Summary Principles

For discussion of 1-2, please see 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 fallible man.
  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 death ensue.
  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 saved.
  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.
  10. Some 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 philos.)
  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.)
  17. Biblical 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 penalty.
  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.
  19. “Social 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.
  20. Christianity 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.
  22. The 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 world.
  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 crimes.
  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.

Law and Love Are Founded in God’s Truth and Holiness (Righteousness), but Love Must Be Directed by God’s Law

Christian (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.

It is 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

“… dissolving 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 Bible

However, 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 truth.

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 13; etc.).

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 Truth

Many, 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.

What is Biblical Law?

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.

“This most 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).

2) The 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).

3) Obedience 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 2:21).

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.

(Teaching moment:

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.)

(2nd 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 say:

This is 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.

(And) This standard is personal, living, and visible rather than a dead code… It derives from His own nature.

Love Considered with Law as Background

Robertson McQuilkin. 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 28-29).

Perhaps, the 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 (McQuilkin’s emphasis).

G. I. Williamson.

Perhaps, the 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 sections:

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

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).

The new 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 obedient love.

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.

Love, Mercy, and Grace

Some theologians 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.

In salvation: “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!

Justice is 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.

If you want to know what to do (that is, to love), you have only one place to go — to 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 and adjustment.

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 145)

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) (3)

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. John 15:10

He who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

For the 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. James 2:8

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). The definition 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 born-again.

The 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 follow.

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 others.

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 principles.)

Biblical Justice between Christians

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

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 Courtroom

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 law.

But, in an ideally Biblical society, does the state have to be involved? No! 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.

Practical application: 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.

Capital Punishment

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 killer innocent.

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 and Punishment)

Social Justice

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 linked.

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. (Ed’s emphasis)

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 error.

This (man’s 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. (Ed’s emphasis)

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 in Hermeneutics.)

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.

Trying 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 heritage!

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 concepts.

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.

Mercy and Equity

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 fulfilled. For 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.

You 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 Worldview Areas.)

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)

But, 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 one phrase!

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 in America!

(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 true theonomist!)

Well, 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 power).

“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” civil law.

Nuances and More

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)

Rule of the majority in legislative process, judicial decision (where more than one judge presides) or popular vote.

Dictatorship or judicial decision where one man presides

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 man’s history.

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 themselves.

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.

What 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 bankrupt.

The purchasing 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 $0.15.

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 conclusion elsewhere. The Economics of Medicine


Since Roe v. Wade, over 50 million unborn American children have lost their lives in abortion facilities.

Infanticide has waxed and waned over the past several decades.

Euthanasia is an ever-present threat.

Civil laws facilitate IV drug abuse, illicit drugs, and sexual promiscuity.

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.

“Family” courts 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.

“Family” courts have taken children from parents who have given corporal punishment.

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.

Related Terms

Just and Righteousness

The 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

“The words, ‘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 89).

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!

Break 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.)

Freedom in Law

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 Micah Mandate

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.)

Law Is 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 30:19).

Increasingly, the United States has chosen the opposite of God’s law. Therefore, we are increasing the presence of real death.

The Golden Rule

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.

Special Resource

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 Love, Part 1 and Part 2.

A. The Plain Teaching of Scripture


1) 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).

4) See Jay Adams, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage.

5) See Jay Adams, Handbook of Church Discipline.

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 text from Section 2.

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?

8) http://www.opc.org/confessions.html 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 mutually dependent.


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 searching for.

Frame, John. Loving God With Your Mind Without Being an Intellectual Pharisee.

Grant, George. The Micah Mandate. (Chicago: Moody, 1995).

Henry, Carl F. H. Aspects of Christian Social Ethics. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964). Especially, read the last chapter.

McQuilkin, Robert C. God’s Law and God’s Grace. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958).

McQuilkin, Robertson. An Introduction to Biblical Ethics. (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1989).

Murray, John. Principle of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957).

Stob, Henry. Ethical Reflections: Essays on Moral Themes. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978.

Stob, Henry. Theological Reflections. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981).