Thesis XI Of Walther’s Law and Gospel In Laymen’s Terms
If a person finds himself broken by the sting of sin and regretful in their soul, they are obviously ready to here the unconditional Gospel. However, what can often happen is that pastors and individuals will withhold the Gospel until the struggling individual can show that they are really, really, really, really sorry. In other words the Gospel is withheld until the person can prove and validate that they are genuinely sorry. Let’s look at an example and see how this works.
Meet Sam. Sam, has been made contrite by the Law. The Law has done its work on him. He is alarmed over his sin and is in a state of sorrow knowing that his own righteousness will not stand in the presence of a Holy God. At this point Sam obviously needs to hear the Gospel. Unfortunately what can happen is that a pastor or another parishioner will ask Sam to validate the worthiness of his contrition. They may say, “Sam if you really love God you should be really sorry for these sins. So Sam, do you really love God. Are you really sorry for these sins?” Do you see what just happened here? They just perverted Law and Gospel with Sam! One’s love for God does not bring about contrition for sin; the Law brings about contrition. Furthermore, using the term “do you really love God” is is adding Law upon Law. If the poor lad isn’t already crushed from the Law, he is now really crushed because he is told to validate his contrition by turning inward and proving his contrition from his love towards God. Good luck with this Sam! Poor Sam will now have to prove that his contrition is genuine before he hears the Gospel.
The problem with this is three fold. 1) The Holy Spirit through the Law brings about contrition as a gift. We can’t make ourselves sorry for sin. 2) Our sinful nature does not love God. 3) “Our love for God” is not our foundation. Rather the foundation for Christianity is “God’s Love for us” in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. “God’s Love for us” does not bring about terror of God but comfort, peace and assurance.
My friends, the Law breaks us and drives us to terror. The Gospel on the other hand brings about absolution, forgiveness, faith and rest. Once we hear the Gospel we are then free to love God as a free response.
Law and Gospel can be found at CPH here. It is also available on Kindle (be sure to get the one published in 2010).
This edition of the classic work of The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel will make this powerful resource available in a format for all readers of the Bible. Offering a fresh look of the older translation, it will provide comprehensive notes and annotations to aid reader’s understanding bringing to life the power and excitement of the original German lectures. This new unabridged edition restores Walther’s witty, staccato fire, including text omitted in prior English versions. Read Walther’s lectures like no one has since he originally spoke them.