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In part 6 of my ongoing series on C. F. W. Walther’s  Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible, I said:

…if the only teaching applied to people is the Law, then they despair, die and perish in their sin.  More on this in a future post…

Here is that future post.

This statement is one side of a coin.  Some people grow up, live and die under all-law preaching and never have this melt-down I’ve described, or better put, never realize that this is what’s ticking under their hood.

The other alternative is for a person to be crushed under the weight of the fact that they don’t love the Lord with all of who they are…and to not let themselves off the hook because they realize that they do not keep the law perfectly.

Obey! No exceptions! This is the demand of the Law.

Teaching people that “it takes more than faith to really please God” is, in reality, extremely cruel.  To those who are convinced of their own righteousness, it pushes them on in their odious good works.  Telling the ones who despair of their sin such a thing drives them further and further away from the Gospel…that Christ has obeyed perfectly in their place all that the law demands.

Perhaps I haven’t been blunt enough.

  • When your pastor tells people that the Gospel is the door you walked through and now it’s time to get busy and serve God, he is preaching the law improperly and unbiblically.
  • When you pastor tells you that “church isn’t for you [as a believer],” he is preaching the law improperly and unbiblically.  He is also lying to you…through his teeth.
  • When your pastor informs you that you aren’t supposed to be a consumer on a Sunday morning, he is lying to you…and brow-beating you with law which does not come from God.  Sunday is for you to be nourished with God’s gifts of his word and hopefully (at least once in a while) his body and blood…it’s not for you to give back to God as if he needed anything.
  • When your pastor talks more about the implications of the Gospel than the Gospel itself, he is preaching the heresy of the Higher Life that comes to us through Keswick theology (check out the charts at the end of the PDF).
  • When your pastor gives the Gospel only to the non-Christian and never preaches the Gospel as being applicable (but merely assumed) to the believer, he is putting you on a rat-wheel of good works whether he intends to or not. Intention doesn’t figure into what I’m saying.
  • When your pastor mines Scripture for “lead like Jesus” principles, he’s serving his own agenda.  Worse than that, it’s an agenda which has nothing to do with the Scriptures. He’s deceiving you and preaching law in a most twisted way.

Perhaps I’ve been too bold.  But each of these examples demonstrate a misuse of God’s law, often through misrepresentation.  If the answer to my sin (not serving, not being a friend, not being a good husband, father, whatever) is “try harder this week,” your pastor is not preaching the Bible, the Gospel or anything in accord with valid doctrine. If he isn’t telling you, “You’ve failed this week to love your neighbor…but Christ has died for that! Repent, and believe the good news that Christ has secured your forgiveness through the shedding of His blood”, run from him. If the actual solution to sin is try harder, then Christ came for no purpose whatsoever.

So ask yourselves: where is the Gospel in the sermon I’m hearing?

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