Martin Luther - Lesson 13
Luther on Law and Gospel
Luther's commentary on Galatians is an attempt to set "Law" in its proper setting.
Luther on Law and Gospel
Luther on Law and Gospel
Luther, the Pastor: Luke 24:46-47
Selections and discussion from Ferde's, Where God Meets Man
Law is not to be confused with laws.
Luther emphasizes 2 uses of the law
1. civil use
2. convict of sin.
3. there is debate as to whether Luther held to the normative 3rd.
The voice of law...pierces the conscience of the individual
Gospel is the end of the law, something new.
Luther and the Concept of the Law
I. The problem of Law in the Book of Galatians
A. Paul's eschatological understanding of law.
B. The Law was not given by God but by intermediaries (Galatians 3:19)
C. Paul's view overturned in the face of Marcionite heresy
D. The church maintained that Christ's appearance consisted in a revision of the law.
E. The result is that 'new' becomes a bad word in the church.
II. Luther's 'commentary' on Galatians is a massive attempt to set law in its proper setting
A. Luther speaks of 2 ages/aeons
B. Luther points to the three advents of Christ
C. Luther asserts that the law must be fixed really, not only theoretically
1. LW 26:316
2. 3 comings of Christ in the flesh, in our souls, and the appearing at end time.
III. The Problem of the third use of the Law
A. Antinomianism forces break beyond faith
B. 3rd use tries to save law by making it manageable
C. Sorting out the issue
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Introduction to the life and theology of Martin Luther.0% Complete
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Luther expressed his views in a way that was shaped by his theology and the culture.0% Complete
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Martin Luther was born in Germany in the late 15th century, just after Guttenberg developed his printing press.0% Complete
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When Martin Luther posted the 95 theses, his intention was to discuss and debate the misuse of indulgences, but it was interpreted by the church heirarchy as an attack on the power of the papacy.0% Complete
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Luther's writings demonstrate his ability to understand and articulate issues that are at the core of the nature of God and man. His theology is distinct from philosophy and consists of many comments on passages in Psalms and Romans.0% Complete
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Faith alone justifies. By faith the Christian is made to love God, therefore a person does good works because they cannot remain idle.0% Complete
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The work of Christ when he allowed himself to be crucified on the cross, teaches us about God's nature, our nature and our relationship to God.0% Complete
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Luther's fourfold sense of scripture focused on historical (literal), allegorical (figurative), tropological (moral), and anagogic (future).0% Complete
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Luther's view of the atonement differs from classical views taught during his time and view held by the scholastic tradition.0% Complete
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Luther's teaching on justification by faith is central to his theology.0% Complete
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Theology of the cross assumes bondage and moves to freedom.0% Complete
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Four positions on predestination include the Calvinist, neo-Protestant, intuitu fidei, and Gnesio-Lutherans.0% Complete
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Luther's commentary on Galatians is an attempt to set "Law" in its proper setting.0% Complete
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The sacraments are an external expression of an internal reality.0% Complete
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Luther's teachings on the importance of baptism and arguments for infant baptism.0% Complete
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Luther's view of the theological and personal significance of the Lord's Supper.0% Complete
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The kingdom of God and secular government have areas of unity and areas of differences.0% Complete
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Luther gives a definition of the church and describes characteristics of the church.0% Complete
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Luther developed a catechism to help people focus on the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith.0% Complete
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Martin Luther's writings can encourage people to pursue their relationship with God on a deeper level.0% Complete
This course is an introduction to the life and writings of the great German reformer, Martin Luther. There are 20 lectures totaling approximately 18 hours. These lectures were given at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.
Dr. Gordon Isaac
Luther on Law and Gospel
[00:00:02] Luther says this. I look 24 versus 46 or 47 reading the following way, Jesus said to them. Thus, it is written that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. The gospel then is nothing but the preaching about Christ, Son of God and of David. True God and true human who, by his death and resurrection has overcome for us the sin, death and hell of all who believe in him. See to it, therefore, that you do not make a moses out of Christ or a book of laws and doctrines out of the Gospel for the Gospel does not expressly demand works of our own, by which we become righteous and are saved. Indeed, it condemns such works. Rather, the Gospel demands faith in Christ that He has overcome for us sin, death and hell, and thus gives us righteousness life and salvation, not through our works, but through his own works, death and suffering, in order that we may avail ourselves of his death and victory as though we had done it ourselves. Let's pause for prayer. Almighty God, our Heavenly Father. You did allow your son to suffer the agony of the cross so that you might drive from us the enemy's power. Grant that we may so observe his passion and give thanks for it. That we may thereby obtain forgiveness of sin and redemption from death eternal. So the same Your son. Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. Okay.
[00:02:02] Today we're going to be taking up the question of law and gospel, and we're going to be doing it in a couple of different ways. I want to kind of shoot from the hip to begin, just to give you some kind of orientation to this very interesting, problematic. And Luther. I remember when I was in my doctoral studies, we had qualifying exams and and, you know, you go in for a few days. You're right. And you're right and you're right. You get writer's cramp. I think that's the point. And then after that, then these professors gather around you, you know, and they grill you, they ask you questions. They just. And in my particular case, the questions came fast and furious. Just even before I could finish answering one question, another one was launched at me. And I remember that my my advisor, my guiding professor through the doctoral program, he asked me, well, this is what's the most important thing about Luther? I responded without hesitation, law and gospel just that fast. Because it seems to me that if you understand, Luther, at this point in law and gospel, you really begin to understand the kind of problematic that he's working with and the kind of subtle, dialectical thinking that Luther is so famous for. Well, perhaps he's not as famous for it as as he should be. But now that you've read through Bondage of the Will and you've done some other thinking on Luther, you've begun to see, Hey, there's more to this guy than just nailing a piece of paper to the Wittenberg Chapel door. There is a subtlety to his thinking and a willingness to engage in the kind of dialectic which cannot simply be nailed down. So Luther Luther is is subtle at this point.
[00:03:54] And it's it's a particularly important place to begin. I do want to recommend a very simple book by Gerhard Flaherty entitled Where God Meets Man. Luther's Down to Earth approach to the gospel in this little piece. What he does is he sets forward at the beginning of the book a very simple way of understanding Luther online gospel. And what I thought I'd do is just give you a bit of that to begin with, and then we could launch out into some deeper water and try to understand Luther a little bit more in terms of the concept of law and the issue that confronts the church, especially out of dealing with the book of Galatians, for example, Any attempt to understand reformation faith has to deal with a troublesome question of the nature of the law and gospel. As Luther said, this is the key to theological understanding. It is therefore a good place for us to start. As a matter of fact, if you trace out and you check out Luther's writings, you'll find that quite a number of times he'll make this very specific claim. And if you remember, back to our session on the task of theology, this is an issue that came up. But Luther will say such things as this. A person who masters the art of exact distinction between the law and the gospel should be called a real theologian. These two must be kept apart. The function of the law is to frighten people and drive them to despair until they realize their inability to meet the demands of the law or to obtain grace. The gospel alone satisfies the thirst which the law. Creates the gospel, makes us cheerful, revives and consoles the conscience, etc., etc.. So these are the kinds of statements that Luther makes all over in his writings, that it's the distinction between law and gospel, which makes a real theologian.
[00:05:53] You know, you might think, hey, what marks out Martin Luther from all of the theologians in past history, theological history. And in present times, you might say, well, justification, my faith, but not so. It's really this distinction between law and gospel and this dialectic between these two. One of the things that 30 points out as being an important issue to take up is that as human beings, we seem bound somehow to think of the law as a kind of staircase or a ladder to heaven. We more or less assume most of the time without really thinking very deeply about it, that the law was given as a way to God or to salvation. If we could climb, if we could climb the ladder of the law, we would make it to our goal. Now, I suppose it's natural for us to think that way because all of the structures of this world, this life in which we live, are based on law. If you do good work, then you will be rewarded for it. If you complete your paper on time, then the professor will give you a better grade. All of that kind of stuff. So we live in a legal structure, so it is a natural sort of a way for us to think if we do or we don't do what the law demands, we get what we've got coming. It's quite natural to attempt to apply the same kind of logic to our relationship to God and His law. The law becomes a ladder, a scheme by which God supposedly rewards those who live up to it and punishes those who don't. But it's precisely this natural way of thinking that Luther attacked. So in the matter of law and gospel, we have to understand that its natural reason, the devil's whore, as Luther called it, that Luther never ceased to fulminate against.
[00:07:46] He saw this kind of thinking at its worst in the medieval penitential system and the abuses that had grown around it. But we misunderstand if we think that it was only this system or its abuses that he was attacking. He was attacking a way of thinking, which is a kind of universal disease of mankind. The very idea that the law is a ladder and that God is one who can be bargained with or obligated to pay off according to such schemes. Now, Luther wasn't against reason. Luther claimed that human reason was one of the highest gifts that God could give. But he is talking about natural reason insofar as it finds itself out from underneath faith and sees that this way of understanding the law is really at the root of many of our problems with respect to our relationship with God. One of the things that Ferdie says is that for Luther Law are not is not to be identified with laws in the plural. Law is actually a voice that speaks within the conscience. For Luther, the critical question was not so much what the law says, the information it contains, but what it actually does to you when you hear it. And that is why Luther put so much stress on the question of the uses of the law. The question of is one of how the law is intended to be used and what it is actually supposed to do. What he worked out were the two uses of the law. The law is intended, he said, first to regulate human conduct here on Earth. That's the civil use of the law to produce civil righteousness, and second, to convict of sin. That's the theological use of the law to produce repentance.
[00:09:41] It seems that Luther never spoke of a third use of the law, the law as a guide to Christian living, even though lengthened and others did. There is some dispute on this particular topic. There are some Lutherans who claim that for all intents and purposes, Luther did hold with their views of the law and others like Gerhard Flaherty, who say no. That simply isn't the case. Now what is behind this intriguing, subtle formulation of the idea of the uses of the law and what does it actually do in the first place? We should note what is not said. It is not said that the law was intended as a way of salvation. The law is not, in that sense, a ladder to heaven that would make the law into a mere theory and theology. And of course, as we began to understand Luther, at the point of theology of the cross, it's quite clear that that simply isn't an option as he understands things. The law for Luther was understood in a much more concrete, actual and dynamic sense in its theological use. Law should be understood as a concrete and actual voice, which sounds in the heart and the conscience, a real voice which afflicts man in his isolation from God and demands that he fulfill his humanity. This voice for Luther can and does arise from anywhere and everything. It is not limited merely to what one might call the sphere of morality. When man is separated from God, anything and everything can betray him. The voice, for instance, can arise from something as simple as the sudden rustling of the leaves in the forest. There's an interesting passage in Luther where he's dealing with his exposition of Genesis, where he says that Adam and Eve, after they had fallen into sin, heard the rustling of the leaves.
[00:11:29] And that is what began to prick their conscience. They recognized that they did not have life in themselves and that they were out there on their own. And so this was a voice that they heard in their conscience. It was dramatic. It can come as from something as simple as the rest of the lives of leaves or the voice of the law can come to us in something more dramatic, like a bolt of lightning or more tragic, like an accident. It arises from the demands which society makes on us, the demands of family and friends of seminary, whatever it happens to be. And above all, it is the command of God that we must love Him with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. The voice of the law reaches its climactic crescendo in the preaching of the cross. For there we see finally how serious and immediate the law really is. For Luther's view, the declaration that the Son of God had to suffer so brutally at the hands of sinful men could only strike terror into the heart if that's what happens to the Son of God. How much more do I as a sinner deserve that? See, the law then, is a voice that strikes in the conscience. The point here is that the law is not merely a set of commandments, not merely a set of requirements, but the law is the immediate and actual voice arising from the sum total of human experience. In this age up to and including the cross, a voice which will not stop until our humanity is fulfilled to talk of law. Luther says in one instance, is not to speak about it technically or materially or grammatically, as though it was merely a bunch of words written on a piece of paper.
[00:13:23] But as it is and sounds in your heart, exhorting, piercing the heart and conscience until you do not know where to turn, it is a voice which attends the human condition as we know it here on Earth. It's a voice that man can never stop in this life. As long as man remains in send, the voice never stops. It has no end. It goes on and on in an endless number of forms and an infinite variety of disguises. The law is the length and later put it always accuses. Now, the important thing to grasp here, if we are to avoid the latter idea, is that the law is not defined only as a specific set of demands as such, but rather in terms of what it does to you. Law is that which accuses and terrifies and in any real sense, anything that does this functions as law. Law is not a ladder to heaven. It is the mark of man's existence in this age, from the rustling of the leaves to the agony of the cross. It is the voice which for the sinner never ends. Now, if we look on the law in this way, that helps us to begin to understand what Luther means by gospel and the distinction between the two. If the law is that voice, which sounds in the conscience something which we cannot escape as long as we are in this age, in this life, then we see that the gospel is precisely the response or the antidote to this problem that we have. What is the gospel? It is the end of the law. That is to say that what the gospel does is to put an end to the voice of the law. And that means actually to put a stop to it, to shut it up, to make it no longer heard.
[00:15:17] Thus, the gospel, too, is defined primarily by what it does the gospel comforts, because it puts an end to the voice of the law. And it is an entirely new and unexpected thing that breaks into man's life and world. The voice which for man as sinner never ends, is stopped by God's action in Christ. An entirely new kind of life rakes in upon you and me. That's what gospel is. So you see, the gospel is something new. But how is this possible? How can the unstoppable voice be stopped? The voice stops really only when what the law demands is really there. That is, the voice stops only when we fully become what we were intended to be. The command to love, for instance, stops when we actually do love. The law ends when the new creation begins. The Gospel is the joyful message that in Christ this new creation has already and actually broken in on us and the promise that it will be carried to its completion. It is the story of one who came down to earth and lived under the voice and died under it, as we all do, but yet arose triumphant and broke its power and brought it to an end. The Gospel is the story of him who shattered the grammar of Earth, who broke open the closed circle of the voice of the law and gave us the gift of hope. Luther understood the Gospel as something more than a theory about how God might or might not have been bought off in heaven in terms of a theory of the atonement. If it were only that it would be just another law. It would be merely a set of doctrines to which the command would be added.
[00:17:01] Thou shalt believe this or perish. But the Gospel was much more than that. It was a power, a living voice, great enough to stop the voice of the law and bring it here on Earth and bring to us the beginning of the new life of freedom. It's not the story of something that happened only in heaven or in the mind of God. It is the story of something that happened here on Earth, strong enough to break the actual hold of the law on us, strong enough to turn this earth itself into a place of light and life and joy, strong enough to turn the rustling of those leaves to into the sound of the gospel. So if we want to visualize this whole business, we can talk about and we've used this image before, but it doesn't hurt, though the latter idea and the whole business of works. And it's interesting to me that in the book of Romans, it does talk about individuals who are attempting to secure their salvation, their relationship with God on the basis of works. This is to view the law as a ladder to heaven. Is as well. No, that's really not the way we should understand this thing. Rather, we should recognize that we are in a closed circle, that the law, when it comes, it comes after the fact. It doesn't show us our possibilities, but it shows us how far, far, far we've fallen short. It's it's an incredible thing because it's the case that the law binds us to existence in this life. The law shuts up and binds us to the past. It comes after the fact. The law comes too late. I suppose Peter wanted salvation, but the cock crowed. I suppose Judas wanted salvation, but he had already taken the 30 pieces of silver.
[00:19:02] The law does not come as the promise of possibilities, but the news of lost possibilities. And the message is there is no exit. We are bound up in that now. That's the purpose of the law. That's the voice of the law as it comes to us. And it's real existential, you know, in this existential moment in which you hear the voice of the law. This is what it's saying. No exit. You've got a terminal disease. Now, then, this helps us to understand that the gospel really is a new thing. The gospel does not fix the broken rung, the bottom rung of this ladder. The gospel is not a fix it job for the law, which remains eternal. But rather we have to recognize that the law in Luther's understanding of things, it has a limit. And you know what? Romans ten four tells us that Christ is the end of the law for all those who believe. It really is the case that for Luther, the law then is shut up by the voice of the gospel and it comes to an end. We were under the law under tutelage until Christ came. And the Gospel has its way with us. Insofar as the law accuses us, the gospel puts that voice to an end. And now then, with Christ taking up residence in our lives, we have the imputed righteousness of Christ so that ultimately the law is fulfilled. It shall be fulfilled completely. The end of time, when all sin is expunged from our lives. In this time we are in the interim period where the law still obtains, but at the beginning of the new eon, when it's fully brought in, it will, you know, it will cease to exist, not that it ceases, but that it is fully fulfilled.
[00:21:22] So its demand is put to an end by the voice of the gospel. So that and in order that ultimately we will fulfill the demand of the law, then that is the promise that comes in. And with the gospel, basically the gospel is I promise to drive all sin from your life and bring your whole and complete into the kingdom. That's the message. That's the word. Now, house that's accomplished, that's accomplished by the living relationship which is reestablished. There was estrangement because of sin, but now we've come into right relationship with the living God, and then in the end of time, we will no longer need to be instructed by the law. That's Jeremiah 31. There, the New Covenant exists so that no one will have to instruct their neighbor about the law. You must do this. You must do that. We will do it naturally, because that's simply who we are. Now, in this time, of course, will used to say, because we continue to struggle, there is a divine warfare that's being carried out in us. So there's a real sense in which the Christian life is carried out between these two poles, law and gospel, and we move along back and forth between these two. There's a dialectic, as it were, that exists. The new creation has been inaugurated in Christ, his death. Now, we can just continue with this picture here. This is the voice of the law, the concrete historical action then which has taken place here on Earth to achieve the end of the voice of the law is the resurrection of Jesus. He breaks the way you see the law accused Christ on the cross. The law was one of the accusers against Christ, and he broke out through this closed circle of death.
[00:23:14] And now he is the risen one. So the new Ian has begun. He is the first fruits among those who slept. Interesting phrase, don't you think? Yes, he was really dead. But now he is really alive, never to die again. And because his resurrection is fact. Now, then the the expectation, the Jewish expectation was this, that at the end of time everyone would be raised. So wonder of wonders what happens God does for Christ in the middle of time what the Jews were expecting at the end of time. Now, here's the first fruits of those who slapped and being the first fruits, the first fruit. It is that lump of dough which makes the rest holy. And there is the expectation that because one has been raised from the dead, the resurrection has started. Therefore, the full measure of those who are to be resurrected will follow after him. So that's the concrete thing which has happened. That's the already Christ is the already insofar as Christ takes up residence in us and insofar as we continue to hear the word of the gospel. But now this is the dialectical part of it, because it's pretty easy for us to snap back under law. I hear the word of the gospel today, I believe. Yeah, everything's cool, everything's fine, you know? And then I run along and 2 hours later, then I have the tendency to snap back and to view myself in a different relationship with God. The voice of the law accuses. I need to hear the word of the gospel again. The gospel never becomes our possession, and so we need to go to service again and again. The gospel is come fresh every day. So there's a sense in which, yes, I was saved in the past, But for Luther, this is one of the very fascinating things for me as an evangelical in dealing with Luther.
[00:25:08] For Luther, there's very much the sense in which we are being saved now in time. And that's an ongoing process facilitated by the ongoing preaching of the word. It's a lively, dynamic process. It's not dead and static. I think sometimes in our evangelical contexts, we've sometimes been all too satisfied to talk about the fact, well, I went down forward once, you know, and now well. I've even heard of stories where, you know, a concerned wife finally nags and coerces and gets their husband to go to church and he hears, you know, the pastor, lay it on him. You know, the fear of hell or some other kind of thing. And, you know, gets him all worked up and he steps out and goes down forward. Okay. Now he's saved one. Saved, always saved. And now the guy stays home on Sunday morning drinking beer and watching football. And so the reality of Christ is not there living in his life. What Luther wants to say is that the gospel is an ongoing need for us as Christian people. It's a living voice. You see, if we if we construe Christian faith as simply you, you've got to believe these four laws, these four spiritual laws, and pray the prayer. But once you've got the scalp, then what's left to do? They're on their own. You know, the deal is done. And all of that signifies is that we've got an abstract notion of what's gone on in God's mind somewhere. But when we begin to understand law and gospel in terms of the living voice of what happens to us every day, then we recognize, yeah, once we hear the preaching of Christ, now we've come close to God and God has come close to us.
[00:26:57] And now there's an ongoing dialog. Now I find it fascinating. Lutherans don't talk about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They find that talk sappy. They say, I don't see Jesus work. How can how can we talk about a personal relationship with Jesus? What they will do, though, is they'll confess the faith. They'll say, I believe in God, the Father Almighty maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. And on and on. And they go, Well, because why? It's because the faith to them is this living and ongoing dynamic. Now, of course, as with any tradition, there are lacks Lutherans, just as there are lacks Baptists or lacks anything else. But but that's the dynamic that one reads in Luther, and that's the tension that I love to find in Luther, particularly in his small catechism, for example, when he's talking about baptism, the meaning of baptism. We'll get to that next time. But this this is the kind of dialectic that's going on. The voice of the law accuses the voice of the gospel, puts the voice of the law to an end. That's why when you go to church on a Sunday morning, your pastor gets up there and says, you know what, we need to be good Christian people. And in order to be good Christian people, we need to read the Bible more and we need to treat one another better. And we need to go out and evangelize more. And we need to do this. And if you end up leaving church with this laundry list of things we ought to do. That's why you feel so mad and angry when you go home from church. What's he just done? He's just preach law to you.
[00:28:41] He didn't put the law to an end in your life. He didn't preach gospel. He just told you, Gave you a laundry list of things you're supposed to do to be a good Christian that reduces Christianity's morality and a pretty weak kind at that. What Luther's talking about is a different kind of preaching. He's talking about a preaching which exalts the living Lord, which talks about God's intention for this world. And what it is He has done in the past is mighty acts of creation. His ongoing work on creation is ongoing now. It's not simply that God created the world at the beginning of time. God is creating now. And you know, the second article of the Creed that talks about Jesus and his ministry is death and resurrection. That's creation. To think about the incredible creation that God does in the personal work of Jesus, to inaugurate the new thing of the gospel. And then the third article of the Creed that talks about how finally God's dominion will be over everything. God should become all in all. And so we look forward to the resurrection of the body. So another good time to put in a plug here. Our existence as Christians is always looking forward to the new heavens, new earth. It's not straight to heaven when you die and disembodied experience in heaven. But rather, Paul looks forward to the redemption of our bodies. Romans 829. And so you see the whole flow of the Christian story moves in that direction. The preaching of the gospel is the telling of that story and applying it in our lives from the text of scripture, whatever that text might be, whether it's Psalms is the Old Testament or whether it's the New Testament in such a manner that we get on with this business.
[00:30:35] You messed up this week. You didn't live as a Christian, a life as you needed to. But you know what? There is some good news for you today. You're not a Christian because you have followed a list of rules, but because someone has sought you. Someone has come after you. Someone who would not give up on you and who now is here in this room. To carry your life on one step further. Yes. In the midst of struggle, in your family or in the midst of conflict here in our congregation, or whatever it happens to be. And you see, the pastor then applies that word. And that's the preaching of the gospel, which puts the voice of the law to an end, participates in the already of Jesus Christ and applies it now so that we become forward looking people. So this this is what law and gospel is about here. Okay. Let's. Talk a little bit further about this business. Any questions here at this point that gives you an orientation to law and gospel and Luther? If you understand that, you've got you know, you've got a fair amount going for you. And then as you continue in your reading, you can you can, you know, put flesh to that in a number of ways. Now, let's talk a little bit about Luther in the concept of law. And let's just start out by saying this. The way in which you fix your concept of law will determine how your systematic will be constructed. The way in which you fix your concept of law will determine how your systematic will be constructed. One of the things that we can say is that the problem of law was first created by Paul. That rascal and his eschatological understanding of it is because he's convinced that law rules under the old eon.
[00:32:41] But now in Christ, the new eon has been established. So the law is thus conditioned and it's not something which exists for all eternity. He understands that the law has its place and its time, but it has a very fixed role. Now there's this very interesting thing that goes on in Galatians 319. Let me ask you to read Galatians 319 for us and listen to what listen to this rendering of the law. And who gives the law? Listen to this. What then was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. Did you get that? The law came into increased trespass. That's the phrase out of Romans. But it applies here. That's what's going on here in Galatians two. And then what it says is that the law came until the time of the seed, to whom the promise referred and come. And the promised seed, of course, is Christ. When Christ comes the law and the implication here is the law ends. And then finally it says that the law was given through angels or intermediaries. What is this square with your understanding of the giving of the law in the Old Testament? What's the Apostle Paul doing? He knew the Old Testament quite well. What's he getting at here? Why does he say the law is given by intermediaries, by angels? Oh, it's very interesting. Paul claims that the law was not given by God, but by intermediaries. It seems to me that one of the things that he's attempting to say is that the law. Has a limited existence. It's given by intermediaries. It's not eternal. And this is his way of framing the issue.
[00:34:56] Now, it's interesting to note here that this critical estimate of the law on the part of Paul did not mean a critical or a critique of the content of the law. As such, the law is wholly just and good that is in its own dispensation. There is nothing wrong with it. But now that crisis come, man is freed from the rule of these angelic mediators, freed from the slave master because the son himself has come. The new eon has begun in Christ and the old law is abrogated. Now, it's interesting here that Paul's view of the law depends on the idea that what was begun in Christ would soon be consummated, the piracy, or at least that's what some people say. Some theologians think that this is you know, Paul believed the Christ was coming soon so that he could say that, so that if the law wasn't, you know, fully operational now, if it was abrogated by the coming of Christ just a short period, it won't be any big deal. There won't be a wholesale breakdown of society. Paul, however, had based his entire argument for freedom from the law on his eschatological point of view. The Gentiles were free from the law because in Christ the New Age had died. You remember in Galatians this is the problem. You know, the Jews continued to have their legal regulations. They remained kosher, but the Gentiles weren't required to fulfill that particular portion of the law. Why not? Shouldn't all Christians do things the same way? Well, they didn't because Christ had come the new Ian had done. That was Paul's argument. As time went on the church structure, it fell back quite naturally on the institutional laws of the Old Testament. Furthermore, the Pauline view on the law ran counter to the attempt on the part of the church to claim the Old Testament for the law was, after all, part of the canon.
[00:37:07] How was this to be squared? Some, like Barnabas, took up the task of interpreting the Old Testament law spiritually, but yet the problem remained because in the Old Testament it was precisely to the literal precepts that eternal validity was described or ascribed more over in the Old Testament, no angelic powers of any kind had any part in the legislation at Sinai. Now, in the course of history, Marcion arose and he was very attached to Paul's idea that the law was given by a mediator. So you remember, Marcin? I was convinced that the God of the Old Testament was not really the one true God, but was simply a demiurge. He was the one who created stuff. And Marcion still attached himself to certain kinds of platonic notions that said matter created stuff is is evil. And so he was trying to make an adjustment saying we need to get rid of the Old Testament and this God of the Old Testament who is concerned with law and punishment and all of this kind of stuff. And we need to look to the God of the New Testament. This Jesus who is loving, merciful and kind. So Marcin was very attached to Paul's idea that the law was given by a mediator as a fact, as a matter of fact. He equated the mediator of the law with Yahweh and called Yahweh an angel. This was the Demiurge or the bungling God, as Marcion would put it, and he wanted to get rid of him. Now, this meant that for them, the God of the law simply came into conflict with Christ as the Heavenly Redeemer. And in their system, they could simply leave it out. And that's what Marcion and the Gnostics did. Now, the church, of course, was alarmed at Marcion and his move because it meant simply shocking the entire Old Testament.
[00:39:09] Consequently, Catholic theology, in response to Marcion in its fierce struggle with the heretics, began to take the opposite view and ignore or correct Paul's view about the law as being mediated by angels. And they said instead that it is the God of Israel without qualification. That was the author of the law. And thus, in the Catholic view, Christ, the pre existent logos himself became under God's Commission the lawgiver of Sinai. You see the problem emerging here. But by doing this, the church undercut not only the heretics, but also Paul, whose view lay behind it all. They say this move just compounded the problem because once they had said that Christ himself, the pre existent logos was the ring of the law, then they would land right back in the lap of the Judaism, which originally they were trying to argue against. For this would mean that the law is indeed eternal. Thus they were caught in a battle between two fronts. Judaism on the one hand, and against the Judaism. The Catholic Church has to say no, the law does not apply. Gentiles don't have to fulfill circumcision and all the regulations of the Jewish law. But on the other hand, they had to fight against Marcion and against Marcion. They had to be very careful because the arguments that they would use against the one side would only seriously compromise its position over against the other. The idea that the logos was the lawgiver. Indeed controversy did marcion. But at the same time it weakened the argument that the Christian was free from the Jewish law. You see the problem. It really it's it's a bad problem. You can talk about. You can talk about law in a number of different categories and number of different ways.
[00:41:18] Well, here we're talking about the giving of the law, the Torah. Here we're talking about the law of Israel, the Ten Commandments. Okay. Now, Luke, or rather Paul, says that this is given by intermediaries until such time as the seed of promise was to come Christ. So what Paul is trying to say is that the law has its rule over the nation of Israel. Until such time as Christ comes, Christ has come. That's what Paul has said. Okay. Now, then you get in this fight with the church because you can see what Paul is trying to say is that the law has its has its time, but it has an end when Christ comes in the new age. Okay. Now what? Marcion says he wants to throw out the law altogether, and he wants to claim that this law is really the expression of this bungling God, the Demiurge, this angel Yahweh. Well, the Catholic Church, after the time of Paul, says, Well, we can't have that. So it's really Jesus as the preexisting logos, who is the giver of the law, as Paul sets it out here, the intermediary. So that law is eternal, not that it comes to an end because crises come, but Christ is now the giver of the new law. Now that really helps them fight against Marcion. But you see the problem that it puts them with respect to the Jewish Gentile question within the church. What makes you a Christian? Is it your allegiance to circumcision plus Jesus, or is it Christ alone and nothing else? You see, their position at that point was compromised and thus you get the whole penitential system, the abuses we've been talking about all semester long. There was a combination. Yes, there's.
[00:43:15] There's grace, but there works too. So it's this combination thing. So we're talking about the the role and the extent of law. Now, the problem was how to escape this dilemma here. The church embarked on a new and dangerous path, contrary to Paul's view, which is scatological and talks about the two eons. There's the old Ian of sin and the old Adam. There's a new on the new island of Christ and the new creation and the new creature in faith. Okay. Now the church embarked on a new and dangerous path. Contrary to Paul's view, it undertook to prove that the significance of Christ appearance consisted in some kind of revision of the Mosaic Law. Thus, they got involved in a critique of the contents of the Sinai law itself, as Paul had, as Paul had never done. But in doing this, they were, in a sense, doing the same thing that Marcion had done, for which they had condemned him. Only they did it to a lesser degree. Whereas Marcion had criticized the contents of the whole law. The church undertook to criticize only a part of the law, and what resulted from this was the all too common idea that only a part of the law was abrogated. The ceremonial law, while the rest remained in force. But this was equally tricky because in the view of the Old Testament, the ceremonial law is no less eternal than the Decalogue. Thus, adjustment had to be made by showing how and why the ceremonial law was only temporarily valid. So you see the problem that this whole question evokes what we find going on here to cut to the chase. Paul's view overturned in the face of a march, denied heresy. The church maintained that Christ's appearance consistent a revision of the law.
[00:45:11] The result is that the new becomes a bad word in the church. The church fell back on a general idea of what occurs in the natural law. And so they fell back on a general ontology rather than on revelation. And so it was really impossible to reintroduce the viable eschatological view of Christ in the gospel of the already in the not yet they had reduced the question to a monism, and thus they were stuck. And against this backdrop, the distinctive doctrines of the church and the breaking in of the eschaton, the already and not yet which is so formidable in the Apostle Paul, becomes quite unintelligible against this kind of backdrop and this operation with respect to law. Thus, the church has had to struggle with the doctrine of law. It can no longer really agree with Paul that the law actually provoked sin and had the effect of sin indeed had been established for the sake of sin, in order to increase sin so that the service of the law became the service of death. The church, of course, had to combat the idea of the heretics that the law was given by an angel, Yahweh. But in so doing, they failed to realize that what Paul was trying to say was that the law belonged to this age, that it was temporal, not eternal. And when incontrovertibly the heretics, they made the law eternal. They also undercut Paul, and with it his doctrine of the eschatological nature of grace. So the only argument against and to no mean ism would be Noam ism. Thus, the whole Pauline doctrine of the law was broken up into unrecognizable fragments and the original relationship of Paul to Jesus. In the matter of the doctrine, the law became completely unintelligible.
[00:47:20] For Paul's relationship to Jesus was really quite simple. As Jesus had said, not one jot or tittle shall pass away until heaven and earth shall pass away until the end of this age. Paul had simply claimed that in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the end of the age had indeed broken in. Hence Christ is the end of the law to all those who believe. But the Church, in its battle with heresy, took the other road, and this meant that the law would remain a problem in relation to the gospel, which would be bound to explode again and again. Now, then when we take a look at Luther's commentary in Galatians, it's a massive attempt to set law in its proper setting. Luther speaks of the two ages are the two eons, and we have him speaking in this sort of a way precisely because in this matter he follows the Apostle Paul. You see, new Eon is not a bad word for Paul or Luther, although it seems to be a bad word in the church in some ways. New here on new creation, a new handbook, a new relationship to earth. It's it's been a tough thing for the church to handle. But what we have in Luther is we've got this commentary on Galatians and he begins to speak of the two ages, the two eons. There are a couple of very interesting passages in Luther which will give us insight into where he's going with this Luther's works. Volume 26, Page 317 And following are actually the 316 and following. You have an interesting point that Luther is trying to make. He's saying that we need to understand that Paul does not make the law permanent, but he says that it was given and added to the promise because of transgressions that is, to restrain them in society.
[00:49:23] And so civil use of the law, but especially to reveal them theologically. And we see the theological use of the law here for Luther. And he says that this was not to be forever, but for a certain time here it's necessary to know the predicate to what point that is, how long the reign or tyranny of the law was to go on revealing sin, showing us what we are like and manifesting the wrath of God. Those who really feel all this would perish instantly if they did not receive comfort. And so carry your questions. Particularly appropriate here. Recognizing our sinfulness is made possible by the Gospel, which promises a resolve for this issue unless the days of the law were shortened, therefore no one would be saved. And so it is necessary to predetermine the manner and time of the law beyond which it is not to prevail. How long, then, is the dominion of the law to last until the offspring comes? And there we go back to the Galatians passage in your offspring shall our nations be blessed, Therefore the laws necessary to the point when the fullness of time and the offspring of the blessing comes, not that the law itself brings the offspring or grants righteousness, but in society. Then Luther does this interesting thing. He talks about how Christ comes literally. He talks about how Christ comes spiritually and he talks about how Christ comes in the heart. Very interesting, the three comings of Christ, as it were, in the flesh, in the soul, in the policy, as actually how he speaks of it in the flesh. That's Christ's flesh, in the soul that is in us who hear the word of the gospel in time. And then finally, in the policy or in the appearing of the Lord at the end of all time.
[00:51:24] Literally, the law lasted until Christ. The law and the prophets Christ says prophesied until John. From the days of John until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence and men of violence take it by force. At that time, Christ was baptized and began to preach, when in a literal way the law and the whole mosaic system of worship came to an end in a spiritual sense. The law must not rule in the conscience any longer than the predetermined time of the blessed offspring. Therefore, when the law has disclosed my iniquities to me, has terrified me and has revealed to me the wrath and judgment of God so that I begin to blanch into despair. Then the law has reached the prescribed manner, time and purpose, when it must stop exercising its tyranny. This is a really fascinating way of talking, isn't it? This is incredible that Luther, he talks about the law having tyranny over it, but it has a determined time when it will end because then it has discharged its function by adequately disclosing the wrath of God and creating terror here. One must say, get a little of this stop law. You have caused enough terror and sorrow, though. Just overwhelm me with all these waves. Thy dread assaults destroy me. Some idiot. Oh Lord, do not rebukes I servant in that anger nor chasing me in thy wrath. Psalm six. When these terrors and complaints come. It is the time and the hour of the blessed offspring. Then let the law withdraw, for it was indeed added for the sake of disclosing and increasing transgressions, but only until the point when the offspring would come. Once he is present, let the law stop disclosing transgressions and terrifying. Let it surrender its realm to another that is to the blessed offspring Christ.
[00:53:16] He has gracious lips with which he does not accuse and terrifies, but speaks better things than the law, namely grace, peace, forgiveness of sins and victory over sin and death. So you see what Luther's attempting to do here. He's talking about the legitimate role of law, which is to increase sin. That's the theological use of the law, but that it has an end. There is a manner, a time and a place in which the law must finally yield to the voice of Christ and the voice of the law. One has to be incredibly careful that in formulating the third use of the law, one does not then. Turn the gospel into old news. That's the trick, isn't it? And that's why Luther never attempts it straight on. Not the way Langford does, and certainly not the way Calvin does. And this is one point at which the Lutheran tradition parts company with the reforms tradition in a very interesting way, it seems to me. Now, then, I suppose we can talk about the fact that the the Koran, that the teaching that we find in in Old Testament can become for a commandment. It's no longer law in the sense that accuses it can become commandment. But once again, it's not something that we take up to use. Part of the problem with the third use of the law terminology is who uses the law? Do we take up the law now in our hands as redeemed believers who are now able to fulfill the law with the aid of grace? I think that's a dangerous position to take up. But it is the position which many of us are very, very familiar with and have probably been taught. But I think that's a tricky, tricky question because the law, if you understand it in terms of a voice which accuses.
[00:55:17] It's not something which becomes a tool in our hands. There are passages in Luther Escalation commentary where he talks about the fact that we can never warm up to the law. What happened in the giving of the law in Mt. Sinai? The people of Israel remember this passage. It's incredible. God gives the law on the mountain. The mountain smokes and the people, you know, God begins to speak to the people of Israel. What do they do? They plug their we can hear you no longer. The law is simply too hot to handle. We can never cozy up to the law and make it our friend, because the purpose of the law is to point out our weakness and our sin. The law thus never changes insofar as its theological use is concerned. The only thing that can change is the gospel which comes which produces the life of faith. Now, if we begin to think about the to the two eons here, now we can say this insofar as I'm still a sinner, the law applies to me and I need to hear the voice of the law which accuses me. So even now, after a number of years of being a Christian, I need the law. I need to hear the law because I need to be accused insofar as I'm a sinner. But insofar as I'm a new creation, I have nothing to do with the law. Christ is the end of the law to all who have faith. You see, the old Adam is concerned with human reason law and works the new Adam as the life of faith is concerned with the gospel. Human reason which has been transformed through faith and. Spontaneous works of of hope. Not works that are meant to achieve righteousness or to increase one's personal holiness.
[00:57:17] But works which are meant to serve. So you see, the orientation is altogether different, and that's what we've just entered into to a little bit of practice here. On thinking in terms of two eons. It's a biblical category, but it's not altogether easy to do. But that's what Luther is, is attempting to do.