The Law is Just As Important for the Christian as the Gospel

The following conversation is said to have taken place between Martin Luther and his colleagues –

“Doctor, many men think and say that the law should be emphasized often for the sake of the profane common people, lest they abuse the gospel. Others say that the common man ought not to be cited as a reason but only the command of Christ, who wishes that the goodness of the Father may become known through the gospel. Which of these opinions is the better?”  The doctor [Martin Luther] replied, “This shouldn’t and can’t be comprehended in a fixed rule. Christ himself preached [the law and the gospel] according to his circumstances. As a passage or text indicates, therefore, one should take up the law and the gospel, for one must have both. It isn’t right to draw everything into the gospel alone; nor is it good always to preach the law alone. The Scriptures themselves, if properly adhered to, will give the answer.”

Sage words indeed.  If we today emphasize the Law more than the Gospel than we end up with a modern type of pharisaism; and if we emphasize the Gospel more than the Law, then we end up with libertine licentiousness.  The Law, properly understood, drives us to the Gospel, and the Gospel, rightly known, makes us obedient to the intention of the Law.  One without the other is no more conceivable, nor sensible, than one side of a coin is any more use than the other.  Both together are required.

At the end of the matter there is no Law-less Christianity nor any gospel-less Law. The Law is just as important for the Christian as the Gospel.

One thought on “The Law is Just As Important for the Christian as the Gospel

  1. GeoffSmith 18 Sep 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Good point. When modern Christians define Law as “rules” and gospel as “grace,” then things stop making sense. The gospel includes Jesus’ commands (which Jesus claims fulfill the law!). The rules of the Old Testament include promises. Sticking with what Scripture means in the text and then in relationship to the rest of Scripture is always the best option.


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