that violation of God’s laws for life are just as
destructive, if not more so. Violation of God’s laws of
sexuality has resulted in the epidemic of sexually transmitted
diseases that is present today. The violation of His laws for
marriage has caused immeasurable heartache, economic expense,
medical and psychological problems, and millions of children
with the horror of divorce. The violation of laws of economics
has caused runaway inflation. (See all the examples above.)
There is great freedom
in God’s law.
When the laws of gravity and aerodynamics are obeyed, there is
great freedom in flight via airplane, sail plane, kites,
gliders, parachute, and sky-diving.
When God’s laws for
life are obeyed, there is great freedom and reward. Marriage
gives security, mutual help, reduced expenses, time to pursue
other interests, and the great reward of children. There are
several studies that even show that sexual enjoyment (by
self-assessment of the individuals themselves) in marriage
exceeds that of singles.
Following God’s laws of
economic freedom in production and trade has produced the great
prosperity of the West, and now East, even though that freedom
is severely threatened today.
Too many people,
perhaps even many Christians, think of God’s laws as
restrictive, but in reality they provide great freedom and peace
for individuals, families, cities, states, and nations.
The instruction of
Micah 6:8 is a simple phrase, “to do justly, and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God.” It is quoted often by both
liberal and conservative Christians. I trust, however, that you
now realize that the first and second instructions of The Micah
Mandate invoke the full application of the entirety of the Old
and New Testament law at the level of individuals, families, and
nations! This verse is no simplistic direction, but the same as
The Cultural Mandate of Genesis 1 and The Great Commission of
Matthew 28! George Grant has written a wonderful book by the
same title as this section. (See Endnotes.)
Life -- Anti-Law Is Death
As Moses gave a choice
to his people, we have the same choice today. “I call heaven and
earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you
life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life,
that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy
United States has chosen the opposite of God’s law. Therefore,
we are increasing the presence of real death.
John Calvin in his
commentary on Matthew summarizes Christ’s identity of The Golden
Rule, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to
them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
Our Lord does
not intend to say, that this is the only point of
doctrine laid down in the law and the prophets, but that
all the precepts which they contain about charity, and
all the laws and exhortations found in them about
maintaining justice, have a reference to this object.
The meaning is, that the second table of the law is
fulfilled, when every man conducts himself in the same
manner towards others, as he wishes them to conduct
themselves towards him. There is no need, he tells us,
of long and involved debates, if this simplicity is
preserved, and if men do not, by inordinate self-love,
efface the rectitude which is engraved on their hearts.
Perhaps the best
source of the practical application of the Second Table of the
Ten Commandments is an article wrote in 1955, entitled
"Understanding and Misunderstanding the Hebrew-Christian Law of
A. The Plain
Teaching of Scripture
613 Commandments of the Old Testament
2) Robertson McQuilkin,
An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, (Tyndale: 1989),
pages 45-83, citing Robert C. McQuilkin, God’s Law and God’s
Grace, (Eerdmans, 1958), pages 13-17).
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary with 26 definitions of law.
3) I have substituted
“worldview” for “ethic.” They are synonyms. John Murray,
Principles of Conduct, (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1957). Available
4) See Jay Adams,
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage, available from
5) See Jay Adams,
Handbook of Church Discipline, available from
6) There is a website
devoted to The Law of Nature and of Nature and Of Nature’s God,
www.lonang.com. Just remember that Biblical law
always trumps and is more explicit than “natural law.” Quotes in
7) In my readings for
this article, I frequently came across “beauty” relative to
grace, mercy, and love. What greater beauty can there be than
that of God’s harmony in all things involving His universe and
plan for mankind?
Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
9) Equitable reviews of
theonomy and theonomists. Link to Link.
10) I am told by a
legal scholar that with the early influence of the
Enlightenment, “life, liberty, and property” became “life,
liberty, and happiness.” If a man cannot own property, he cannot
protect his “life” or have true “liberty.” These concepts are
The following books are
incomparable on the issues discussed in this article.
Unfortunately, those not listed in Our Bookstore are Out of
Print. However, used copies may be found among used books at
Amazon.com and many other used book dealers. They are worth
Loving God With Your Mind Without Being an Intellectual
The Micah Mandate. (Chicago: Moody, 1995). Available
Henry, Carl F. H.
Aspects of Christian Social Ethics. (Grand Rapids:
Baker Book House, 1964). Especially, read the last chapter.
C. God’s Law and God’s Grace. (Grand Rapids:
Robertson. An Introduction to Biblical Ethics.
(Wheaton: Tyndale, 1989). Available from
Principle of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics. (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957). Available from
Ethical Reflections: Essays on Moral Themes. (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978.
Theological Reflections. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981).