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The Rev. Dr. Robert Bowman: “Not to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17-20)

August 30, 2007

Continuing with his series on the Sermon on the Mount, this week the Rev. Dr. Robert Bowman of St. Luke’s REC in California gives us the sermon Not to abolish, but to fulfill. This message is based on Matthew 5:17-20, and I would say Dr. Bowman gives one of the best summations I’ve seen of what the Law means to us as followers of Christ:

By the word “Law” the Lord Jesus is referring to the entirety of the Old Testament Scriptures. He doesn’t speak about Law-keeping, but about hungering and thirsting after righteousness. What is the place of the Law in the lives of Christians?
1) The Law expresses the character of God & His will for our lives.
2) The Law reveals God and teaches us our true character.
3) The Law teaches us the character of salvation.
In the Law we see His holiness, our lack of holiness and the goal of Christian living. The Lord Jesus comes to fulfill this Law, to give us His righteousness. Through the life of the Lord Jesus we understand that the Law goes hand in hand with the Gospel.

J. Gresham Machen wrote this about Christ’s fulfillment of the Law: We can put it briefly by saying that Christ took our place with respect to the law of God. He paid for us the law’s penalty, and He obeyed for us the law’s commands.  As Dr. Bowman says, Jesus came to fulfill the Law and to give us His righteousness.  What a debt we indeed owe to the Lord!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2007 1:32 am

    The rejection of Calvin’s Three Uses of the Law is one of the Reformed Church’s downfalls. Most believe in the first, that the Law leads us to repentance, but many reject the second and third which say that the law is for civil use and that the law is for sanctification purposes. I have found that those that reject the second and third uses tend to strugle with their walk.

  2. August 30, 2007 2:10 am


    That makes sense to me, as I can definitely see the Law’s use in our sanctification. If we reject this use of the Law, how will we ourselves ever be sanctified?

    I found this article on the Three Uses of the Law as Calvin understood them:

    Thanks so much for mentioning the “Three Uses.”

  3. August 30, 2007 4:50 pm

    Boy, The Rev. Bowman really rises to his subject matter. Another of my heros I hope to meet in person at the REC Synod in October.

    Thanks to Mike Spreng for his comments and also for his blog Anglican Thought which I visit regularly.

    Also to Will, thanks for the link to the Calvin article on the “three uses” at the Discipleship Journal site which looks worthy of more visits.

    I did not realize that the three uses of the law had been rejected. Why so Mike? They, the three uses, make sense to me.

  4. August 31, 2007 12:36 am


    I can’t speak for Mike, and perhaps he can elaborate on your question. But my guess is that what he is referring to is the rejection by modernistic thinkers of the Second and Third Uses of the Law, (particularly that Third Use, for sanctification) which a lot of more traditional types might say would lead to antinomianism in the Church. But perhaps Mike can correct me if need be.

    That REC Synod meeting you will attend in October should be GREAT!

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