"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves;
but our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made us able ministers of the New
Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the
spirit giveth life."
The apostle speaks of this apostolic activity. Preachers of this Christian era must bear in mind that they are preachers, not of the Old Covenant, but of the New. That is the reason why the apostle refers to the letter, that is, the Law, which kills, and to the spirit, this is, the Gospel, which gives life. A New Testament preacher as such has to preach nothing less than the Gospel. He is really discharging an alien function when he preaches the law. It is due to the horrible blindness that papists assert that in the Scriptures two doctrines must be distinguished, the old Law and the evangelical law. The latter term is self-contradiction. How can there be glad tidings in a law? Add to this that the Antichrist goes so far as to contend that the evangelical law is the more grievous of the two: for the Mosaic Law had been satisfied with external obedience, while the evangelical law lays its injunctions on men’s innermost heart." -C.W. Walther "Law and Gospel" Lecture 39
I remember reading Matthew after reading the Old Testament at Bible School and being horrified as I listened to Jesus and talked with my dad. I said to him "I was just getting used to the rigorousness of Jewish law - I could live with taht - but now Jesus is saying we have to be perfect and putting the heaviest yoke we've ever had on us", and I remember talking with Lance about the question: Didn't Jesus just make holiness harder for us, as God now judges everything according to the letter AND the spirit of the law? Oh anti-nomianism, how appealing you are sometimes. Until then, back to the rigorous rules of Rabbi Jesus 'be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect'
I think Walther's idea is neat but not backed up by scripture, the truth of the matter is that New Testament morality is a high bar, much higher than Old Testament. But I just like Walther's thoughts because being a Lutheran would be so easy - it's like the Utopia of religion, you don't have to do anything, you don't even have to be good and God still loves you, which sounds like a whole religion altogether. Didn't Luther say something about Religion and Gospel? ... ah nevermind, back to mass, rite of acceptance this week...