Law and Gospel: Faith on Trial

Handling the Word of Truth: Law and Gospel in the Church Today Here’s a great quote from John Pless’ book, Handling the Word of Truth (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2004), 24.

“The clash between law and gospel puts faith itself on trial.  Is the gospel really God’s last and final word that trumps the accusation of the law?  Or is there something yet that I must do if I am to have peace with God?  The ability to distinguish law and gospel is brought to the test when the heart condemns and accuses with the memory of past sins.  Where does the tormented soul look like?  When we are crushed by law, the only place we can find relief is in the wounds of Christ Jesus and the promise that his blood cleanses from all sin.”

“This point is wonderfully illustrated in the novel, The Hammer of God by Swedesh bishop Bo Giertz.  In this story, Frans, a man known for his piety, lies dying.  As often happens with a person on the edge of death, Frans’s mind wanders back to the days before his conversion.  Drifting in deliriousness, the dying man utters words of an oath and froths on about drinking and a fellow who had cheated him.  Disturbed by the impious ramblings of her father, Lena exclaims, ‘You are thinking about Jesus, are you not, father?’  Frans replies, ‘I am not able to, Lena.  I can’t think any longer.  But I know that Jesus is thinking about me.’  With those words, a dying man distinguishes law from gospel and dies a Christian death.  The gospel is not about our ability to think of Christ but about his promise as the friend of sinners, his promise that nothing will pluck us from his hands (John 10.28).”

Excellent.  Reminds me that I need to read The Hammer of God again this year.  Also on my ‘Lutheran’ reading list for the upcoming year, I want to read Wingren’s book which discusses Luther’s view of vocation; this book containing Luther’s prayers also looks worthwhile.

shane lems

1 thought on “Law and Gospel: Faith on Trial”

  1. Wingren’s books is an excellent one. I used this in conjunction with Gene Veith’s book “God At Work” as a study with our men’s group in church. Both are terrific resources in our need to re-discover the Lutheran/Reformed doctrine of vocation.


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