Indifference is not characteristic of the liturgy
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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Speaking Like Paul and Luther


Pastor Mark Surburg has offered a very helpful addition to the ongoing discussion concerning the preaching of the Law. It first appeared in Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology 27 (2018): 15-25.

Here is the conclusion-

Luther sees the Christian life as that of being drawn to Christ and then toward the neighbor. For Luther the saving work of Jesus Christ for us comes first. However, this can never be separated from the love which the life of faith now gives the neighbor in service. In fact, Luther can even define the gospel as including both of these:

The other mystery or secret teaching, is that in the church nothing more than the Gospel should be preached. Now the Gospel teaches nothing more than the two previous things: Christ and His example; and two kinds of good works, the one belonging to Christ by which we are saved through faith, the other belonging to us by which our neighbor receives help. Whoever teaches anything other than the Gospel leads people astray; and whoever does not teach the Gospel according to these two parts leads people all the more astray and is worse than the one who does not teach the Gospel because he desecrates and cheats with God’s Word, as St. Paul complains about some [2 Cor. 2:17]. LW 75:218

Luther speaks this way in his sermons because Paul (along with Jesus Christ and the New Testament as a whole) speaks this way. The preacher today cannot control how the Spirit will utilize the law. When it comes to the deployment of exhortation to Christian living, we must recognize that Paul could not control how the Spirit utilized the law either. And yet Paul exhorted, admonished, and taught Christians how to live. In doing so, he provides the apostolic pattern that we need to follow. Because of the inspiration of Scripture, the apostolic pattern of exhortation and admonition discussed by Formula of Concord VI in relation to the third use of the law is in fact a key Spirit-provided model and pattern for addressing Christians. Paul spoke this way. Luther spoke this way. Lutheran pastors today need to speak this way as well.

Follow this link and read the whole thing for your edification.

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