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And the child [Isaac] grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac." And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, "Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring." So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. (ESV)

Law and Gospel About Everything

Thursday of Pentecost 15

25 September 2014

The distinction between law and gospel is about everything or everything is about the distinction between law and gospel. Well, you see what I mean! One of my correspondents replied to yesterday's Memorial Moment: "The Law and Gospel theme has been following me around the past couple of weeks.  I have had lots of direct conversations about the topic." We can't get away from law and gospel, no matter what we might call it: sin and grace, bondage and freedom, wrath and peace, or, as Paul does here in Galatians: Hagar and Sarah. But to fail to make the distinction, no matter what it is called, or to fail to recognize its meaning when it is made will leave us entirely the children of the law and without the comfort of the gospel. We will be sons only of Hagar with all of her rights and privileges, but we will be cast out of the household with her in the end.


We must distinguish between freedom and bondage, the new testament and the old, and true blessedness in God's sight and its mere appearance in the sight of the world. Our world makes a great show of standing for justice and rights, and that is good as far as life in the world is concerned, but it benefits us in God's sight not at all. The real thing is in Christ (Col 2:16-17). The world will never accept the idea that the real is completely centered in Christ and His work on the cross in our place. But it makes us the most truly free people in the world, because the law just doesn't apply to us in our relationship with God. We are freed from it by Christ. It is really good that everything is about law and gospel, isn't it?


Martin Luther


 "The people or the church of the new testament is completely without law so far as its conscience is concerned. Therefore, in the sight of the world she appears to be deserted. But even though she appears barren, without law or works, yet in the eyes of God it is very prolific, giving birth to an infinite number of sons, and free ones at that. How? Not through the husband Law but through the Word and the Spirit of Christ, given through the gospel, it conceives, bears, and rears its sons.


"With this allegory Paul clearly shows the distinction between law and gospel (Gal 4:28-31). First, when he calls Hagar the old testament and Sarah the new. Next, when he calls one a servant woman and the other a free woman. Finally, when he says that the one who has a husband and is prolific will grow ill and will be cast out of the house with her sons, but that the one who is barren and desolate will become prolific and will produce an infinite number of sons, all of whom will be heirs. These are the essential differences between faith and the law. The people of faith does not have the law as its husband; it is not in slavery; it was not born of the present Jerusalem as its mother. But it has the promise; it is free; and it is born of Sarah, the free woman." 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.27

Lord Christ, You are the center of the new testament. Keep us from trusting our own good works. Rather lead us to trust you alone, no matter how much the world might hate us for it. Help us to live in that glorious liberty we have in You. Amen.


For all church musicians, that they would help the song of the church to be sung for the strengthening in the faith


In thanksgiving to God for temperate weather, that He would continue to bless us with good weather


For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that the Lord of the church would be with him and strengthen him in every good deed 
Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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