THE WEEK OF MISERICORDIA DOMINI – THURSDAY
LESSON: ROMANS 2:19-26
The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17
You have often heard how God sent a twofold proclamation into the world. The one is to proclaim God’s Word as Law and tell men: “You shall have no other gods before me.…You shall not kill, commit adultery, steal” (Exodus 20:3,13-15). In this proclamation, men also hear the threat that if they do not keep this Law they will die. This proclamation never succeeds in making a man truly righteous in his heart. For although a man is compelled by this proclamation to live a pious life outwardly before his fellow men, in his heart of hearts he is hostile to this Law and would prefer that it did not really exist.
The other form in which God’s Word is proclaimed is the Gospel. This tells us where a man must look for the ability to do what the Law demands. The Gospel does not drive a man on with threats; it coaxes men in all friendliness. The Gospel does not say, “Do this; do that!” but, “Come, I will instruct you where you can receive and obtain the wherewithal to become truly acceptable to God. See, here is the Lord Jesus Christ. He will give you all this.”
These two forms of proclamation are in opposition to each other, like taking and giving, demanding and donating, and one must get a good grasp of this distinction. This distinction has always played a very important role in God’s government of the world and still does. The Law must be preached to rough, uncouth men who have no knowledge at all of the Gospel. These men must come under the compulsion of the Law until they are mellowed and acknowledge their weaknesses. When they reach this stage, they are ready for the Gospel.
SL 11:778 (2-3)
PRAYER: Lord God, our heavenly Father, continue to show us by Your holy Law that we are poor, lost, and condemned sinners when judged by our works, but above all, continue to let the light of Your wonderful Gospel shine into our hearts with its message of salvation, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil—Gospels, 3:17-31.