Last week I described how the law works to show us our sins, and the gospel works to show us our Savior. I ended by saying words to the effect, “that unless we are acutely aware of our predicament we will not appreciate and cling to the one trying to rescue us.” Indeed, a lifeguard sprinting to you while you are standing ankle deep in a wading pool will be a source of embarrassment rather than one to whom you will embrace.
A problem prevailing today in our culture in too many churches is the diminutive and overuse of the law in preaching and teaching. It can affect how we go about reading the Scriptures for ourselves. I will explain.
As already stated, the law can be used as a curb, a mirror, and a guide; but it is as a mirror that it helps us the most in receiving the promise of the gospel, that Christ our Savior liberates us from sin, death, and the devil. Accordingly, the law accuses, condemns, and kills. Ouch! That’s no fun. But in the words of Luther in the Small Catechism, it is important that we realize that “we are lost and condemned persons.” Just so, we are able to see our need for an undeserved Divine pardon.
When we receive the law lightly, as primarily a guide, we begin to look to Scripture mostly as “good advice” with loads of practical applications. The assumption can easily become that I need a little help getting started, thank you Jesus, but now it is up to me to apply Biblical truths to my life. And the tendency, when I compare myself to others, will either be to pride, as in “look at me, how well I am doing;” or to despair, as in “I just don’t seem to do as well as others.”
But note how quickly Jesus loses center stage, and instead of seeing Him as our Savior, He becomes an example and inspiration. Suddenly, Scripture is all about our effort and journey, and not about Jesus’ work on our behalf. Here law begins to nullify gospel.
Since You Asked…
Are announcements necessary? And should they be included as a part of the liturgy?
Not all announcements are necessary! Nor should they be allowed to disrupt the rhythmic flow of the service. It is likewise important that announcements be kept to a minimum. But certain announcements are important. Information that will enhance participation in the worship, information pertaining to further Christian service, and information for regarding further opportunities for spiritual edification are such announcements of importance, and they are worthwhile to promote publicly to the assembly. We have chosen the beginning of the worship service as the most helpful and least disruptive placement for announcements.