Law, gospel and preaching

Good conversation taking place on the Open Discussion page at the moment, prompted by Aidan’s observations on the law/gospel distinction and whether it leads to formulaic preaching of cheap grace. As Aidan put it:

I’m an LCMS member myself, and it seems like most of the sermons I hear follow a predictable formula:

1. Background
2. A particular sin exposed (on occasion)
3. But don’t worry, Jesus is here!
4. Lord’s Supper, Baptism, Absolution.

My problem is that this doesn’t seem to fit at all with the presentation of truth in the Scriptures, especially the New Testament. Paul was able to preach on sanctification, election, glorification, incarnation, redemption, regeneration, etc. and STILL say that he resolved to know nothing except “Christ and Him crucified”.

So my question is: how? How can a preacher (or any conscientious Christian for that matter) maintain some kind of balance between “This is what God has said” and “Christ is the end of the law”? A good deal of Lutheran preaching looks an awful lot like cheap grace and antinomianism to me. For all of my doctrinal disagreements with them I’d much rather have Spurgeon, Piper, McArthur, or any other faithful Calvinist as opposed to the milk-water teaching that seems to so dominate my denomination. So how can we get the best of both worlds?

Further contributions to that discussion are welcome – feel free to add them to the existing thread or in the comments to this post.

This entry was posted in Theology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Law, gospel and preaching

  1. Pingback: Confessing Evangelical » Free sheep under the true Shepherd

  2. allan says:

    We cannot get the best from both words. One will be greater than the other

  3. Theodore A. Jones says:

    “It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13. The fact you will never hear explained by contemporary preaching is that the law has been changed after Jesus’ crucifixion. A word was added to the law.

  4. Rick Ritchie says:

    According to Galatians 3:19, the Law was itself the added word. The promise came before the Law was given.

    Also, Romans 2:13 describes an empty set. Romans is a sustained argument. Paul’s says what you quoted to show that Jews and Gentiles are equally under the Law. If the Jews imagined they had it better just because they had the Law, they were wrong. They were privileged to be hearers of the Law (unlike the Gentiles). But if they didn’t keep the Law, this did them no good. And in fact, they did not keep the Law, for as Paul goes on to say, “There is no one righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). According to the route of obeying the Law, nobody qualifies. In chapter two, the way he sets it up, it’s hard to imagine someone won’t qualify. But he blocks that off clearly. So will any be justified? Yes. By a righteousness “apart from the Law” (Romans 3:21). Now God is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26). Given the way Paul speaks in Galatians, it is best not to call this an added word, since this promise was made to Abraham before the Law was given.

  5. Theodore A. Jones says:

    The emptiness is between your ears. “For the priesthood being changed, it became necessary to make a change of the law also.” Heb. 7:12 Since not one jot or tittle was to be removed from the law law the only way to change it is by adding to it. “The law was added so that the trespass (of Jesus crucifixion, the sin of murder caused by bloodshed) might increase (as a sin).” Rom. 5:20 By observance of the written code no one is declared righteous. But a law has been added to the law by Jesus’ crucifixion. If one has the faith to obey this law exactly as specified he will be declared righteous by God. The leaven of your salvific is the false assumption that the sin of a man’s murder caused by bloodshed is assumed to be a direct benefit, i.e. an observance of the written code, but it is not. Wanna try again?

  6. John H says:

    Theodore: let’s keep it civil, yes? Yellow card.

  7. Rick Ritchie says:

    I’ve Googled, and apparently Theodore does a lot of drive-by postings, pasting the same comment into lots of blogs. He writes with a concision that might be admirable if he bothered to edit. But with the errors in grammar, it is not clear what a number of his statements mean. For example:

    “The leaven of your salvific is the false assumption that the sin of a man’s murder caused by bloodshed is assumed to be a direct benefit, i.e. an observance of the written code, but it is not.”

    “salvific” is an adjective. I don’t know whether there is a missing noun here it is supposed to modify, or whether this is being used in a substantive sense. I’ll have to assume the latter, but I’m already wondering whether what I really need is a better edited sentence to read.

    Next I’m presented with a false assumption I hold. But I can’t figure out from the words what the assumption entails. Somehow it seems to involve thinking that the sin of murdering Jesus is a direct benefit. Perhaps this means that the problem is I hold to Vicarious Atonement? (If so, he could have said so directly. I’ll plead guilty to that. But I don’t think you’ll get a good argument for or against it out of his verse from Hebrews about a change in priesthood.) But then I see “i.e. a observance of the written code.” I doubt that this means that the murder of Jesus is an observance of the written code. But grammatically that is a possible way to construe it. So maybe a direct benefit is the observance of a written code? Probably not.

    It appears that he thinks that everybody is wrong on all of this. The road is so narrow that he alone has found it. We were reading Isaiah from the Septuagint today, and it spoke of everyone going his own way. The word used for way was “road.” Whether you render it “way” or “road” it was the same as in Matthew 7. While there is some problem with people preferring a broad road to a wide one, there is another problem of people all creating their own roads. If someone is on a road all alone, I doubt he has found the narrow one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s