No Matter How You Say It
St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles
28 October 2016
"You say tomato, I say tom-ah-to," or so the song goes. It takes both kinds to make the world go round. The world needs care-givers like mothers and death-dealers like the Marines. This is true of law and gospel. We need threats and promises and they work together to deal death and bring life. Life and death must go together, even though they are brought by different words of God, death by the law and life by the promises.
We may not flee the law nor abolish it. We cannot abolish what God has established. Only God can make the law pass away. He will at the end of this age. Until that time, we live under the law, not in it. We live under the law not by it. We live in the promises and by the promises of God. There is no short cut to the gospel, there is no end run around the law's threats. There's no getting around it; we must face the onslaught of the law and run life straight up the middle. We can face the crushing tackles of the law because we live by and in the promises. The law can do its worst, but it cannot overcome us. For Christ is the one who raises the dead, those who are crushed and killed by the law.
There are those who think the gospel has made the law irrelevant; that it no longer applies in the new era bounded by the gospel. At best, this is self-delusion, at worst it is the attempt to place God under our control, so that He is no longer able to say to us what we need to hear. If we silence the law, we will no longer need the gospel. No matter how you say it, we need both law and gospel.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"'Is the Law, then, against the promises of God' (Gal 3:21)? Earlier Paul said that the Law does not justify. Then let us abolish it! No; for it, too, has its usefulness. What is that? It brings men to a recognition of themselves; it discloses and increases sin. Here immediately another question arises: If the Law merely makes men worse by disclosing their sin to them, it conflicts with the promises of God; for God seems merely to be irritated and offended by the Law, so that He neither observes nor keeps His promises. 'We Jews thought the opposite, namely, that through the Law we are kept and held in that outward discipline, so that God may be moved by this to speed the disclosure of the promise, and so that by this discipline we might merit the promise.' Paul replies: 'No. Quite the contrary,in fact. If you pay attention to the Law, the promise is held back even more.' For human reason offends the God who promises when it refuses to listen to His good and holy Law but says: 'Let not God speak to us' (Ex 20:19). Should God keep His promises for those who not only do not accept His Law and discipline but hate it bitterly and run away from it? Here, as I have said, the question immediately arises: Then the Law seems to stand in the way of the promises of God? Paul only touches on this question in passing and goes on; still he does reply to it and says: 'Certainly not' (Gal 3:21)."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.21
Psalm 79

O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth. They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake! Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes! Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die! Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord! But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
Lord, let me hear the threats of the law deal death, that the gospel promises might free me from that death and bring life out of death. Amen.
For Matthew Heise of the Lutheran Heritage Foundation, that he might be kept safe in his travels
For those in seminary programs, that they might feed on Christ and thus feed the sheep on the true bread that comes down from heaven
For all families expecting a premature child, that they would be kept safe in the caring arms of the good Shepherd
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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