Where is the Gospel Application?

dailyhope-header-1920Rick Warren has a daily devotion that is free online!  The devotion is called Daily Hope with Rick Warren. I haven’t looked at it much, but every Rick Warren message I have heard has a lot of Bible passages used through out and they are always well structured and delivered in a way that is easy to receive and comprehend.  He’s a great communicator!

A recent devotion was entitled, “How Can I Overcome Discouragement?”  It was based on the verse Nehemiah 4:10.  You can find it on Rick’s Purpose Driven site, here.  Rick provides 4 action items that we can do or practice to overcome discouragement.  I was asked if I liked the devotion?  I said that I did like it and that I thought it was all good advice, but I was curious if most of the devotions were of this nature, and I was told that they were.  I said, yea, I think this devotion was good advice and very practical, but that if this was what I heard every day, or every week as a church sermon, it would drive me inward to myself.  I say this because it was all commands that I should follow.  Even the “Talk About It” section was questions to guide me towards what I should do.  None of the devotion talked about what God is doing in me and through me and for me during my times of discouragement.  I was told that every message doesn’t need to say, “Jesus died for you,” and that to do such would be only giving spiritual milk and not solid food!

I disagree.  I think God’s actions to save and help lead us through this life go way beyond Christ’s work of salvation.  The Trinity’s work to not only justify us (declare us holy) but sanctify us (make us holy) involve law proclamations and Gospel proclamations.  I think what Rick called us to do in the devotion was all good, sound advice and he was drawing the implications from Scripture!  So Amen.  But it was only commands and demands put upon myself. If that’s all I hear everyday from pastors and teachers preaching God’s Word, that would be all I’d be trained to hear in my personal studies of God’s Word.  This would lead to a state of despair when I constantly fall short of those commands, or it would lead to a state of self-righteousness in which I think I am DOING it, and doing it well without God, because nothing about God’s work in me was ever mentioned, not once.

To demonstrate what I would add to Rick’s devotion, I decided to keep his devotion exactly as it was given, but add Gospel proclamations (statements of God’s work in the situation to lead us through this life to him as he is transforming us into the image and likeness of his son, our Lord, Jesus Christ).

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Here is Rick’s devotion and I have put in bold all the times we are the subject and all the actions we are called to do in the devotion are put in bold with itallics:

“How Can I Overcome Discouragement?”
By Rick Warren (With emphasis added)

“Then the people of Judah said, ‘The work crews are worn out, and there is too much rubble. We can’t continue to rebuild the wall.’” (Nehemiah 4:10 GWT)

Discouragement is curable. Whenever I get discouraged, I head straight to Nehemiah. This great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement.

First, you get fatigued. You simply get tired as the laborers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We’re human beings, and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you’re discouraged, it may be you don’t have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.

Second, you get frustrated. Nehemiah says there was rubble all around, so much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your life? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the trash starts piling up?

If you don’t clean it out periodically, it’s going to stop your progress. You can’t avoid it, so you need to learn to recognize it and dispose of it quickly so you don’t lose focus on your original intention.

Third, you think you’ve failed. Nehemiah’s people were unable to finish their task as quickly as originally planned and, as a result, their confidence collapsed. They were thinking, “We were stupid to think we could ever rebuild this wall.”

But you know what I do when I don’t reach a goal on time? I just set a new goal. I don’t give up. Everybody fails. Everybody does foolish things. So the issue is not that you failed; it’s how you respond to your failure.

Do you give in to self-pity? Do you start blaming other people? Do you start complaining that it’s impossible? Or, do you refocus on God’s intentions and start moving again?

Finally, when you give in to fear, you get discouraged. Nehemiah 4 suggests the people most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. If you’re going to control the negative thoughts in your life, you’ve got to get away from negative people as much as you can.

Maybe you’re discouraged because of fear. You’re dealing with fears like, “I can’t handle this. It’s too much responsibility.” Maybe it’s the fear that you don’t deserve it or the fear of criticism. Fear will destroy your life if you let it. But you can choose to resist the discouragement. Say, “God, help me get my eyes off the problem and the circumstance and keep my eyes on you.” [This statement is simply a law, telling you what you are supposed to SAY!]

Talk It Over

  • Rubble is the trivial things that waste your time and energy and prevent you from accomplishing what God has called you to do. What is the rubble in your life?
  • How can you reduce negativity in your life that is keeping you discouraged?
  • On what abandoned goal do you need to refocus so that you can accomplish something God has called you to do? 

When you look through this devotion, the only two times that God is the subject is when he is calling you to do something. Otherwise, all the action is inner focused!  It’s turned towards you and what you need to do.  However, God’s relationship is two ways.  Yes, God calls us to action, but Scripture shows that we always fall short of those actions and that brings condemnation upon us.  Therefore, God acts to save us and through our lives he works to make us more like him and he blesses us to be  a blessing to others.

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Here is Rick’s devotion with my additions.  I added God’s work in the situation, not just what God calls us to do, but how he acts in our lives.  I think by adding these additions, I am not watering down the message, and I am not somehow turning solid food into some sort of liquid mash that would be called giving spiritual milk.  What I have done from my understanding of Scripture is delivered the Gospel.  I have shown God’s actions to save us and sanctify us (bring us through this life into the next as he works in our lives to make us holy).  Therefore, I see what I have done is take a devotion that was all law and make it a proper balance of law and gospel.  Again, I haven’t changed any of Rick’s words.  They are all still present.  I have added emphasis on God’s actions this time, now that they are present.

“How Can I Overcome Discouragement [And How Does God Provide Encouragement in my Discouragement]?” By Rick Warren and Andy Wrasman

“Then the people of Judah said, ‘The work crews are worn out, and there is too much rubble. We can’t continue to rebuild the wall.’” (Nehemiah 4:10 GWT)

Discouragement is curable. Whenever I get discouraged, I head straight to Nehemiah. This great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement.

First, you get fatigued. You simply get tired as the laborers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We’re human beings, and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you’re discouraged, it may be you don’t have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.

Sometimes you might feel guilty for taking a break when more work needs to be done, but it’s not God’s desire or plan for any of us to work ourselves to death.  This is seen most evidently through God’s design of creation, by taking six days to create all things, and a seventh day to rest.  We learn that God took six days to create to serve as a pattern of work for us.  Exodus 20:9-11 clearly shows this for us, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God ; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day ; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”  God even built in special days of rest into each year as well as an entire year’s worth of rest every seventy years.  All of these times or rest given by God, served as signs of encouragement to the Israelites who were the only nation at the time to have days of rest to see that when they stopped working, God still provided and had everything under control.  [Rest is a gift!]

Second, you get frustrated. Nehemiah says there was rubble all around, so much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your life? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the trash starts piling up?

If you don’t clean it out periodically, it’s going to stop your progress. You can’t avoid it, so you need to learn to recognize it and dispose of it quickly so you don’t lose focus on your original intention.

God as a loving Father helps in this process.  As Jesus said in John 15:1-2, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away ; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”  As  good gardener, God is taking care of us and desires that we will bear much fruit, so he is actively cutting out the parts of our lives that restrict us from growing.  Will we be patient and work with God through this process?  Or will get frustrated and give up when we see all the rubble in our lives?  [Since this is sanctification and we work with God in this process, I tie in our role in this process]

Third, you think you’ve failed. Nehemiah’s people were unable to finish their task as quickly as originally planned and, as a result, their confidence collapsed. They were thinking, “We were stupid to think we could ever rebuild this wall.”

But you know what I do when I don’t reach a goal on time? I just set a new goal. I don’t give up. Everybody fails. Everybody does foolish things. So the issue is not that you failed; it’s how you respond to your failure.

Do you give in to self-pity? Do you start blaming other people? Do you start complaining that it’s impossible? Or, do you refocus on God’s intentions and start moving again?

To help you in this process, remember that this life is not a sprint, but a marathon that demands endurance and perseverance.  The author of the book of Hebrews reminds us of this when he calls us to remember the men and women of the faith who have gone before us, suffering and stumbling along the way.  Despite their failures chasing after God, they never tossed in the towel of faith and God was faithful, bringing them to heavenly glory.  By the witness of God’s faithfulness in the lives of the saints before us, we are told, “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  [I added this whole paragraph and you can see that there is plenty of Law I spoke here too]

Finally, when you give in to fear, you get discouraged. Nehemiah 4 suggests the people most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. If you’re going to control the negative thoughts in your life, you’ve got to get away from negative people as much as you can.

Maybe you’re discouraged because of fear. You’re dealing with fears like, “I can’t handle this. It’s too much responsibility.” Maybe it’s the fear that you don’t deserve it or the fear of criticism. Fear will destroy your life if you let it. But you can choose to resist the discouragement. Say, “God, help me get my eyes off the problem and the circumstance and keep my eyes on you.”  But even when we do fear the things of this world and we stray from the path of God, Jesus as our good shepherd never leaves our side.  He is always calling to us and leading us through the valley of death that we keep walking ourselves into. 

Negativity drowns out our Savior’s words of comfort.  Clinging to the positivity of God’s promises points us to depths of which Christ humbled himself to bring us to himself through becoming human and suffering and dying though he is God and did not deserve any such pain or temptation, we are encouraged to know that there is no reason to fear that he won’t continue to work to bring his goals for us to completion [we are passive here].

Talk It Over

  • Rubble is the trivial things that waste your time and energy and prevent you from accomplishing what God has called you to do. What is the rubble in your life?  How is God helping you remove this rubble?
  • How can you reduce negativity in your life that is keeping you discouraged?  What has God given that is positively moving you closer to the goals he has for you?
  • On what abandoned goal do you need to refocus so that you can accomplish something God has called you to do?  How has God equipped you for meeting this goal, or how has God grown you and prepared you to meet this goal since the time you abandoned it?

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So there you go.  Those were my additions.  You can see I added more law, but I add Gospel statements that were never present.  Compare Rick’s devotion to the one that I added Gospel statements too.  Rick’s devotion had no statements were God was acting besides to call us to do something.  The one with my additions shows God’s active involvement in our discouragement and how he empowers us to overcome the hurdles, equips us to accomplish what we are being called to, how it might take time, but God is faithful, how the fruit may not come instantly, as God is caring for us as a Father, and how God encourages us through the Gospel and example of the life of Christ.

Do you think I watered down the message?  Do you think I took away from the message by mentioning God’s works and actions?  Do you think mine provides encouragement that wasn’t in the first devotion?  Do you feel more able to meet the commands of the first devotion or less able?  Do you now feel as if you don’t have to do any work after reading mine?  Do you think I gave you spiritual milk by telling you what God has done for you and is still doing in your and through you in your times of discouragement?

I also want you to think about Joseph in the Bible?  When he was sold into slavery and then later imprisoned innocently, do you think he was discouraged?  Do you think he would need to be told – bro, just clean out the rubble?  Bro, what are you not doing that God has called you to?  Hey bro, how can you reduce the negativity in your life?   Hey bro, I think you are just being afraid and that ‘s why you are discouraged. Joseph needed to be encouraged by the promises of God!  If someone is in a situation like that, just being told a bunch of law wouldn’t help them get closer to God or know that he cared.  They would still feel trapped in slavery or their prison cell.  We have to proclaim both Law and Gospel.  We need both.  We need to be told what God desires of us, and the Gospel, the sweet news of salvation and God’s blessings that we don’t deserve, energizes us to do good works (God’s work).

Give me your feedback on this one. I’d love to hear it!  Thanks.  Peace in Christ, Andy Wrasman.

What is Law and Gospel?

What is Law and Gospel?
In this blog post, I follow the order and outline of the chapter, “Law and Gospel” found in Called to Believe: A Brief Introduction to Christian Doctrine, published by Concordia Publishing House and edited by Steven P. Mueller. 

Maintaining a proper distinction between God’s Law and God’s Gospel is of utmost importance.  This proper distinction is maintained throughout all of Lutheran systematic theology and is at its heart connected to the doctrine of justification.  All of God’s word comes to us in one of these two ways, Law or Gospel.  Anytime, any passage of scripture is read, one should ask the questions, what is the law in this passage and what is the Gospel.

To define God’s Law, it is that which God commands and demands of us.   Exodus 20 with the issuance of the Ten Commandments immediately springs to mind when asking what does God commands of us.  In Luke 10:27, Jesus boiled the Law down to two essential commands, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”  The Lord speaks the Law in even briefer terms in Leviticus 19:2 by saying, “Be Holy, because, I the Lord your God, am holy.”  James explains that if keep all of God’s law but stumble in just one area of the Law we are guilty of breaking all of God’s Law (James 2:10).  Throughout scripture, it is taught that if we obey God’s Law blessings will follow, but if we break God’s Law curses will follow.  From an honest look at what is demanded of us by God’s Law, it is evident that we have all broken it and the result of falling short of God’s Law is death, spiritual, physical, and eternal!

To define the Gospel, it is the work of God alone to save mankind.  The Gospel is not exhortation, it is declaration.  The Gospel is a gift which is freely given to us with no strings attached.  If there is any demand put upon us in our salvation, then it is no longer the Gospel being taught and shared.

Similarities and Differences

God’s Law and the Gospel are as different as night and day.  The Law brings death for all who break it.  The Gospel brings life.  The Law brings despair because who can fulfill God’s righteous requirements.  The Gospel on the other hand brings hope for all who receive it.  The Law judges and condemns us.  The Gospel sets us free!  The Law brings wrath and destruction upon sinners.  The Gospel brings love and restores the relationship of fallen mankind with the holy Lord.  The Law demands us to fulfill all God of commands.  The Gospel promises us life at Christ’s expense.

Despite being exact polar opposites in what they do and proclaim, the Law and Gospel share similarities.  Since they have both come from God, they are both good and holy (Romans 7:12).  Some make the error of saying that the Law is evil because it brings death to mankind, but that is a complete and utter lie.  Both of these apply to all people.  God’s Law is a standard placed upon all people, just as God’s Gospel is a gift given to all people in that Christ was an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:19 and 1 John 2:2).  It must also be said that God speaks both of these out of love.  He does not speak the Law out of hatred to us.  The Law is spoken out of love to us for our good that we might see our sinfulness and turn to him for our salvation.

3-D Law                 

When we read through the Bible we will see many different commands given.  Some of these were given to certain people in a certain time in history.  Should certain commands like animal sacrifices or laws about stoning certain sinners still apply to us today?  To fully understand how to interpret and apply all the laws present in scripture, a person must know and understand the three dimensions, or types of the law.  They are the civil-political dimension, ceremonial dimension, and moral dimension.

Civil-political law – These laws are the laws which are given to governments by God.  Romans 13:1-5 clearly teaches that all authority on earth has been given by God and we should thus obey the laws of the governments.  However, we should disobey these laws if the government’s laws directly contradict God’s moral law.  Does this mean that I should obey the laws of the Chinese government if I am in America?  No, but if I am in China I should obey the Chinese laws regardless of what country I am from.

Some of the laws we read in the Bible are laws given to the nation of Israel under the theocracy of God.  Since this nation no longer exists, we do not need to obey and follow these laws anymore today.  An example of this is the command to put to death homosexuals (Leviticus 18:22, 20:12).  This is no longer the law in America, where I live, so I shouldn’t put homosexuals to death, and if I did, I would actually be breaking my country’s laws, and thus breaking God’s law!

Ceremonial law – These laws mostly centered on the Jewish tabernacle, later to be replaced by Solomon’s temple.  These laws dealt with the manner of sacrifices, Sabbath observance, Jewish festivals, purity and cleanliness, and temple practices and activities.  What’s important to remember about these laws is that they pointed to Jesus Christ.  Read Leviticus 16 and the Day of Atonement for a great example of how these laws foreshadowed Christ.  Other verses that explain the purpose of these laws are Colossians 2:16-17, Acts 10:9-16, John 1:14, Hebrews 8:13, and John 2:12-22.  When we read Scripture we need to decipher if the commands we are reading are ceremonial.  Some ceremonial laws can still be of benefit to observe today, but some of the laws, such as the ones dealing with animal sacrifices should certainly not be practiced because Christ was the atoning sacrifice for sin once and for all.

Moral law – God’s moral law might best be summarized with the Ten Commandments, but even then questions arise about the manner and method of what is required with observing the Sabbath and keeping it holy in light of Christ.  Jesus’ two essential laws “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” could serve as good summaries of the moral law.  This dimension, or type, of the law applies to all people throughout all time!

3 Uses of the Law

There are also three uses of the law, or functions of the law.  These can be considered as ways in which the dimensions of the law can be applied to our lives.  The three uses of the Law are as a curb, as a mirror, and as a rule.

1st use – Curb – Think of a street curb.  The purpose of a street curb is to prevent accidents and to keep cars on the correct path.  Likewise, God’s law functioning as a curb prevents and restricts evil in the world.  This use of the Law is given and applied to all people, whether they know it or not.  The laws of authorities and governments function as a curb by rewarding law-bearers and punishing law-breakers.  In addition to these laws, God has written his law upon the hearts of men as another way of curbing the external sinful actions of mankind.

2nd use – Mirror – When you look into a mirror, you must see your reflection, unless you are a vampire or you are on the wrong-side of a two-way mirror.  God’s law functioning as a mirror shows us our sin.  When we gaze into God’s perfect Law, we see our reflection – we’ve fallen short of God’s command and we deserve eternal punishment.  The second use of the law is necessary for us to know our need of a savior.  A good dose of the Law in this function leaves us in despair, but it is exactly what we need to drive us running to the cross of Calvary for our salvation.  This use of the law is for Christians and non-Christians alike.  Non-Christians need to hear that they are sinful before a just and holy God in order to come to repentance and Christians need to daily be reminded of their sinfulness, unless we become self-righteous or forget our utter dependence upon God for our salvation.

3rd use – Rule – Rule is the term commonly used to describe the 3rd use of the Law.  When the term rule is used, picture a ruler which gives a standard of measurement.  God’s Law likewise gives us a standard for which we can measure ourselves.  Sometimes, instead of using the word rule to describe this function, the word guide is employed.  Once a person has come to salvation, the Law no longer serves as an instrument to bring guilt and repentance, but as a guide for how God would have us live our lives.  This function of the Law only applies to Christians who are living under God’s grace, who follow the path the Lord has set before those who believe to follow in this life.  Interestingly enough, as soon as one starts to follow God’s Law – almost instantly, the 3rd use of the Law, the Rule, converts back into the 2nd use of the Law, the Mirror; again our sinfulness is made clear to us and we are again clinging to the Gospel.

The Good News

Gospel means good news.  After being dealt a crushing blow by the law which shows our sinfulness, we are in desperate need of a savior.  The Gospel shows us our savior – Jesus Christ.  The good news is that the condemnation which we deserve for breaking God’s Law has already been paid in full by Christ.  Christ who was sinless became sin and took the full wrath of God upon himself and suffered hell on the cross and died.  However, because of his faithfulness in fulfilling the Law and serving as a substitute for us to receive the punishment we deserve, God the Father had Christ raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit!

This entire process has been called the “Great Exchange.”  Our sins have been credited to Christ.  Christ’s righteousness has been credited to us.  This exchange occurs through faith in this good news!

John 3:16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Philippians 2:5-11 “Christ Jesus: Who, being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very natureof a servant,  being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Galatians 1:3-4 “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 2:4-9 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Distortion and Confusion Leads to Danger!

Properly administering Law and Gospel can be very difficult.  Sometimes it can become easy to distort Law and Gospel from their proper biblical sense and thus it becomes easier to apply these two concepts to our lives, but if we do so we are in grave danger of losing the Christian faith.  The following are possible examples of how Law and Gospel can be distorted or confused:

  1. Weaken the Law.  If we weaken the Law we turn God’s Law into a commandment that we can fulfill.  This is utterly wrong because it is impossible for us to live up to God’s perfect and holy standard.  If a person hears again and again a message that says that they can “do it” then he or she will literally start to think that they can.  Weakening the Law leads to self-righteousness in which one no longer needs Christ because righteousness has already been achieved by a person who thinks he has fulfilled the Law.  Or, in this weakened state of the Law, a person thinks the Law can be fulfilled by one’s own merit and that person will strive for perfection but will fall short of it again and again.
  2. Hear only Law.  If a person hears only the Law, that person is left in utter defeat because he or she will always fall short.  It’s Mission: Impossible.   It can’t be done.  However, many people go to church and only hear the Law.  The messages given are all Law-centered and speak only of what the Christian should be doing.  This might be ok for a while if the hearers do know the Gospel, but over a period of time, this will lead to guilt and depression and sense of inadequacy.  Often times, if the Law is only preached, then the Law is being viewed in its weakened state because it is being viewed as an obtainable standard, when it is not.
  3. Mixing Law and Gospel.  The Gospel is God’s work alone to save mankind.  However, sometimes there is the tendency to insert our work or a level of performance into the Gospel.  An example of this might be to say that if a person truly believes in God they wouldn’t sin in certain areas or to certain degrees.  Another example of doing this is setting a prerequisite to coming to faith.  I once heard a preacher say that you had to get the filth out of your life to come to God in a message that was directed towards non-Christians.  This of course is completely false.  If we had to get the filth out of our life to become Christians, no one would be a Christian.  Anytime the Law and the Gospel are mingled, salvation is in doubt because our works our involved and not just God’s.
  4. Hear only Gospel.  If a person hears only the Gospel, this can lead people to think they can do anything they want, because God loves them and will always forgive them.  It might even lead them to think that they can believe anything they want and worship anything they want because they’ll always be forgiven.  While, it’s true that God always forgives us on account of Christ’s work, but if our sin is left unchecked by only hearing the Gospel, our sin could grow to the point that we love our sin so much that we reject faith in God and replace him with the sin that we love so much.

S.O.S.

Both the Law and Gospel are needed.

Law S.O.S.Shows our sin.

Gospel S.O.S.Shows our Savior.

We need both of these.  Without the Law to show us our sin, we don’t need to know our savior.  Without the Gospel to show us our savior, we would constantly strive for the perfection that God’s Law demands of us and always fall short, or we would just give up and live in guilt until facing our coming judgment.  The two complement each other and go hand in hand.  Because of this Christians need to hear both Law and Gospel.  However, sometimes we need to hear one and not the other.  If a person feels the weight of his or her sin and is in a state of confession, dosing on more Law would be utterly wrong.  This person desperately needs to hear the good news of the Gospel.  If a person is unrepentant, sinning away and has no sorrow or contrition, then that person needs to hear the Law.

Anytime we read the Bible, we need to ask ourselves “What is the Law in this passage?” and “What is the Gospel in this passage?”  If we find that a passage only has Law, we should seek to find the Gospel in related passages, and conversely if a passage only contains Gospel we need to find Law in related passages.

We should always listen to every sermon carefully and recognize how the Law is used in it and if the Gospel is free of the Law.  If you ever come away from a church gathering, feeling guilty and questioning your salvation, check to see if the message preached only contained Law, and if so, run to the Bible and read clear Gospel proclamations!

Above all remember that out of love for us, God shows us our sin and out of that same love he graciously shows us our savior.