Law and Gospel
I have enjoyed reading a small book published by Mockingbird Publications called Law and Gospel. It is helpful in understanding how both words shape and influence the Christian life. I finished the book last week so here are some quotes to think about:
the Law must continue to convict us of our utter unrighteousness, and the Gospel must continue to save us...So where the Law is a closed fist, the Gospel is an open hand.
Gratitude is a natural response to salvation. It does not require coercion or encouragement; to the extent that individual understands what has happened, gratitude will flow organically and abundantly from their heart. The precise form it takes will be different every time, but such is the nature of fruit.
Belovedness can actually beget love itself.
God's presence and promise are objective comfort, not to be conjured or obtained but only recognized.
Thus the wild, absurd, unconditional truth of God's love in Emmanuel--"God with us," just as we are "with Christ"--is one we may not always feel, but something to simply be repeated to us over and over until some shred of it sinks in.
A strong belief of Luther, and those who follow in his footsteps, is that people should not be enticed to church by the Gospel and then, after believing, turn toward self-improvement. The Law always kills, and the Spirit always gives life. This death and resurrection of the believer is not a one-time event, but must be repeated continually: It is the shape of the Christina life.
Distinctions between the horizontal and vertical are important if we are to avoid conflating the way we think about God and the way we think about human life.