Sunday, January 30, 2011
Law and Gospel - Thesis 1
The doctrinal contents of all Holy Scripture, both of the Old and the New Testament, consist of two doctrines that differ fundamentally from each other. These two doctrines are Law and Gospel.
In his first thesis Walther covers six differences between law and gospel to help the Christian and Christian teachers identify the difference when they read the scripture.
1. They differ as to how they were revealed to humans.
2. They differ regarding their contents.
3. The differ regarding the promises held out by each doctrine.
4. They differ regarding their threats. (Gospel has no threats whatsoever - only words for consolation.)
5. They differ regarding the function and the effect of either doctrine.
6. They differ regarding the persons to whom each of them is to be preached.
This doctrine is important not to skip over in our Christian Churches. As Walther states:
...you can gather how foolish it is-in fact, how terribly deceived so many people obviously are - when they ridicule pure doctrine and say to us, "Enough already with your 'Pure doctrine, pure doctrine'! That can lead only to dead orthodoxy. Focus on pure living instead. That way you will plant the seeds of righteous Christianity." That would be like saying to a farmer, "Stop fretting about good seed! Be concerned about good fruit instead."
So how does pure doctrine of law and gospel together lead to true Christian experience and understanding?
"The Law tells us what to do and charges us with not having done it, no matter how holy we are. Thus the Law makes us uncertain; it chases us about and thus makes us thirsty. Now when Christ invites those who thirst, He means those who have been crushed under the hammer blows of the Law. These persons Christ invites directly to come to Him; of course, indirectly he invites all people. A person who is thirsting like this only needs to drink-and receive the consolation of the Gospel. When a person is really thirsty and is handed even a small glass of water, how greatly refreshed he feels! But when a person is not thirsty, you can hand him one glass of water after another - it will do him no good; it will not refresh him."