The medicine of Law and Gospel: how & when to apply

I’ve listened to barely a handful of Radical Grace Radio shows, but I’ve already come across a gem. The episode is pitched this way:

Have you ever had an infection, then had a doctor mis-prescribe the wrong medicine for your infection? This is exactly what it’s like when preachers prescribe too much law to you and no Gospel, or too much Gospel with no law.

Pastor Greg LeSieur and Matthew Pancake gently take their listeners through the proper use of Law and Gospel, and the circumstances in which each may properly be applied:

Great stuff.

4 thoughts on “The medicine of Law and Gospel: how & when to apply”

  1. Daniel,

    My name is Arron – I’m a friend of Peter H, living in Dewsbury. He put me on to your blog. Could you define what you mean by “Law” in this context?


  2. Hello Arron, welcome!

    Simply, by ‘Law’ I (and the radio hosts) mean everything that God commands us to do. The Law shows us what is right and pleasing to God, and it reproves everything that is sin and contrary to God’s will. The Law reveals our sins – and God’s wrath toward sinners.

    Conversely, the Gospel is the Good News of what Christ has done for us – we who have failed to keep his Law and thus have been condemned by it. It tells us that Christ has atoned and made full satisfaction for our sins through His death on the cross, where he bore the punishment that we deserved for our sin. Those who trust in Christ and His sacrifice for them thereby receive the forgiveness of sins through no merit of their own, and Christ’s perfect righteousness is counted as theirs by faith. Through Christ’s sacrifice, they are now no longer objects of God’s wrath, but reconciled and at peace with Him and shall inherit eternal life.

    Another way of thinking about this is that the Law frightens comfortable sinners, while the Gospel comforts frightened sinners. (The Law also acts as a restraint upon humankind’s fallen nature and, for the Christian, shows us what the righteous life that we should lead looks like. What the Law does not do is provide the ability to fulfil its demands. For that, we need the Gospel – though in this life even our best works are nevertheless stained by sin.)

    You might find ch. V of the Epitome of the Formula of Concord helpful with respect to the definitions of Law and Gospel:

    The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord goes into more detail:

    Hope that helps!

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for response. I’ve come across these things before in my own reading. I was more ascertaining if you meant specifically the regulations of the Mosaic covenant or rather more generally the eternal moral will of God, which I see you mean.

    Thanks for the clarification.


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