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Law And Gospel

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Michelle Potts

on 23 June 2017

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Transcript of Law And Gospel

Law And Gospel
“The true knowledge of the distinction between Law and Gospel is not only a glorious light, affording the correct understanding of the entire Scriptures, but without this knowledge Scripture is and remains a sealed book.”
C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1926)
The Bible is a difficult book to read. It is full of strange characters, unfamiliar cultures, and complicated series of events. Anyone who thinks that the Bible is simple to read and understand has obviously spent very little time actually reading it. Most of what people know of the Bible they have learned in Church, Sunday school, or from their parents. This is a very good thing. After all, Jesus did instruct us to make disciples by going, teaching, and baptizing (Matthew 28).
Recognition - The Gospel
Here are some tips to follow when identifying the Gospel in Scripture:
The Gospel is the sweet news of forgiveness that Christ won for us on the cross! It is the promise that we see all throughout Scripture. We find the Gospel wherever we find this promise.
We see this immediately after the fall into sin:
• I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:15)
And we see it in so many other places in Scripture:
• For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
• For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Still, a goal of this class and of Christendom in general is to make you a better reader and interpreter of the Bible. You are able to spend more time digesting the Word if your interaction with it is not confined to church or school. The Bible is for everyone to read and understand. There is no secret, easy way to become an intelligent student of the Bible—it comes only with practice over a long time. You might know a parent, grandparent, or pastor who is a master of the Bible. This is a product of many years of interaction with the word of God.
While there is no secret that will instantly turn you into a Bible scholar, there are a few concepts that will aid you greatly in your journey to biblical fluency. Of these concepts, nothing is greater than the distinction between law and gospel. All of scripture is composed of law and gospel, so once you begin to master this concept you will have a way to categorize every book, chapter, and verse of the Bible. Categorization is the foundation of understanding. Whether it is the account of Noah, or the words of John, you will be automatically equipped with a baseline understanding of what is going on.


The flip side is that if you cannot distinguish between law and gospel, you will never be able to understand scripture at all. Law and gospel, while they interact, are not similar in any way. To call a verse law when it is gospel is like saying that fried cheese is heart-healthy; it just isn’t right. This distinction is not only helpful, but it is also absolutely necessary if you seek to understand what God reveals in scripture.
Recognition - The Law
Here are some tips to follow when identifying the Law in Scripture:
• The Law sounds like a call-to-action. It directs us in what we are to do.
Here are some examples:
• You shall have no other gods. (Exodus 20:3)
• In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
• The Law convicts us of our sins.
• The Law causes one to reflect on how we have failed God. This typically results in a not-so-great feeling. It hurts to know that we have failed to live up to His expectations. The Law is typically applied as a correction. The Law in itself is a good thing. We should have no other gods than the Lord our God. We shouldn't murder people. Etc. We can identify the Law when we see these expectations and ask ourselves if we have lived up to their standard.

The greatest gospel and the central pillar of the entire Bible is the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Just as consequences are law, forgiveness is gospel. Forgiveness is God’s gift to us. All other gospel is connected to and flows out of this great gospel.
Application
Once you are able to recognize law and gospel, you are then able to apply it you your life and the lives of those around you. This is where the rubber really hits the road and a greater understanding of scripture begins to take place.

The Lethargic get the Law and the Guilty get the Gospel

Applying law and gospel seems simple. There are just two things to remember: people who are not sorry for what they have done and do not acknowledge wrongdoing before God need the application of law. Their lethargy in realizing their standing before God needs to be corrected by using the law. The second thing to remember is that those who realize their wrongdoing and acknowledge their guilt should receive the gospel. The gospel will heal burdened conscience, and the forgiveness of sins will bring new life to that person.
Let’s look at an example of application:

Brad: Mom, there’s something I need to talk to you about. I think I have a drinking problem. I’m really scared, and I want to get some help.

Brad’s Mom: Brad, don’t you know that drunkenness is condemned in scripture and that Paul says that drunkards have no share in the kingdom of God? You need to knock this drinking off right now.

Question: Is this a proper application of law? Why or why not?
Answer: This is an improper application of law. Brad feels guilty and knows his sin. Thus, he should hear some gospel from his Mom. Here is what should have happened:

Brad: Mom, there’s something I need to talk to you about. I think I have a drinking problem. I’m really scared, and I want to get some help.

Brad’s Mom: I’m so glad you came to me with this problem, Brad. I’ll do anything I can to help you beat it. But even if it’s a major struggle for you, know that Jesus Christ has paid the price for your sins, and you’ll always belong to him.
Law Gospel

Although forgiveness of sins through Christ is central, it is not the only gospel. Gospel includes all of the blessings that God daily gives to us. Your house, clothing, food, family, and every other thing that you have are gifts from God. Consequently, they are gospel.
LAW AND GOSPEL: A SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISON
THE LAW:
The law (Romans 7:12) shows us our sins and what we cannot do about them (Galatians 2:16).
THE GOSPEL:
The Gospel tells us what Christ has done about those sin (John 3:16), calls us to faith (2 Thessalonians 2:14), and allows us to repent of our sins (1 Timothy 1:15).
For the Christian, the Law and the Gospel also bring clarity and hope (Romans 5:2) into the reading of Holy Scripture.
To recap, the easiest way to remember the difference is the Law is what God expects of us (and what we fail at time and time again) and the Gospel is what God has done for us (saved us through His perfect life, death, and resurrection).
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