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Psalm 70
Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life! Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who desire my hurt! Let them turn back because of their shame who say, "Aha, Aha!" May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, "God is great!" But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay! (ESV)
Law and Gospel Relations
1 September 2015
The gospel creates a space in which there is liberty for the conscience, because it has been freed from servitude to the law and the fear of death. The Christian stands before God freed from guilt and the power of sin in that space centered upon the cross of Christ. He has a good conscience in the sight of His God. He has become master of the law and lord over its dictates. He silences its demands because, by grace, the Lord Christ's work has handed over to him that authority over the law which secures his liberty. The law now serves him, not he it. The law has worked its worst on God's eternal Son and exhausted itself upon Him, like the Mediterranean Sea pounds Gibraltar century after century, but to no avail, because its power is spent upon the constant rock. The law has no force to spend upon us.
The Christian stands not just in this gospel space of liberty over against God, even if this relation is sum and substance of the church's doctrine. The Christian also stands in relation to his neighbor. He is in bodily servitude to all people; for whom he is to risk his goods, life, reputation, and substance. The liberty of the gospel does not remove us from that relation. It does not create a space empty of humans or negate the importance of human relations as governed by vocation. In vocation we seek to offer obedience in relation to the God-given authorities of home, family, community, government, and church.
Will those whose minds are fleshly step into the space created by the liberty of the gospel so as to abuse it, to treat it as permission to run riot, to live like swine, to call evil good and good evil? Yes, of course. The Lord will have to take care of them in his own way and time; this is not our affair. It is our affair to preach the gospel no matter how wastefully it is received nor viciously it is abused. This remains the church's calling; to preach the blessed peace of Christ through His substitutionary suffering and death. We also need to call people to faithful service to each other. The gospel frees us for such sacrificial service. It keeps us from being burdened by the desire to earn blessings by our actions, and in the freedom of the gospel, it frees us to live in the space of the gospel while taking up the law for the sake of the neighbor. Nor is this to "return to the law," but to live in the freedom of the gospel in God's sight and bound to the need of the neighbor in the sight of the world. Both are realms in which we live and relations that need to be maintained.


Martin Luther

"We have the divine mandate to preach the gospel, which announces to all men, if only they believe, the free gift of liberation from the law, sin, death, the wrath of God etc., for the sake of Christ. We have neither the intention nor the authority to conceal this freedom or to obscure and revoke it once it has been made public through the gospel; because Christ has granted it to us and has achieved it by His death. Nor are we able to compel those pigs, who are rushing headlong into the license of the flesh, to be servants of others with their bodies and their possessions. Therefore we do what we can, that is, we diligently admonish them that this is what they should do. If we accomplish nothing with our warnings, we commit the matter to God. In His own time He will inflict just punishment on these contemptible people. Meanwhile, however, we are comforted by the fact that our labor and our diligence are not in vain among the godly, many of whom have undoubtedly been snatched through our ministry from the slavery of the devil and have been transferred to the liberty of the Spirit. These few, who acknowledge the glory of this liberty of the Spirit, who at the same time are ready to serve others through love, and who know that according to the flesh they are debtors to the brethren, elate us far more than the sadness that can be caused by the innumerable crowd of those who abuse this freedom.
"Paul speaks in clear and precise words when he says: 'You were called to freedom' (Gal 5:13). To prevent anyone from imagining that he means the liberty of the flesh, he explains himself and says what kind of liberty he has in mind: 'Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another' (Gal 5:13). Therefore every Christian should know in his conscience that he has been constituted by Christ as lord over the law, sin, death, etc. and that these have no jurisdiction over him. On the other hand, he should know also that this external servitude has been imposed on his body, that through love he should serve his neighbor. Those who understand Christian liberty differently are enjoying the advantages of the gospel to their harm and are worse idolaters under the claim to be Christian than they used to be under the pope. Now Paul shows beautifully from the ten commandments what it means to be a servant through love." 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 5.13
Lord Christ, lead us to know our conscience has been constituted by Christ as lord over the law, sin, and death, and that these have no jurisdiction over us. Deter those who understand Christian liberty differently and are abusing the gospel to their harm. Enlighten us that we might confess that external servitude has been imposed on our body, that through love we might serve our neighbor. Amen.
For Richard Schuler, that he would be granted the gift of strength and healing

For the family of Bruce Bockoven, whom the Lord took to Himself, that they would mourn with faith and confidence of the resurrection
For Paul Lodholz, that the Lord Jesus would be with him, giving him every blessing of body and soul
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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