Last week I took a break (Read: forgot because I was too busy). Let’s hit the 11th lecture, again, continuing with:
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.
Let me illustrate by a few specimens of sermon outlines how you may even by these betray your ignorance of the distinction between Law and Gospel. I shall select very crass examples, as Luther was wont to do; for such examples readily help us to understand the matter under discussion. I love to do as Luther did; for if there is any good that I have achieved, I have learned it from him.
Incorrect Sermon Outlines.
First Subject: The Way of Salvation. It consists of 1) faith; 2) true repentance. A perversion of this kind would constitute you genuine Antinomians and Herrnhuters.
Second Subject: Good Works. We shall see 1) wherein they consist; 2) that they must be performed in faith. In such an outline you would state what good works are, without having spoken of faith. A description of good works requires a statement that they are performed by believers. Otherwise you would have to formulate your judgment on good works from the Law. But that is wrong; for viewed in the light of the Law, any good work even of a Christian, no matter how good it may appear, is damnable in the sight of God.
Third Subject: Concerning Prayer. 1) True Prayer is based on the certainty of our being heard; 2) true prayer consists in faith. According to this outline the first part of your sermon would be entirely wrong.
Fourth Subject: Promises and Threatenings in the Word of God. 1) Promises; 2) threatenings. When I hear these parts of the sermon announced, I say to myself: First the preacher is going to comfort me; then he will proceed to throw rocks at me, causing me to forget everything that he said at the start. No; first you must come down on your hearers with the Law and then bind up their wounds with the divine promises. When a preacher concludes his sermons with threatenings, he has gone far towards making that sermon unproductive.
Fifth Subject: True Christianity. It consists, 1) in Christian living; 2) in true faith; 3) in a blessed death. This outline is simply horrible.
Sixth Subject: What must a person do to become assured of salvation? 1) He must amend his life and become a different man; 2) he must repent of his sins; 3) he must also apprehend Christ by faith. How is it possible to lead a better life when I have not yet reached that stage where I abhor sin and abominate a wicked life? The worst part is Part 3; for there is nothing that gives me greater assurance of being saved than faith.