The Reformation Heritage Lecture Series was in the Graebner Memorial Chapel on Tuesday, February 7, 2017. The guest speaker was Dr. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, presenting “Remaking the World with Law and Gospel.” Dr. Hinlicky began her speech by sharing her weird hobby of finding people’s bad habit of confusing Law and Gospel. She knew that this was not an exciting topic for most of us, but explained that it was important for all to understand so we could get closer to God. Her main point was to eliminate confusion of what is and what is not Law. She laid out her lecture in this manner, starting with Luther’s new found love of the New and Old Testaments and how he saw the Gospel throughout the whole Bible. If Luther had not found grace in the Old Testament, he would not have loved it so much and set out to make a positive impact on the Old Testament, so Christians would read it rather than avoiding it because of the rules. Dr. Hinlicky emphasized that the Law is not just a system of rules, but how God wishes His people to live with others — in peace and love. The Law is not just what we ought to do, but what God does. One statement that stuck with me was, “A world without Law is chaos. A Lawless world equals a loveless God.” Law judges what we cannot do, but the Old Testament contains a promise of a Savior.
Dr. Hinlicky transitioned to the message of the Gospel in the New Testament. She explained the false ideas that some Christians accept such as, “once the Gospel is present there is no need for Law.” Wrong! The Gospel is not about us, but what Christ did for us. All Christians must recognize Christ both as a freely given gift, and as our example to exercise His Word. Using Christ as an example causes us to love others in the same way. The link between the Law and Gospel is Christ. Christ showed us Law through His actions of love to others. It is easier to show someone love than to tell them love. One other misconception Christians are confused with are the roles in the Trinity. Some believe the Father is full of wrath, while the loving Son yields the Gospel, but this is wrong also. God does not fight against His Son; He works with His Son in a way called “Wrath Loving.” The Father gives creation, the Son works, and the Holy Spirit gives gifts and is poured out on us — a passionate heart.
As Dr. Hinlicky wrapped up her speech, she reminded us first that we cannot forgive others until we know how God forgives us through the work of Christ’s death and resurrection, and second, vast mercy is veiled to us, until we know the vast law. Third, she reminded us that we do not live lawlessly, but the Grace of God and the Gospel is written into the heart of God’s Law. Just as Luther saw it when he learned the Good News of Christ as Savior and gained human comprehension of a loving God.
Today, America has found others to not be acceptable for this country. As Christians we must remember that Christ was once a refugee. He used the parable of the Good Samaritan, a foreigner, as an example to show that it is not a matter of prejudging, but to help understand how unworthy everyone is of grace and yet Christ still provides it for us. In Honors 120 we learn that the best way to understand another person’s culture, background, and support their situation is to listen. As Christians, we are called to love one another and use Christ as our example, who was once a refugee. As individuals in the Honors class, we may not know what it is like to be a refugee, but we can still act in love by not prejudging others, listening to them, and continuing to dive into God’s Word to find answers.
The one sentence I will take away is, “A lawless world equals a loveless God.” I find this very true, especially after this lecture. God does not give us the Law to just tell us what we ought not to do, but remind us what God does for His people and how He wants us to live with others–in peace and love. If God did not love us He would not have given us the Law or sent the Gospel of Christ as the perfect example, who followed the Law by acting in love with others.