The proper distinction between law and gospel by cfw walther
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The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel by CFW Walther. ~ The Second ~ Evening Lecture. Review: . What is the most important teaching of Scripture? What is the second-most important? What do Law and Gospel have in common? How do they differ?

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The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel by CFW Walther

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The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel by CFW Walther

~ The Second ~

Evening Lecture


  • What is the most important teaching of Scripture? What is the second-most important?

  • What do Law and Gospel have in common? How do they differ?

  • How do the initials “SOS” remind us of the difference between Law and Gospel?

Thesis I

  • 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, viz., the Law and the Gospel.

1. As soon as a person becomes a believer, what desire arises in him? (pg 12)

  • “The moment a person becomes a Christian, there arises in him a keen desire for the doctrine of Christ.”

  • “Even where there is but the beginning of faith in the heart, a person regards no point of doctrine as trifling, and every doctrine is to him as precious as gold, silver, and rubies”

2. We've talked about several differences between the law in the gospel. The fifth difference concerns the effect that these two doctrines have on people. the effect of the law is threefold. The Law tells us what to do, but what does it not do?(pg 13)

  • “the Law tells us what to do, but does not enable us to comply with its commands; it rather causes us to become more unwilling to keep the Law.”

3. In the second place, the law shows man his sin, but what does it not offer him?(pg 14)

  • “The Law uncovers to man his sins, but offers him no help to get out of them and thus hurls man into despair.”

4. In the third place, the law produces contrition (it makes us sorry for our sins) but it offers not a drop of what?(pg 14)

  • “… not a drop of comfort to the sinner. If no additional teaching, besides the Law, is applied to man, he must despair, die, and perish in his sins. Ever since the Fall the Law can produce no other effects in man.”

5. 2 Corinthians 3:6 says “The letter kills." what "letter" is this referring to?(pg 15)

  • The Letter of the Law! “… because God has inscribed it in the form of letters upon tables of stone.”

6. What have even pagan unbelievers (like the poet Ovid) noticed about the effect of the Law?(pg 15)

  • “The Law produces an effect opposite to that which it commands! The statement of the profligate poet Ovid is well known: ‘We strive after the forbidden thing and always lust after those things which are denied us.’”

7. Is it the Law or the Gospel that produces trembling, fear and sorrow?(pg 15)

  • The Law. “The Israelites, at Mount Sinai, were given the Ten Commandments, they were all a-tremble. …The rich young man went away sorrowful. …When Paul preached to Felix, the governor, concerning righteousness, temperance, and the Judgment to come, we read that Felix trembled.”

8. We now move to the affects of the Gospel. The Gospel indeed demands faith -- but unlike the Law, the gospel has the power to do what? (pg 15)

  • “The Gospel, when demanding faith, offers and gives us faith in that very demand.”

9. What is the second effect of the Gospel? Rather then reproving the sinner, what does it do? Which parable of Christ is a great example of this?(pg )

  • “The Gospel does not at all reprove the sinner, but takes all terror, all fear, all anguish, from him and fills him with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

  • In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, “… the father does not with a single word refer to his horrible, abominable conduct. He says nothing, nothing whatever, about it, but falls upon the prodigal’s neck, kisses him, and prepares a splendid feast for him. That is a glorious parable exhibiting to us the effect of the Gospel. It removes all unrest and fills us with a blessed, heavenly peace.”

10. Thirdly, the Gospel issues no orders but rather does what?(pg 16)

  • “…it changes man. It plants love into his heart and makes him capable of all good works. It demands nothing, but it gives all.”

11. What was the only "requirement" that Paul asked of the jailer at Philippi? (pg 16)

  • Acts 16:31: So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.

  • “The jailer does not say to the apostles: How am I to go at this? No; he promptly believes, for the apostles’ words have spoken faith into his heart. The story concerning him goes on immediately: He rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. Observe that the Gospel bestows the faith which it demands. ”

12. What about good works? Are they the cause of salvation or the effect of salvation? (pg 16-17)

  • Effect. Ephesians 2:8-10: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

  • “The Gospel does not say: You must do good works, but it fashions me into a human being, into a creature of such a kind as cannot but serve God and his fellow-man.”

13. the sixth point of difference between the lawn the gospel relates to what? (pg 17)

  • “…ltrelates to the persons to whom either doctrine is to be preached. In other words, there is a difference in the subjects to whom they must be applied.”

14. To whom is the Law to be preached? To whom is the Gospel to be preached? (pg 17)

  • “The Law is to be preached to secure sinners and the Gospel to alarmed sinners.”

15. how much Gospel can we preach to secure sinners?(pg 17)

  • “As long as a person is at ease in his sins, as long as he is unwilling to quit some particular sin, so long only the Law, which curses and condemns him, is to be preached to him.”

16. How much Law should be preached to people who are repentant and discouraged by their sins?(pg 18)

  • “To such poor, sad-hearted sinners — I repeat it — not a word of the Law must be preached. Woe to the preacher who would continue to preach the Law to a famished sinner! On the contrary, to such a person the preacher must say: “Do but come! There is still room! No matter how great a sinner you are, there is still room for you. Even if you were a Judas or a Cain, there is still room. Oh, do, do come to Jesus!””

17. Luther puts the difference between Law and Gospel quite simply in "the analogy of the sack." What is that?(pg 19, near the bottom)

  • “In offering us help and salvation as a gift and donation of God, the Gospel bids us hold the sack open and have something given us. The Law, however, gives nothing, but only takes and demands things from us. Now, these two, giving and taking, are surely far apart. ”

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