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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Leaning on the Word of God in Challenging Times- Lesson 11

We have looked at a few examples of biblical figures who have trusted in the Word of God in the midst of suffering. Now we will take a turn, and look at the doctrines of law and gospel. Law and gospel has an important place in the life of every believer, and it certainly has an application to the difficult times we endure. 

For now, we will introduce the topic of law and gosepl and later we will apply to how we view suffering. (Once again, much of this bible study will be taken from John T. Pless's book Word:God Still Speaks to Us, a part of the Lutheran Spirituality Series. [Concordia Publishing House: St. Louis, 2006.]) 
1) Luther writes that there are two things that God has to say to us in scripture- a word of the law, and a word of the Gospel. The law is what God commands us to do. It is best summarized by the 10 commandments. God expects us to obey the law, because if we break it we would do the one thing he cannot tolerate: sin. The law threatens us with punishment and condemnation. 

The Gospel is quite different. The Gospel speaks peace and salvation to us. It is best found in the death and resurrection of Christ. The Gospel tells us of God's promises to redeem us and bring us into his new creation. 

2) Read at 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 

What is the ministry that brought us death? (Pless, 13)

The law brings death. It cannot be fulfilled without Christ. Consider Psalm 14:1-3. No one can obey the law; therefore if it weren't for Christ we would be condmened.  

What is the ministry of the Spirit? 

The ministry of the Spirit is the Gospel. The Spirit creates faith in us, so that we are rescued from the law and death. The Spirit continues to  minister to us to preserve and protect our faith, so that we can continue to grasp the grace and salvation offered in the gospel. 

3) Read Romans 3:19-31 (Pless, 13)

We hear the words justification and justice in these passages. What does Paul mean? 

Paul is using a court room analogy. We are guilty and deserve to be sentenced to death. God's justice demands that we die for our sins. However, we are declared innocent, because God has given us his Son's righteousness. Our sins are forgiven by God, because God sent his Son, Jesus, to die in our place! Justification means that we have been declared righteous and forgiven by God. 

Look again at verse 31. Why do we uphold the law if we are justified only by Christ's life, death and resurrection? 

Once we are justified the law takes on a new pupose. It helps us answer a new question. Before we had to ask "what must I do to be saved?". God has shown us that salvation comes by faith in Christ. Now that we have the answer; we ask how should I live? We live upholding the law, because the Holy Spirit works to turn us away from our sin. We also obey the law out of gratitude and sheer love for God. We can serve God freely. Yet, we know that obedience will not save us, only the grace that get through faith saves us. 

4) What do you think of the difference between law and gospel? 

How do both law and gospel affect your life as a believer? 

What does the law have to say to you in your sufferings? 

Spiritual Exercise: 
As we enter Holy Week, look for messages of Law and Gospel. If you do not usually go to church attend some of the Easter Services, and see if you can pick out what is law and what is gospel. 

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