“Give diligence to present yourself approved by God, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed, properly handling the Word of Truth.”
Properly handling the many ways words can be used is among the greatest of human responsibilities. And among these, none is more important, more crucial, than the proper handling of God’s word. For many Christians, the right tool for the proper handling of God’s Word is learning to distinguish between Law and gospel.
Law words properly handle God’s concern for justice, righteousness, holiness. Jesus used law words. Sometimes God has to use them on you. Law words say things like, “No more games. No more lies. No more nonsense. Stop! Turn around! Knock it off!” Law words confront us with the fact that innocence is no longer possible. Law words show us our need for a Savior. Sometimes, taking care of God means using law words.
Gospel words are the other side of law words, like a coin. Gospel words properly handle the forgiveness of sins. Jesus called them ‘keys’. Their main job is to open, not close. Gospel words give access, permission, promise, freedom. Gospel words say things like,”Your sins are forgiven. Yes, you may. You are loved. Grace is for you, too. This is my body and blood, for you. God works everything for good. Christ Jesus will raise you from the dead.” Gospel words give us the savior we need.
When the Church struggles with itself over which words to use as we seek to properly handle the faith, this should neither surprise or dismay us. After all, if a surgeon takes care to use the right instrument in order to ‘properly handle’ a critical procedure, and if a master carpenter makes the effort to insure that his blades are properly sharpened before carving the wood, how much more ought the people of God be attentive to the proper handling of the Word of God?
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”