“Though in their essential nature these two (law and Gospel) are far apart, they are nonetheless most intimately joined in one and the same heart. Nothing is linked more closely than fear and confidence, Law and Gospel, sin and grace. For they are so connected that the one absorbs the other. Therefore, there can be no mathematical combination that is like this.”
In His “First disputation against the Antinomians” Martin Luther outlined the two chief parts of the Christian doctrine, Law and Gospel. The Law has to do with God’s wrath, His penalty for unrighteousness, His condemnation of sin, and the Gospel is the beautiful message of God’s grace, of righteousness imparted on us through the death and resurrection of His Son and His forgiveness of sin for all those who believe.
C.F.W. Walther, a great name in Lutheran history that helped to found the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod in 1847, said that every sermon should have both elements. He said that pastors should use the Law to crush the sinner and the Gospel to bring them back to life.
In large part this method has been lost in many churches because the Gospel is much better received. No one likes to hear of their guilt. They would much rather hear of their salvation under Christ. They don’t want to hear about what caused the Savior to suffer, just the aftermath of God’s grace.
In fact, “All Scripture is breathed by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). That means both Law and Gospel have equal value in God’s eyes and one should not be ignored in favor of the other, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Walther was wise to see the value in both because they have everything to do with each other. The law shows us our need for Christ and the Gospel is God’s story of how He met that need, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Today, come to grips with your need for a Savior and take time to ponder the gift of salvation won for us by His most unselfish sacrifice.
Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for the many times we have forsaken Your Law for our own worldly gain and thank You for loving us enough for giving us Your Son so that we might escape our due reward. Amen.