Part 7 of a series discussing C. F. W. Walther’s important treatise Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible.
The effects of the Gospel are entirely different in nature when compared to the Law. The Law, as we’ve discussed, breathes threats and does not give us any means by which to fulfill those demands.
The Gospel, as some of you will rightly point out, does demand faith. “Repent and believe the good news!” is indeed the way the Gospel is to be preached, for it is the very message the Lord Himself gave us to dispense.
The second component of this point, however, may have escaped the notice of some, so I’ll flesh it out here: The Gospel gives the very faith it demands. When we preach “Believe in Christ!”, God gives them faith through our preaching. It’s not, of course, the physical sound of the spoken word which saves…it’s the content of the preaching.
The Gospel doesn’t condemn or rebuke those who hear it. Rather, it takes all the terror, fear and anguish away from them, filling them with peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Think about the prodigal father: he lavishes his riches on his wayward son. In this same way, Christ has welcomed us, his wayward and hateful children, into His home where he eats with us and us with Him.
Furthermore, the Gospel never requires anything good from the person: not a good heart, not an improvement in behavior, not piety…not even love.