This book investigates the biblical and theological basis for the classical division of biblical law into moral, civil, and ceremonial. It highlights some of the implications of this division for the doctrines of sin and atonement, concluding that theologians were right to see it as rooted in Scripture and the Ten Commandments as ever-binding.
About the Author
Philip S. Ross is a theological editor who studied in Wales. He worked extensively on the well-received Christian Heritage editions of The Marrow of Modern Divinity and subtitled five John Owen works – The Glory of Christ, The Holy Spirit, Communion with God, Assurance and The Priesthood of Christ. Philip lives near Loch Lomond in Scotland with his wife and three children.
"Philip Ross has done the Christian church a marvelous service by on the one hand affirming the theological roots concerning the Reformation blessing concerning the three-fold use of the Law in the Covenant of Grace and at the same time, unfolding for the reader of this book implications and vistas for the effective use of God's Law in the Gospel ministry. Philip has, on the one hand, cleared away the underbrush and overgrowth which has grown up in today's efforts of Biblical scholarship which at times has sometimes superficial and other times speculative for the purpose of novelty. Yet simultaneously Philip has pressed forward with insightful highlights as to the New Testament role of the Law of God as it is fulfilled in Christ pressed upon the hearts of the lost thereby sending them to Christ and used in the Hands of the Holy Spirit to direct believers as they follow Christ in the pursuit of joyful holiness." - Harry L. Reeder, Pastor of Preaching & Leadership, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama
"Philip Ross has dealt with issues lying near the heart of the Christian life (and indeed, of the healthy functioning of any human society) in this careful, fair, and, at times, humorous (or at least, entertaining and attention-holding) study of the continuing validity of God's law... I will be frequently referring to his volume in my classes, and warmly commend it - Douglas F. Kelly, Richard Jordan Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina
"The question dealt with in this book is the relationship between the laws and requirements of the Old Testament and those of the New. Are these still obligatory on the New Testament Church? In dealing with this question the author suggests a threefold classification, and provides a very full analysis of the arguments in favour of that classification from many authors down through the centuries, as well as of those who write against that classification. I commend it to all who wish to live by the Scriptures." - Lord Mackay of Clashfern, Retired Lord Chancellor & Patron of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship
"This book is a valuable contribution to discussion about the question of the nature of the unity of biblical law in the context of the diversity of its threefold historical function. It demonstrates how the finality of the person and work of Christ is the crux of the matter and how the atonement has law as its background. A readable presentation of the biblical data relevant to the subject that leaves no stone unturned." - Paul Wells, Adjunct dean of the Faculté Jean Calvin in Aix-en-Provence, France
"Like me, you may never have thought that the division of the Law into the categories of civil, ceremonial and moral needed prolonged enquiry. When you read this book you will be glad that Dr. Ross thought otherwise. The book would be worthwhile if only for the discussion of the Decalogue or of the fulfilment of the Old Testament in the New , but there is something for the Bible lover on every page, as well as a demanding but readable opening up of a huge area of biblical enquiry, that takes us with profit from Genesis through to the Lord Jesus and his apostles. A real and rewarding mind-opener." - Alec Motyer, Well known Bible expositor and commentary writer
"In recent times, little has weakened biblical theology more than the tendency to collapse all the rules and statutes of the Old Testament into one uniform corpus of law material. In this timely and extremely helpful study, Dr Philip Ross demonstrates not only that the division of the law into moral, civil and ceremonial categories arises out of a natural reading of the biblical text, but that its adoption in Patristic, Reformed and Puritan literature shows it to have been the orthodox position of the church. To lose this confessional distinctive is to drive an unbiblical wedge between the Testaments, and to eviscerate the gospel itself. Unless the moral law is still in force, how can we define sin? And unless we can define sin, what gospel can we preach? Dr Ross's work is an important corrective to much misunderstanding on the nature and place of God's law in the Bible, and a reliable guide both to the primary and secondary literature on the subject." - Iain D. Campbell, Minister, Point Free Church of Scotland, Isle of Lewis