Lutherans have an understanding that creates a peace that the world cannot destroy and an assurance that can’t be shaken. Understanding Law and Gospel makes the Bible so clear. The Law points out how lost and corrupt we are and we cannot help ourselves out of our lost condition. The Gospel brings us Jesus Christ. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV) That is the Good News… The Gospel! Christ has done for us what we can’t do. And the awesome thing is that it’s a gift. We don’t earn it. Because he loves his creation so much he did it all. When God comes to us with his mercy we receive the gift. It is not easy for our mind to comprehend. God is big and gives a big gift. Forgiveness of sin and eternal live through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I have been thinking about the law and gospel contrast between John the Baptist’s charge to the Pharisees and Sadducees and blind Bartimaeus’ cry for mercy. In Matt 3:7 John the Baptist convicts all of us… “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? No doubt about it, there’s nowhere to run. The Pharisees and Sadducees wouldn’t admit it but they were stranded by the side of the road of life just like the blind beggar Bartimaius. All Bartimaius could do is call out to Jesus with a LOUD voice. All we can do is call out to Jesus with a loud voice. Mark 10:47 “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Being told to keep quiet he called out again but louder. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When you are told to keep quiet do you call out all the louder? Jesus called Bartimaius to come to him. The God of mercy will never turn away from a cry for mercy. Jesus said… “Go your way. Your faith (which is also a gift from God) has made you well.”
John Newton (1725-1807) known for the great hymn “Amazing Grace” expressed understanding of Law and Gospel in another hymn he wrote…
“Safely Through Another Week” – Verse 5…
May Thy Gospel’s joyful sound
Conquer sinners, comfort saints;
Make the fruits of grace abound,
Bring relief for all complaints.
Thus may all our Sabbaths prove
Till we join the Church above.
Give the law to satisfied sinners.
Give the gospel to terrified sinners.
C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel
1. The Law must be preached to secure sinners.
2. The Gospel must be preached to terrified sinners.