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Distinguishing Between Law & Gospel

posted Oct 25, 2016, 10:04 AM by First Baptist

 

Introduction

 

Martin Luther said:

 

“The distinction between law and gospel is the highest art of Christiandom.

 

In other words, this father of the Reformation said it’s vitally important – indeed critical – that we distinguish between Law & Gospel. Too often, we fail to do so, with the result either being pride or despair in the life of the Christian.

 

What often happens is that we proclaim Gospel to the unbeliever, but then after their conversion, all they hear is Law. Again, this typically leads either to pride or despair.

 

 

Understanding Law

 

There are three categories of Law in the Bible: Ceremonial Law (how the Israelites were to conduct their worship), Judicial Law (how order was to be kept within Israel), and Moral Law (the commands of God concerning what is right & wrong).

 

1.      The Ceremonial Law & Judicial Law does not apply to Christians; only the Moral Law applies.

2.      The Moral Law appears in both the Old & New Testaments.

3.    The Moral Law promises eternal life to those who are able to completely & perfectly fulfill its requirements. It also promises eternal torment to those who fail to obey it perfectly.

4.      Since Adam’s fall, no mere human has been able to perfectly obey the Law. Therefore, all humans are doomed to its punishment.

 

 

The Purpose of the Law

 

Since no mere human can obey the Law perfectly,

what then is its purpose?

 

Answer: The Law is a curb,

a mirror, and a rule.

 

As a curb, the Law maintains discipline & decency among people; it keeps order. As a mirror, the Law brings about the knowledge of sin. As a rule, the Law establishes a fixed rule by which people are to live and walk according to God’s good plan.

 

The Law Kills

 

By its very nature, the Law kills. This is because, no matter how hard a person tries, he or she will fail to keep it completely. After hearing the Law proclaimed (and indeed, it must be proclaimed & taught), a person may have the best of intentions, but they will still fall short.

 

The Law then is intended to lead a person to the Gospel. This will be our topic next week.

 

 

Pastor Dan

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