Where Calvinism Goes So Deadly Wrong with the Law of God
“Calvinists differ from Lutherans in their understanding of the relationship between Law and Gospel. They do believe that justification is a gift of God by which the sinful person is received into God’s favor and forgiven because the righteousness of Christ is credited to them. This acceptance is not earned by obeying the Law.
“Calvinists view the Law as necessary in securing justification. To secure is to establish, to make sure one’s status. The Law-keeping of sanctification is the basis on which the justified person receives benefits from the relationship he or she has with God. Calvinists say that “holiness, or conformity to the divine law, is the indispensable condition for securing favor, attaining peace of conscience, and enjoying fellowship with God” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Eerdmans, 1941, p. 472). This, they say, is the meaning of Heb. 12:14: “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
“Calvinist writers call the Law a means of grace—for securing one’s justification, strengthening one’s personal assurance of being justified, and for coming into possession of the blessings of the covenant that one enjoys with God. Calvinism teaches three uses of the Law. Unlike Lutheran theology, which sees the Law as a mirror, curb, and rule, their Third Use of the Law spurs or stimulates one to attain moral righteousness. Thus, the indispensable condition for securing God’s favor can be fulfilled. The Law becomes a means of sanctification by exciting and directing spiritual activity. By calling forth obedience the Law brings about sanctification and leads people in the way of life and salvation.
Thomas Manteufel and Arnold E. Schmidt, Churches in America, electronic ed., 40 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2000).