LAW, GOSPEL & THE MEANS OF GRACE
I. Thesis III (WPD 42)
distinguishing the Law and the Gospel is the most difficult and the highest art
of Christians in general and of theologians in particular.
It is taught only by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience.
1. Doctrine of L & G can be learned with aid of Holy Spirit.
2. Child can learn this.
3. Catechism for children.
a. 1st part: 10 Commandments: “to do’s”
b. 2nd part: Creed: makes no demands; need only to believe to be saved.
4. Compare to other doctrines:
a. e.g. doctrine of communication of attributes to human nature of Christ.
b. Exceed child’s grasp.
5. Practical application of doctrine and use.
a. Presents difficulties not surmountable by reasonable reflections.
b. Spirit must teach this “in the school of experience.”
B. To minister:
1. A difficult and high art in so far as he is a Christian.
2. Ps 51:10,11.
a. David had received absolution already.
b. Still in misery – not cheerful.
c. Ps 6:6.
d. Lacked practical ability to apply his knowledge.
3. Characteristic of Christians to regard Scriptures as true, infallible Word of God.
a. Yet when need comfort, find none.
b. They cry out for mercy.
c. David’s continued misfortunes.
(1) Not because not forgiven.
(2) God acted in this only prompted by His love and mercy.
4. Lk 5:8
a. Peter recognized his Maker, the Almighty.
b. Rather than thanking Him, seized with fear.
c. Expected nothing but God’s wrath.
d. Incapable of distinguishing L & G.
5. 1Jn 3:19,20
a. When heart not condemning us, easy to distinguish L & G.
b. Other times, can not silence accusing voice within.
c. After learning to distinguish, can join with John with this passage.
d. We will always be no more than beginners in this art.
e. “Like to hostile forces, Law and Gospel sometimes clash with each other in a person’s conscience”. (WPD 47)
C. Walther then cites various Luther writings (WPD 46)
1. Luther notes that some in their “last agony” (WPD 48) seize on passages thinking them to be Gospel, e.g.:
a. Mt 19:17.
b. Mt 7:21.
2. Good to learn this art while young,
D. When called to do what is right in public:
1. Your relation to God is not under review.
2. Must act in accordance with Law.
3. But not as slave, but as child (WPD 49)
4. So ends 6th lecture.
II. Examples showing difficulty of this art (WPD 50).
A. Better gifted, with greater knowledge, the more easily tempted to self-esteem and self-reliance.
B. Therefore, never achieves proper distinction.
1. Chrysostom (=“the Golden-mouthed”)
2. Andrew Osiander
a. Early on, excellent; e.g. draft of “sketch” for AC
b. Later, proud of his gifts and knowledge.
c. Commingled L & G.
3. Often times, ministers poorest intellectually, are best preachers.
4. Cordatus (simple person and ML’s friend) excellent at distinction.
5. Melanchthon, “Precepter of All Germany”, began to err re: free will.
III. Re: “theologians as such” (WPD 51)
A. Distinction highest and most difficult art.
B. 2Ti 2:15.
C. Lk 12:42-44.
1. The “achievement” is apportioning to each his due portion.
2. Must be done at proper time.
D. 2Co 2:16c & 3:4-6
1. “letter”: Law.
2. “Spirit”: Gospel.
3. L & G must be preached alongside each other.
4. God must bestow the ability.
5. Can not have a heart with spirit of the world in place.
6. Must first be a believer.
1. Must be able to distinguish between a hypocrite and a Christian.
2. Must understand how to accurately depict inward condition of every hearer.
3. Mere objective presentations of doctrines insufficient.
4. Must carefully state true pictures of state of:
a. Pagans: they have delights, etc.
b. Christians: far happier yet with more tribulation.
5. Must not say anything that may be misunderstood.
6. Faces greater difficulty ministering to individuals.
7. Must treat any person as a Christian when appears to be one, and vice versa.
8. Should recognize one who is orthodox and possesses the dead faith of the intellect only.
9. Encounters greatest difficulty in dealing with true Christians per their particular spiritual condition:
a. Weak faith – strong faith.
b. Cheerful – sorrowful
c. Sluggish – zealous.
10. Must understand temperaments.
a. Sadness may not be contrition.
b. Always cheerful but not a believer.
11. “Not man, but God, makes theologians”. (WPD 58)