The giving of the law was glorious. Moses’ face shone when he came down the mountain. But the glory of the Gospel so far excels the glory of the law that it is as if the law had no glory at all by comparison (2 Cor. 3:9-10). If the law was glorious, and yet it was a ministration of death (i.e., the law serves us with death (2 Cor. 3:7)), how much more glorious is the Gospel, which is a ministration of life (i.e., the Gospel serves us with life (2 Cor. 3:6))?! The law was written with letters on stone. The Gospel is written by the Spirit of God on the hearts of men (2 Cor. 3:2-3; Heb. 10-12; 1 John 2:20-21, 27). The law is a ministration of condemnation to guilty sinners (2 Cor. 3:9). The Gospel is a ministration of the gift of righteousness to guilty sinners, the obedience of Christ that fulfilled the law (2 Cor. 3:9; 5:21; Php. 2:6-8). The law was abolished (2 Cor. 3:7, 11; Heb. 8:13). The Gospel remains. The law had to do with physical, earthly, temporal things. The Gospel has to do with spiritual, heavenly, eternal things. The law was to be done away, as foreshadowed by the fading shine on Moses' face. But the Gospel is everlasting, as is evident in the glory of God seen in the face of Jesus Christ (Rev. 14:6; 2 Cor. 3:18).
Law-preachers need things to commend themselves, for their own gratification and to gain the praise of others. But Gospel-preachers need no commendation from men. The work of the Spirit of Christ in the hearts of believing sinners is Christ’s commendation of the preaching of His Gospel to sinners. That commendation gives Him all glory. The Gospel is Christ’s Gospel (2 Cor. 2:12). It is the Gospel of the Grace of our great God and Savior (Acts 20:24; Titus 1:3-4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6). It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes (Rom. 1:16).
Moses went up the mountain to receive from God the covenant of works on tables of stone. He brought that writing of the covenant to Israel. Israel agreed to keep the conditions of that covenant. The covenant stipulated blessings for obedience, and cursings for disobedience. But in the covenant of grace, the New Testament, Christ did not ascend up to heaven (John 3:13). He came from heaven (Rom. 10:6-7). He did not take the writing of the covenant from God for men to keep to obtain the blessings and avoid the cursings in that covenant. He Himself had God's law in His heart (Ps. 40:6-8). And He Himself came to do the will of God for His people, all those for whom, as the covenant Head, He acted alone (Rom. 5:19; Heb. 10:5-7). He did the will of His Father (John 4:34; 6:38; 17:1-4; 19:30). He finished the work. He fulfilled the law (Rom. 10:4). His obedience unto death is everlasting righteousness. But He acted for His people, in their place. He did not need righteousness for Himself (Luke 1:35; Heb. 7:26). But He established everlasting righteousness for His people (Dan. 9:24; Jer. 23:5-6), a righteousness that honored and magnified God's law (Deut. 6:25; Isa. 42:21). Christ, our Mediator, descended from heaven to fulfill the everlasting covenant of grace to obtain and give to His people the blessings promised in that covenant before the world was created (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:1-2). Christ obtained every gift promised in that covenant: everlasting righteousness, eternal justification, remission of sins, reconciliation, cleansing from sins, sanctification (made holy to God), perfected forever and eternal inheritance. There is no blessing in the covenant of grace that Christ, by His shed blood in obedience to His Father (Heb. 10:5-18) did not obtain. It is therefore a covenant of grace. And it is a Testament (Heb. 9:14-16), which required Christ, the One who made that Testament, to die to put its blessings into force (Heb. 13:20; Matt. 26:28).
The law obscures God (2 Cor. 3:13-16). Who can know God through the law (Matt. 11:25-27; John 1:17-18)? How can we know God through that covenant which requires our personal obedience as the condition of all blessings, and threatens us with eternal death for the smallest, incidental failure?! The law stirs up hatred in our sinful hearts towards God (Rom. 5:20; 8:7). It requires continual, complete, perfect obedience for life, and pronounces curses for the smallest failure (Gal. 3:10, 12). But the Gospel makes God known (John 1:16-17). In the Gospel we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18; 4:6). We see Christ’s loving humility in His will and work to save guilty sinners, by taking their sins from them, by paying God for them, and by removing those sins from before God’s face forever. Such loving humility, such holy selflessness, such all-providing, all-sufficient grace, makes Christ gloriously attractive to guilty, condemned, sin-plagued sinners.
Moses was the only preacher of the law in the wilderness of Sinai. But the Gospel is preached by a great company. “The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it” (Ps. 68:11). The glorious Gospel of Christ is preached throughout the world in the lives and by the mouths of the redeemed (Ps. 107:2). They who preach it, preach it with the plainest of speech (1 Tim. 1:15).
In baptism and the Lord's Table, every believer declares the Gospel of Christ crucified. When we are baptized, we confess Christ crucified as our Surety, who in the covenant of God’s grace, stood up as our covenant Head, substituted Himself for us, carried us throughout His life, took us to death with Him when He went to the cross (Rom. 6:6, 11), took us into His grave with Him and raised us from the dead, delivered us from sin and death and every consequence of our sin. When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and take and eat and drink from the Lord’s Table, we declare Christ crucified as all of our salvation and life (1 Cor. 11:26).
They who received the law could not look to the end of that glory. Moses hid his face behind a veil. But, we preach Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes (Rom. 10:4). Gospel preaching, applied by the Spirit of God, makes Christ known, and so makes God known (Gal. 3:1; John 14:9). He is the Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24). He is the salvation of God (Isa. 49:6). He is our salvation (Ps. 35:3; 27:1; Isa. 12:2; Lk. 2:30; Acts 4:12). The Gospel proclaims His unsearchable riches (Eph. 3:8). It reveals Christ in His glory, the glory of God, who makes known His glory in Christ’s cross (2 Cor. 4:6; Jer. 17:12). As one preacher put it, “Calvary, and the broken body of Jesus, is the most God-like thing that God ever did.”
I am thankful there are many Gospel preachers in our day. But their number seems, at least to me, to be very few by comparison to the number of false preachers. David said he had never seen the Lord’s people forsaken or begging bread (Ps. 37:25). We know that our great Shepherd will feed His sheep (Ps. 23). How glorious is this great Gospel of His grace, that He would publish His word clearly through many voices, and not obscurely through only one (Ex. 18:14; John 8:6)!