One of the Lutheran Confessional documents (The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, written in 1531) states that “All Scripture should be divided into these two main topics: the law and the promises” (Apology, Article IV).
The phrase “law and promise” adds an important emphasis to the more commonly heard phrase “law and gospel.” The word “promise” makes it clear that gospel is not simply about content: the story of Jesus. A promise is an interpersonal communication, and what it communicates is a commitment. Laws, by definition, require something from us, while a promise offers something to us.
Of course, most of us have experience with broken promises. Sometimes others fail to keep their promises to us. Sometimes we are the ones who fail to keep the promises we have made. Maybe we are even tempted sometimes not to trust but to think there’s something we need to do to make God love us. In these “too good to be true” moments, we can trust that God is the one who can and does keep promises!
This message is excerpted from the Bible study “Galatians: Christian Faith and Christian Freedom” by Kathryn A. Kleinhans in the January/February 2017 Gather magazine. Today we commemorate Henry, Bishop of Uppsala, martyr, 1156.
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