Searching for an answer to the question about the “mechanism” to preach both the law and the gospel caused me to write this article. I find three helpful links.
The first link is the site of Green Baggins. Baggins wrote about the relationship between the law and the gospel in three parts. In the first part, he critiques John Frame’s position on the relationship between the law and the gospel. I am not certain if Baggins properly understood Frame. Frame’s position as Baggins understood it is contrary to Martin Luther’s position, which maintains a sharp distinction between the law and the gospel. Frame according to Baggins emphasized more on the interrelationship between the law and the gospel to the point of failing to distinguish between the two. To those who are not familiar with John Frame’s position, reading the second link helps.
The third link is a Google book by Herman Witsius (Thanks to “Reformed Viator” of FB’s Reformed Pinoy who introduced this link). I understand Baggins holding similar position as that of Herman Witsius, which affirms both strict distinction and interrelationship between the law and gospel. I see the nature of such relationship that the gospel exists in the law and that the gospel has its own law. I find Frame’s article giving similar emphasis.
Returning to Baggins, I find the comments on his article very educational. It is a very long thread and among numerous comments, I appreciate the response of R. Scott Clark the most especially his comment clarifying the relationship between the law and the gospel from John Calvin to John Murray. Reading the collection of quotes is most insightful particularly in reading J. Gresham Machen’s statement. Allow me to quote it again here:
“A new and more powerful proclamation of law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law. As it is, they are turning aside from the Christian pathway; they are turning to the village of Morality, and to the house of Mr. Legality, who is reported to be very skillful in relieving men of their burdens…” – J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937).
Since the original question is about finding for a “mechanism” to preach both the law and the gospel, I think Herman Witsius somehow gave a hint how to answer the question. Specifically, Witsius’ answer was a response to the question about the exact order the preaching of the law and the gospel to be conducted. For him, the question is inappropriate. He said, “To me the question seems almost superfluous and unprofitable, since the preaching of both (referring both to the law and the gospel) should always be conjoined.”
And this is the reason why I find Bryan Chapell’s homiletical approach relevant. Chapell popularized the idea of Fallen Condition Focus (FCF). Personally, I see in FCF the practical “mechanism” to resolve the difficulty in preaching both the law and the gospel in a sermon. By finding the FCF of a specific biblical text, you will find both the “law” and the “gospel”. An FCF identifies a specific problem or sin dealt by the biblical author, which contemporary listeners could relate similar to the condition of the original recipients. By discovering the problem dealt by the biblical text, we will also find the redemptive message in it.