Thursday, July 22, 2010


Speaking of “buzz words,” one of the most well known among Lutherans is the term “Law and Gospel.” Our interpretation of scripture always includes this foundational concept. When Lutherans read scripture, we are reminded to look for both the law and the gospel in the text we are reading.

One of the basic understandings of this concept is that the law convicts us of our mortality and our brokenness. It is with that understanding that we are driven to the cross. The gospel reveals the love of God for us and our redemption through Jesus Christ, because of the cross and the resurrection.

When we think about the term “law,” we usually connect it with the Old, or Hebrew, Testament. When we think about the term “gospel,” we usually connect it with the New, or Christian, Testament. However, the law can be found throughout the entire Bible. The gospel can also be found throughout all of scripture.

In the beginning, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. When God removed from the Garden of Eden, we appropriately recognize law for the consequences of their actions. However, we don’t often “hear” the gospel when God clothed them. The same goes for their son, Cain, when God placed a mark on him so that no one would kill him. David lost the son born of Bathsheba because of his adultery. Furthermore, civil war erupted in the years following. Yet, from that relationship, Solomon was born and became the most powerful king in the history of Israel.

All of the gospels spent much of their time telling the story of Jesus’ passion and resurrection. It is the story of the gospel, or good news of the victory of Jesus. Yet, read the Sermon on the Mount and find the new laws that Jesus was prescribing as he redefined them, making some more flexible and others more strict. Remember the story of the rich man? Remember how he could not sell all that he had and follow Jesus? This is another example of the law within the gospel.

We need both law and gospel. We always need to be reminded of who we are and whose we are. We need to be reminded that we are broken, sinful, and imperfect with shortcomings and character defects.

It is through the law and the gospel that we have a deeper understanding of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

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