This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Why am I Lutheran? I see the difference
For people living in the 21st Century, I believe there are two huge reasons to be Lutheran. The first one is called the “proper distinction between Law & Gospel.” The second is called the “doctrine of vocation.” This devotion is going to be about Law & Gospel. Next week you’ll get to dig into vocation a little bit.
Have you ever thought about leaving Lutheranism? I have. But the #1 thing that keeps me Lutheran is the “proper distinction between Law & Gospel”.
Do you know about the proper distinction between Law & Gospel? You may know what the Law is—it is the standard God has set for life that, in the case of a sinful person, shows us our failure. You may know what the Gospel is—it is the fact that God has removed our sins and placed them on Jesus, who paid for them with his life and freely gives us the power of his resurrection.
But do you know about the proper distinction between Law & Gospel? Do you know about the way these two important teachings interact? The way they completely contradict each other and yet each remain true? The way they can’t be mixed but they both must apply?
God is perfectly just—that means he doesn’t compromise at all, but rather sets a standard and sticks to it—so he has to punish a lawbreaker like you. At the same time, God loves completely and without any strings attached, so that you do not need to fear his punishment. This affects every aspect of your life.
You’re at school. There are bullies. The Gospel means that they are loved without strings attached. The Law says they deserve punishment. If you ignored the Gospel, dealing with the bullies would be easy. If you ignored the Law, it would be even easier. But making sure that you treat them as though they are condemned by a wrathful God and loved by a merciful Savior? Not only is that hard, but it is the only solution to the problem.
You’re at work. The employee you work closest to wants to take an extra-long break, which would get less done and rip off your employer. The Law says, “I can’t do that, it is important for me to honor my employer.” The Gospel says, “This person is loved and saved. Christ respected authority in their place.”
It’s not just balancing. It’s living in the genuine truth. Both Law and Gospel are true and right. You must take a step forward, walking the line in between. It is the highest art of Christian living.
Prayer: Lord, you alone find it easy to see how the Law & Gospel work. You alone know every next-best-step. Teach us to see the world through the lenses of Law & Gospel, and forgive our missteps. Amen.