Philip Graham Ryken writes in the Preface to his book, “Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis”:
“He who knows how to distinguish Gospel from Law should thank God and know that he is a theologian.” This statement from Martin Luther always gives me pause because I’m not sure that I can make such a claim. Few things are more difficult to master than the biblical teaching about the law in its relationship to the gospel. Yet my prayer is that as you read this book you will gain clearer insight into both what God demands in his law and what he gives in his gospel.
Good teaching on the law and the gospel has never been more badly needed than it is today. We are living in lawless times, when disrespect for authority has led to widespread disdain for God’s commandments. People are behaving badly, even in church. Part of the problem is that there is an appalling lack of familiarity with the perfect standard of God’s law, and of course the situation is worse in the culture at large. This ignorance undoubtedly contributes to the general lowering of moral standards in these post-Christian times, but it does as much damage to our theology. People who are ignorant of God’s law never see their need for the gospel. As John Bunyan explained it, “The man who does not know the nature of the law cannot know the nature of sin. And he who does not know the nature of sin cannot know the nature of the Savior.”
This book is about God’s law—specifically the Ten Commandments—but it is also intended to help people understand the gospel. The law is what shows us our need for the saving work of Jesus Christ. Then, once we come to Christ by believing in the gospel of his cross and empty tomb, it shows us how to live for his glory. In the pages that follow I have tried to be practical, showing what the Ten Commandments mean for daily life. By way of illustration, I have chosen a Bible story that shows what happens when each commandment gets broken. I have also tried to be Christ-centered, constantly explaining how the law relates to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Philip Graham Ryken is Senior Minister at Philadelphia’s historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. He preached there as an Associate Minister of Preaching for five years under the late James Montgomery Boice before taking over the Senior Minister position. Both men have written some extremely helpful and encouraging books for the flock. This is one of the books that I received for my birthday, and I am really looking forward to reading this one (as well as the other 350 that are currently on my reading list! 🙂
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Peace & Blessings