Friday, August 26, 2011

Good Advice vs. Good News

Lutheran Christians have always taught that understanding the Biblical categories of Law and Gospel and the distinction between the two is central to getting what God is all about in His dealings with us.

My colleague, Pastor Dave Mann, who is on the pastoral staff of a congregation here in Ohio, but is deployed in Haiti, recently wrote this on his Facebook page:
During a vacation Sunday this month, I attended a non-Lutheran congregation and heard one of the best sermons rooted in Lutheran theology I've ever heard. Here was one of the points the preacher made.

What's the difference between Good Advice and Good News? Good Advice is advice about what you should do in the future. It may be wise counsel, something you really ought to do, but the burden is then on you to put it into action. News, on the other hand, is an announcement about what has already taken place. It does not depend upon you to make it happen; it's already part of history -- you simply respond. Good News is what Jesus Christ brings to you.

Without ever dropping the name of Luther, Lutheranism, or theology, this preacher made a very clear distinction between Law and Gospel.
Jesus once said that nothing from God's law had been eliminated. The Law--embodied in the Ten Commandments--give expression to God's will for human beings. But we all know that none us can go a single day without violating one or all of the commandments. (In my case, I can't go a day without repeatedly violating the commandments.) The Law is good advice.

The Gospel--the good news that Jesus Christ died and rose to give new life to all who repent and trust in Him--is something that comes to us. All we need to do is respond to it with trust. As Jesus puts it, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes [trusts] in Him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:16).

The Law points us to our need of someone to save us from ourselves.

The Gospel points us to the Savior Who does just that.

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