Three Uses of the Law
Continuing the discussion from last week of the interplay between the Scriptures speaking to us, either as “law”, or as “gospel”, I wish to describe to you how these two ways of addressing us work together.
By way of quick review, when we are speaking of law we are speaking of God’s will and of His demands upon us. Certainly this is clearly reflected in the Ten Commandments. But there are plenty of other places throughout the Bible where we can hear God stating His demands for us and how His creation is set up to operate. And when we are speaking strictly of God’s gospel, or promise, we see this also unfold throughout the whole of Holy Writ whenever there is an indication of what God is doing on our behalf, especially out of mercy, and when He gifts us with His favor and blessings. The ultimate in the promise is what Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished in forgiving our sins, and holding forth the promise of being liberated from sin, death, and the evil one.
I mentioned last week, that “law (demand) and gospel (promise)” needs to be distinguished from each other, but not separated. They work in tandem. For example, you do not confuse your foot for your hand. And yet they often work together, as when your feet take you to your workbench and provide a steady platform as your hands accomplish some task.
There are three things the law does. It curbs evil. It mirrors (reflects) our flaws (sins). And it guides our actions. A curb, a mirror, and a guide! But the second task, as a mirror, is the most important for our salvation, for it SOS, shows our sin. Now the gospel especially SOS, shows our Savior! And we will not see the need for, or cling to, a savior unless we have an acute sense of our need for a rescue! Hence the work in tandem.
Since You Asked…
Does the receiving of money offerings play a significant role in the worship service?
Yes, more than you might think! Cash is one of the strongest symbols in modern culture. When we offer our money on the altar it should represent our time and effort – our very selves. In early Christian worship gifts-in-kind were handled during the weekly assemblage. In our post-industrial societies, we now exchange in paper or metal symbols. The offering of our selves upon the altar is in response to God’s love proclaimed in the Good News and in anticipation of how God offers back that which is entrusted to him. During the moment of offering we also offer bread and wine upon the altar, and in return these gifts are offered back to us as the very body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.