1 way the 10 commandments are Gospel

People know that the Gospel promises forgiveness for sins. They know that sins are violations of God’s will. So they naturally look for ways to describe God’s will that was violated and distinguish it from God’s will that people find forgiveness for these violations through Jesus and what he did.

One such attempt is popularly known as “law and gospel.”

However, while this rough distinction works in limited contexts (sort of like Jesus saying the mustard seed is the smallest seed), it falls apart if one treats that shorthand as if it were a precise or scientific description.

For example, the Ten Commandments are often treated as “law” and thus contrasted with “Gospel.” But consider the Fifth command:

“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 5:16; ESV).

So children are supposed to honor their parents. And when they fall short of this command, their only comfort is that Jesus has provided them forgiveness.

But where are children supposed to learn about Jesus and this forgiveness?

It is not hard to find the answer. Parents are supposed to teach their children the Gospel.

“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:1-9; ESV).

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4; ESV).

So when fathers bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” the Fifth Commandment tells children to learn the Gospel from their parents and believe it!

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:1-6; ESV).

So, just like the First Commandment, the Fifth Commandment actually mandates faith in Jesus Christ and reliance on the grace of God in Him.


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