Hebrews 4:12 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Dear friends in Christ, how many doctrines are put forth in the Scriptures? There are Ten Commandments, six chief parts laid out in the Small Catechism, seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, three articles in the creed, but believe it or not there are only two kinds of teachings in the Bible – Law and Gospel.
The Law of God sets forth the gravest threats of God. The Law is the Hammer of God that breaks spirits (Jeremiah 23:29 Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?) and renders the heart and humbles it, so that we might know the multitude of sins and the wrath of God in regard to sin. The law of God is an imperative, that is, it tells us what to do and not do (thou shalt or thou shalt not…) and even promises life eternal if the Law can be kept on the condition of perfect fulfillment (Jesus says, “Do this and you shall live”). The problem does not lie in the imperative of the law but in the sinful flesh and being able to fulfill the law. Jesus says to His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." The weakness of our sinful flesh becomes ever more apparent in the mirror of the law. Thus doctrine of Law terrifies the sinner, shows the depth of sin and condemns unto death both in this life and the next. If you have ever read the Scriptures and have come across a portion of Scripture that makes you afraid such as John’s words, 1 John 3:15 “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” And you have thought, “I have hated someone, do I not have eternal life in me? If not, what hope is there for me?” Then the Law is doing its work on your heart to show you your sin and your desperate need to be saved, a saving that you cannot do! It is then that the second doctrine of Scripture needs to be applied, read, marked and inwardly digested. Of course, this second doctrine is the blessed, good news of the Gospel. The Gospel teaches that what was impossible for the law on account of our sinful flesh, God provided by sending His Son. The Gospel, shows, that Christ, the very Lamb of God, born under the Law for us, made satisfaction to the judgement of God, by His obedience and suffering on our behalf. This Mediator (Jesus) is set before us in the Gospel as a propitiation by faith in His blood though the remission of sins. Jesus says, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." Jesus here says nothing of the law, but speaks of faith alone. Thus the second doctrine of the Gospel proclaims, offers and sets before the contrite and terrified conscience, the grace of God, reconciliation and remission of sins freely on account of the merit of Christ, and it is God’s will that all people would know and lay hold of the benefit of Jesus’ work for themselves. That is the doctrine that faith lays hold of, that Christ did it all and won for us forgiveness and life and salvation.
Dear friends, God keeps it simple with two doctrines: the law which terrifies the comfortable in their sin, and the Gospel which comforts the terrified in their sin. The last word for us as sinners is the Good News: your sins are forgiven in Christ Jesus and in Christ Jesus, salvation is yours.