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A Note for Preachers (and the rest of us as well!)

October 20, 2010

“Expound the law truly, and open the veil of Moses, to condemn all flesh, and prove all men sinners, and all deeds under the law, before mercy have taken away the condemnation thereof, to be sin, and damnable; and then as a faithful minister, set abroach the mercy of our Lord Jesus, and let the wounded consciences drink of the water of him. And then shall your preaching be with power, and not as the hypocrites. And the Spirit of God shall work with you; and all consciences shall bear record unto you, and feel that it is so. And all doctrine that casteth a mist on these two, to shadow and hide them, I mean the law of God, and mercy of Christ, that resist you with all your power.”

I recently came across this quote from the English Reformer William Tyndale, and I was moved by the clear and convicting thesis: we must teach the law of God fully (to expose the sinful) and we must teach the mercy of Christ fully (to heal the repentent).

Inevitably, when I hear a sermon or a testimony that omits or dilutes one or the other of these two doctrines, heresy follows close behind. And, no, that is not too strong a word. If the grace of God is offered to or “accepted” by a person with no real sense of their sinfulness and enmity against a holy God, it is cheap grace only, and cheap grace does not save. If the law of God is proclaimed to the exclusion of the grace available for all who thirst for it, the convicted hearer will depart shamed into believing that God’s forgiveness must be earned through penitential deeds. Both extremes are heresy indeed. Cheap grace denies the weight of the Cross; legalism denies its power.

So, whether from a pulpit or over a water-cooler, remember that the Gospel is not just, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” Nor is it, “Thou shalt not…” The Gospel is the presentation of both the law of God and the grace of God. The one drives us to our knees; the other drives us to our Savior.

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