The Law and the Gospel

Biblical Text: Romans 3:19-28 (John 8:31-36)

This is my attempt at a Reformation Day sermon that tries to bring that 500 year old crisis into our day. The core insight of the Reformation is understanding that the Word of God comes to us as a Word of Law and a Word of Gospel. (Gospel has become a churchy word. It simply means good news, but even that feels like a euphemism. I would simply use promise. The Gospel is the promise of God revealed in Jesus Christ.) And I think it might take a bit, but the animating phrase, the phrase that makes it fall into place for me is “do the work.” That’s the modern “woke” phrase and it is so close to the Reformation era phrase “do what you can” or what Luther started with in the 95 theses, “do penance.” The Law demands from us. The law of God is good and wise, human laws less so, but the fact of the Word of the Law is that it always condemns. And our primary strategy is to try and minimize the law. Unleash our internal lawyers to make affirmative cases. Yes, we did it, but it doesn’t matter, because…

The work is never done, except in the cross. That is the gospel. This sermon attempts to make us feel the weight of the law, and to open that bottle of 200 proof grace that Luther stumbled accross.

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