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When you read scripture, what happens to you?

                

                 As Luther studied scripture, he became aware of how God’s word becomes active in our lives.  It is something more than our just reading to understand – the words of scripture actually do something to the hearer, to the reader.

That’s why we say that the Word of God is a Living Word.  It is more than just letters on a page.  It is even more than extremely helpful information to know and to adapt.  The Bible holds the living Word of God; it holds Jesus himself.  When you hear or read scripture, God’s Word enters into you.  And it does things. 

 

What does this look like?  People like Martin Luther came to understand that we experience this living Word as Law or as Gospel.  Both are gifts of God’s grace, but they function differently.  Luther said that knowing the difference between Law and Gospel is crucial, because if you don’t discern the difference, the work of Christ will always become lost to the law.

The language of the law is, “Do this.  Don’t do that.”  Law includes anything in scripture where, when you read or hear it, you think, I need to change my ways.  This is such a good thing, a wonderful gift of God’s grace, but note that it’s dependent on your doing something.  It is conditional: if you do this thing, then you receive this other thing.  It is based on your action.  It is based on what you do.

The Gospel, on the other hand, is not conditional.  It does not wait for us to do something.  It just comes, as a gift freely given by a gracious God.  It is the gift of new life in Christ.  We hear the Gospel in words such as, “By the authority of Jesus, your sins are forgiven.”  Or in words like, “You have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ forever.”  Or in words like, “This is my body, given for you ... my blood shed for you ... for the forgiveness of sins.”  The Gospel comes as unconditional promises given by God.  Here is the gift of new life in Christ for you.  It is based on what God does. 

No conditions, just God’s pure gift of love and mercy.

Now we get to see what happens next in this new life.

 
Pastor Tim

 

For more information about Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd please contact us at 218-525-1922.
We are located at 1325 N. 45th Ave. E. Duluth, MN  55804
 (corner of 45th Ave. E. and Colorado St.)  Map it!