November 15, 2018

Devotional article for The Greybull Standard
and The Republican Rustler
God is One, and so is His Goodness
Knowing Law and Gospel allows us to know who God really is.
One of the great gifts God gave to His Church and His Christians with the Lutheran Reformation was the distinction between Law and Gospel, that is: the realisation that God speaks in two different ways. He commands and demands complete goodness and purity and threatens judgement and damnation on all evil and impurity and imperfection; and He promises grace and all things good to those who fall short of His goodness, all on account of what our Lord Jesus – who is Himself God from eternity – has done for us sinners with His perfect life of love and with His innocent sufferings and death under the judgement and damnation of His own goodness against all evil, including our sins and shortcomings. Lutheran Theology has usually categorised these two ways in which God speaks as “Law” and “Gospel”, although Holy Scripture uses other terms, also, for teaching how God speaks in these two different ways.
Understanding that these are two different ways in which the one God speaks is what makes it possible for Christians to know who God is.
For it is the one God who speaks in these two ways. God is one, ever undivided. And so, Law and Gospel do not represent two different impulses or qualities in God. It is not that God is good, but not so good as not to really demand goodness of His creatures. Nor is it so that He demands goodness, but no more so than to be willing to dispense with this demand. And Christians are not left to wonder which impulse in God will turn out to be the stronger and ultimately prevail.
It is the goodness of God that hates evil, and therefore demands full and complete goodness. And it is the same goodness He Himself presents fulfilled and brought to completion in the Gospel. God is one, and so is His goodness.
Now, this is theology. But what does it mean for the life and faith of common Christian?
It means that God means what He says – simple as that!
When Holy Scripture promises full forgiveness for all sins and shortcomings, it is the promise of God, and His Christians can believe it and be certain of their salvation.
And what God commands, that is what Christians must do, and we owe it to Him to do it. This is true also. But it does nothing to take away from His promise of full forgiveness for all sins and shortcomings.
This means that Christians can live and serve God joyfully, knowing that even our failings and flaws in doing so are covered by His mercy, and that therefore, and for no other reason, our obedience is pleasing to Him, however incomplete it may be, and whatever impure motivations might also be involved.
Pastor Jais H. Tinglund
Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem