“There is no contradiction between God’s mercy and His justice, for both have different objects. The sinner, due to his sin, is the object of God’s justice; believers, for whom Christ has satisfied God’s justice, are the objects of God’s mercy.” — A Christian’s Reasonable Service Wilhelmus A’ Brakel Vol. 1, pg. 416
Wilhelmus A Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 3 pg. 43-44
The Law of the Ten Commandments: Not a Covenant of Works
Question: Is the law of the Ten Commandments a covenant of works?
Answer: No, we shall demonstrate this to be so for the following reasons:
First, God’s righteousness cannot permit a sinner to enter into a covenant of friendship without a Surety who bears the punishment of the broken covenant on behalf of the sinner. However, the Israelites were sinners and the Covenant of works is without surety. Thus, the law cannot be a covenant of works.
Secondly, the person with whom God would establish a covenant of works, ought to be able to satisfy the demands of the covenant of works, and to obtain life in consequence thereof, for God’s holiness, righteousness, and truth will not permit the establishment of a true covenant upon the basis of a dishonest promise of man…
Thirdly, if the law were a covenant of works, then Israel, and all believers of the New Testament (for they are all under obligation of the law), would simultaneously be in two opposite covenants. They were under the covenant of grace, or else no one could have been saved. “Therefore by the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight.” (Rom 3:20). And if the the law were a covenant of works, they would be simultaneously under the covenant of grace and the covenant of works. This is Impossible…
Fourthly, if the law were a covenant of works,man would have had to seek salvation by works, for it is thus declared, “For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.” (Rom 10:5)…
Fifthly, there can be no manifestation of mercy in the covenant of works; however, there is room for mercy in the law of the ten commandments. “but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Ex.20:6). Thus, the law is not the covenant of works.
By Wilhelmus A Brakel
Law and gospel are frequently placed in contradistinction to each other. If in such a contradistinction the reference is to the ceremonial law, its purpose is to refer to Christ’s coming in the flesh, whose coming was typified by the ceremonies. The gospel of fulfillment, however, declares that Christ has come. In the matter itself there can be no contradistinction, since the gospel is comprehended in the ceremonies and proclaimed by them.
However, there is an essential difference between the moral law and the gospel. The law has first of all been given by God the Lord as the sovereign, majestic, and sole Lawgiver, and is pertinent to all mankind. The gospel, however, is the manifestation of God as being “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exo. 34:6), and does not pertain to all, but only to some. Secondly, the law can partially be known by nature (Rom. 2:15), but the gospel can only be known by revelation (Eph. 3:5). Thirdly, the law is a condition of the covenant of works which promised salvation upon the perfect keeping of the law and knows of no forgiveness (cf. Rom. 10:5; Matt. 19:17).
The gospel, however, is a declaration of the covenant of grace, promising believers forgiveness and salvation by Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:8-9). Fourthly, the law begets the knowledge of sin in the sinner (Rom. 3:20), confronts him with wrath (Rom. 4:15), and thus brings forth fear and trembling (Isa. 33:14). The gospel, however, is the precious administration of the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). This gospel is the means whereby God calls men unto salvation.
God could immediately and nonverbally reveal Christ to man, bring him to Christ, cause him to believe in Him, and thus lead him to salvation. It has pleased the Lord, however, in order that His manifold wisdom be revealed and His other attributes be glorified, to make man a partaker of this salvation by means of the word of the gospel, leading rational man in a rational way. The use of this means is referred to as calling, since all men are going astray on a way which is not good and which leads to destruction. God calls out to men who are going astray that the way upon which they are traversing will make them eternally miserable, and invites them to come to Christ as the only way unto salvation.