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From the Introduction
Prepare to be challenged and comforted, killed and made alive. This book, which contains a series of lectures delivered by C.F.W. Walther to seminary students at the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s seminary in Saint Louis during the late 19th Century is one of the most important theological treatises delivered since the Protestant Reformation.
This book will help you understand the Bible on the Bible’s own terms. But, learning to understand Scripture on Scripture’s own terms is no easy task. In fact, it’s the hardest task in all theology because our sinful nature and our theological idols war against God and the Gospel. This book smashes those idols and calls all who read it to repentance and simple childlike faith and trust in Christ for salvation, forgiveness, life and hope.
Grab your Bible, a notepad and something to drink. You’ll need them all.
Captain Chris Rosebrough
Pirate Christian Media
Law & Gospel Thesis
The doctrinal contents of the entire Holy Scriptures, both of the Old and the New Testament, are made up of two doctrines differing fundamentally from each other. These two doctrines are Law and Gospel.
Only he is an orthodox teacher who not only presents all articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, but also rightly distinguishes from each other the Law and the Gospel.
Rightly distinguishing the Law and the Gospel is the most difficult and the highest art of Christians in general and of theologians in particular. It is taught only by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience.
The true knowledge of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is not only a glorious light, affording the correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, but without this knowledge Scripture is and remains a sealed book.
The most common way people mix the Law and Gospel is the one most easily recognized, and the grossest. It is adopted, for instance, by Papists, Socinians, and Rationalists. Christ is represented as a new Moses, or Lawgiver, and the Gospel is turned into a doctrine of meritorious works. At the same time, those who teach that the Gospel is the message of the free grace of God in Christ are condemned and anathematized by some people, such as the Papists.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is not preached in its full sternness and the Gospel not preached in its full sweetness. Similarly, do not mix Gospel elements with the Law elements or Law elements with the Gospel.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the Gospel is preached first and then the Law, or sanctification first and then justification, or faith first and then repentance, or good works first and then grace.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is preached to those who are already in terror on account of their sins, or the Gospel is preached to those who live securely in their sins.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when sinners who have been struck down and terrified by the Law are directed, not to the Word and the Sacraments, but to their own prayers and wrestlings with God in order that they may win their way into a state of grace. In other words, when they are told to keep on praying and struggling until they feel that God has received them into grace.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher describes faith in a manner as if the mere inert acceptance of truths, even while a person is living in mortal sins, renders that person righteous in the sight of God and saves him. Or, as if faith makes a person righteous and saves him for the reason that it produces in him love and reformation of his mode of living.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when there is a disposition to offer the comfort of the Gospel only to those who have been made contrite by the Law, not from fear of the wrath and punishment of God, but from love of God.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher says that our sins are forgiven because we both believe and are contrite.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when you explain faith by demanding that people are able to make themselves believe or at least help towards that end. Rather, preach faith into a person’s heart by laying the Gospel promises before him.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when faith is required as a condition of justification and salvation, as if a person were righteous in the sight of God and saved, not only by faith, but also on account of his faith, for the sake of his faith, and in view of his faith.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the Gospel is turned into a preaching of repentance.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher tries to make people believe that they are truly converted as soon as they have become rid of certain vices and engage in certain works of piety and virtuous practices.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when a description is given of faith, both in regards to its strength and the consciousness and productiveness of it, that does not fit all believers at all times.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the universal corruption of mankind is described in such a manner as to create the impression that even true believers are still under the spell of ruling sins and are sinning purposely.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher speaks of certain sins as if they were not of a damnable, but of a venial nature.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when a person’s salvation is made to depend on his association with the visible orthodox Church and when salvation is denied to every person who errs in any article of faith.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when men are taught that the Sacraments save ex opere operato, that is, by the mere outward performance of a sacramental act.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when a false distinction is made between a person’s being awakened and his being converted. Moreover, when a person’s inability to believe is mistaken for his not being permitted to believe.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when an attempt is made by means of the demands or the threats or the promises of the Law to induce the unregenerate to put away their sins and engage in good works and thus become godly. On the other hand, the same mistake is made when there is an endeavor, by means of the commands of the Law rather than by the admonitions of the Gospel, to urge the regenerate to do good.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the unforgiven sin against the Holy Ghost is described in a manner as if it could not be forgiven because of its magnitude.
The Word of God is not rightly divided when the person teaching it does not allow the Gospel to have a general predominance in his teaching.