By Pastor Travis Lauterbach
Two teachings are fundamental to understanding the Bible. They are taught in both the Old and New Testaments. They are paradoxical teachings- both are opposites of each other, but both are true. These teachings are Law and Gospel.
The Law includes everything that God demands from humanity. The Law is anything that must be done. When a person reads or hears a command from the Bible it’s a law. And depending on the context, it’s a law that was either required at the time it was written, or it’s a law that may still apply today.
The commands to love God and love your neighbor summarize the entire law. The whole Ten Commandments stem from these two laws.
The law can also be referred to as commands, instructions, statutes, rules, and even threats. When one breaks God’s Law and disobeys Him, this is sin and the threat is death. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
The purpose of the Law is not only to tell people what God commands, but to reveal that all people disobey God. All are deserving of sin’s consequence of death. So the law itself isn’t bad, but it’s bad news for sinners.
If the Law is what God says must be done by humanity, then the Gospel is what God does for humanity.
The word “Gospel” literally means good news. And the Good News that God gives to sinners who have not kept His Law is that everything has been done for the salvation of the world by Jesus.
All of the world’s sins were died for by Jesus, who did keep the Law perfectly. God’s Son did what humanity couldn’t do. By death and resurrection, Jesus offered the final perfect sacrifice.
So, Paul finishes Romans 6:23 by saying, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.” God gives this wonderful promise of forgiveness and salvation from sin. For sinners, this good news is totally different from the bad news of the Law, but equally true.
The Law says, “Do this.” But the Gospel says, “Done in Christ!”