Law & Gospel
The Law and the Gospel are the two main teachings of the Bible.
The Law is God’s rule for human behavior: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37, 29 The Law is further defined in the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Christ. God’s Law requires a life perfectly free from sin in thought, word, and deed–an impossible requirement for anyone to meet, since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin.
The Law defines the punishment for sin: death in this life and eternal damnation (separation from God). The Law leaves no hope for humankind to escape God’s just punishment for sin.
The Law paints a hopeless picture for all humankind. Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, we are all born inherently sinful. The requirement of perfect obedience is unmeetable. God’s Law does three things:
- It shows us our sin and the need for a Savior.
- It partially checks the coarse outbreak of sin.
- It tells us what is pleasing to God.
From Sin to Salvation
The doctrine of Law is a difficult and disturbing message. On hearing it, some people reject the Bible and God’s message altogether. But by giving us his Law, God shows us our need for salvation and leads us to a proper perspective for receiving the gospel message. The following truths, clearly stated in the Bible, lead us from sin to salvation.
- We are all inherently sinful. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
- No one can earn their way into heaven. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin. Romans 3:20
- One sin has the same consequences as thousands of sins. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10
- No sin is so great that it cannot be forgiven. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
- We can’t earn forgiveness, but God gives it to us out of grace (undeserved love). For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not of yourselves–it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:18
The Gospel is fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation for humankind. God sent a substitute to take the punishment for the sin of all humankind. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, lived a life perfectly free from sin. By his death on the cross, he suffered the punishment meant for humankind.
For all who believe in Christ as their Savior, God covers their sin with the righteousness of Christ. Those who reject Christ reject God’s forgiveness.
How is a person saved? By simple sincere belief in the Gospel message–that the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ completely covers the debt of sin for humanity. The following truths, clearly stated in the Bible, are the essential points of the Gospel.
- All people are sinful, deserving of God’s punishment, and unable to save themselves. You were dead in your transgressions and sins. Ephesians 2:1
- God loves us so much that he sent his own son to save us. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
- The payment for our sins is entirely due to Christ’s sacrifice. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
- A person does absolutely nothing to earn or deserve their salvation. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not of yourselves– it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
- In order to receive the salvation earned by Christ, a person must believe and trust in the Gospel message. Belief encompasses acknowledging one’s own sinfulness, being sorry for one’s sins, and trusting in the salvation earned by Christ’s death on the cross. If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9
- A person does not receive credit for making the decision to believe, since their belief is only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit. No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3
Related Bible Passages
- Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law. Romans 3:20
- God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
- For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Romans 3:28
- I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. Romans 1:16
Holy Word Lutheran Church is part of a larger world-wide synod of like-minded churches called the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The website of our Synod is an excellent source of information regarding our beliefs and doctrinal differences with other denominations.
Feel free to contact one of our staff who can answer more of your questions about our beliefs and how it relates to you.