This is the time of year when the Church prepares her heart and mind for the celebration of Easter by committing ourselves to live for Christ; as Peter says in Acts 3:19-20, "Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and the he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus." In other words, because Easter is such powerful Gospel, we lead up to Easter with the strong Law of repentance and the new life in Christ through Baptism.
In OAFC, this preaching of Law and Gospel is the heart and center of our outreach. Just look at the Assurance of Heaven method that we use at the door while canvassing. We divide the preaching of Jesus into the message of Repent and Believe the Gospel; that is, repent of the sinful things you've done because our sin merits us only separation from God and death. Yet even in this hopeless situation, God rescues us through the Gospel of the Good News that Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins and give us eternal life with him in heaven. That's simply good Lutheran doctrine of Law and Gospel. That's why we proclaim that message in that way and that's why we teach everyone who will listen this great method for sharing the message of Christ.
Many people today, though, don't like to hear the Law. They don't believe they are sinners or that God really judges sins. But if God doesn't judge sin and if God doesn't count you as a sinner, then why did Jesus have to die and rise again? That's why the Law comes before the Gospel – so that we can see our need for a savior and so turn to Christ as our only Savior because we can't save ourselves. That's why we have to preach the Law to secure sinners so that we can then preach the Gospel in its fullest sweetness.
As you go through this season of Lent, Directors, Pastoral Advisors, youth and adults, consider spending some extra time in your Bible Studies looking at what God says about the Law and our condemnation under it apart from Christ. I've included a Bible Study that you may choose to do in your local groups on Friday night or for the youth who've already been through the Renewal of Baptism Bible Study – maybe even Sunday morning if the congregation allows. God's blessings to you as you prepare for our Lord's resurrection.
Pastor Matthew Tassey
Bible Study: God's Law
Romans 3:1-31 (or just 3:10-22 for a shorter small group)
Example Leader Prayer:
Almighty God, our Father, be with us as we get into Your holy Word and send us Your Holy Spirit that He may open our eyes to see Jesus Christ for us in this Study; in Jesus' name. Amen.
Example Leader Questions:
- (v 10) What does "Righteous" mean? Why is it bad that no one is righteous?
- (v 11) If no one understands God's ways or seeks God, then how do people come to know about God?
- (v 12) If not even one is good apart from God, then what does that mean for non-Christians? Does God think that the nicest person in the world who doesn't believe in him is actually "good"?
- (v 13-14) What part of the body is Paul focusing on in verses 13-14? What's so important about this part of the body and what do we do with it? Which commandment is this about? (2nd)
- (v 15-17) Do all paths lead to the same place? Why is it important to be on the right path?
- (v 18) What does it mean to fear God? What happens when we make God fearless and take away his power to judge the sin of the world?
- (v 19) Who is under God's Law? Can you be held accountable to God's Law if no one has ever come to preach it to you? (Look back at Romans 2:14-16 for the answer).
- (v 20) What are works of the Law? How do we distinguish works of the Law and works of Faith?
- (v 21) What does Paul mean by "the Law and the Prophets"? (Old Testament)
- (v 22) Whose righteousness has come? So then, whose righteousness do we have? How do we get that righteousness?
- (v 22) What is "Faith"?