LAW AND GOSPEL
Understanding how to distinguish Law and Gospel provides wonderful insight for understanding all of Holy Scripture correctly. In fact, without this knowledge Scripture is and remains a sealed book.
Walther in this rather short lecture on Thesis IV explains that the Bible is indeed a book of great and many contradictions unless you are able to distinguish between its two great doctrines of Law and Gospel.
In fact, all of Scripture seems to be full of contradictions, worse than the Qur’an of the Turks. Here Scripture pronounces you blessed; there it condemns you. When the rich young ruler asked the Lord, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?” the Lord replied, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” When the jailer at Philippi addressed the same question to Paul and Silas, he received this answer:” Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your household will be saved.” P.69
The Key to Scripture:
“Do not think that the Old Testament reveals a wrathful and the New Testament a gracious God, or that the Old Testament teaches salvation by a person’s own works and the New Testament salvation by faith. No. We find both teachings in the Old as well as in the New Testament. But the moment we understand how to distinguish between Law and Gospel, it is as if the sun were rising upon the Scriptures, and we behold all the contents of the Scriptures in the most beautiful harmony. We see that the Law was not revealed to us to put a notion into our heads that we could become righteous by it, but to teach us that we are completely unable to fulfill the Law. Then we will know what a sweet message – what a glorious doctrine – the Gospel is and will receive it with exuberant joy. P.70