The Difference Between the Law and the Gospel: Which Do You Preach More?

I’m pursuing ordination with the goal of finishing in early October. So far, my greatest joy in the process has been working through the four volumes of Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics. He brilliantly summarizes the difference between the law and the gospel in the paragraph below.

As you read, ask yourself if one comes out in your preaching more. If you find that you’re a bit out of whack, consider what adjustments you have to make.

“The Reformation, however, held to the unity of the covenant of grace in its two dispensations while at the same time sharply contrasting law and gospel. According to the Reformed tradition, law and gospel describe two revelations of the divine will. The law is God’s holy, wise, good, and spiritual will, which on account of sin has now been made powerless, fails to justify, and increases sin and condemnation. The gospel, as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise, has Christ as its content and conveys grace, reconciliation, forgiveness, righteousness, peace, freedom, and life. The law proceeds from God’s holiness, is known from nature, addresses all people, demands perfect righteousness, gives eternal life by works, and condemns. By contrast, the gospel proceeds from God’s grace, is righteousness, produces good works in faith, and acquits. Faith and repentance are always components of gospel, not law. The gospel, therefore, always presupposes the law and differs from it especially in content.” (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 4 442).


  1. Just preached on this distinction last week. A critical distinction needs to be made between law and gospel. So many preachers today do not get it. A critical aspect of theology. Great post.

  2. James Pitcher says:

    This article describes the differences between law and gospel. I understand that. But what about how to use each in preaching. Am I right to say that both need to be preached. That law condemns us and is to drive sinners to a state where they understand how sinful they are but we preach the gospel to show how to be forgiven?