Thesis Thursday

Moving on to the 11th lecture, and


Thesis VII

In the third place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Gospel is preached first and then the Law; sanctification first and then justification; faith first and then repentance; good works first and then grace.

The character of the Old Testament is chiefly legalistic although the Gospel is proclaimed also in that part of the Bible; the character of the New Testament is chiefly evangelical, although Law portions are not lacking in it. The solemn revelation of the Law took place in the Old Testament, that of the Gospel in the New Testament. The Gospel was indeed available as far back as the days of Paradise, but its solemn inauguration had not yet taken place. The full revelation of the Law occurred on Sinai amid thunder and lightning and during an earthquake. It seemed as if the end of the world had come. In the New Testament era, at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, there also appeared fire, but it did not consume anything. Tongues of fire were seen on the heads of the apostles, but their hair was not singed. A mighty wind came roaring out of the sky, but it destroyed nothing; not a thing was moved out of its place. The purpose of the phenomena was to indicate that at that moment an entirely different, a comforting, revelation was about to be made.

Let us pass on to the apostolic epistles, especially to that addressed to the Romans, which contains the Christian doctrine in its entirety. What do we find in the first three chapters? The sharpest preaching of the Law. This is followed, towards the end of the third chapter and in chapters 4 and 5, by the doctrine of justification — nothing but that. Beginning at chapter 6, the apostle treats of nothing else than sanctification. Here we have a true pattern of the correct sequence: first the Law, threatening men with the wrath of God. This is followed by an instruction regarding the things we are to do after we have become new men. The prophets, too, when they wished to convert people, began by preaching the Law to them. When the chastisings of the Law had taken effect, they comforted the poor sinners. As to the apostles, no sooner had their hearers shown that they were alarmed than they seemed to know nothing else to do for them than to comfort them and pronounce absolution to them. Not until that had been done, would they say to their people: “Now you must show your gratitude toward God.” They did not issue orders; they did not threaten when their orders were disregarded, but they pleaded and besought their hearers by the mercy of God to act like Christians.

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This entry was posted in Christian life, Compare and Confess, Education, Gospel, Law/Gospel Distinction, Legalism, Liberty, Lutheranism, Protestant preaching, Protestant slogans, Quotes, Reformed Confessionalism, The Protestant Reformation, Thesis Thursday. Bookmark the permalink.

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