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God’s Word for You

Luke 16:16 everyone forces his way into it

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, October 19, 2018

16 “The Law and the Prophets were preached until John. Since then, the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.”

The Pharisees were accusing Jesus of doing away with the Law of Moses by his Gospel preaching. But they are both necessary. Without the Gospel of forgiveness, what is the Law of Moses? Nothing but a hammer, a besieging army, a machine gun. There is no resisting the relentless pounding of Law, which does nothing to save a man, but only condemns. The Law preaches: Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). On the other hand, without the proclamation of the Law, the Gospel seems like insanity and nonsense: a man was convicted over a religious dispute, found innocent by the highest court of the land, and executed as a criminal anyway.

Those who try to misuse the Law and Gospel confound their religion with impossible contradictions. No one can be saved through the Law. No one can be saved without the Gospel. The Gospel is only about salvation, not one bit about obedience. The Law is only about conviction, not one bit about rescue. But when they are preached together, so that we understand our guilty accusation under the Law, and we are set free by the “not guilty” verdict of God in the Gospel, we truly understand our place in God’s family and Jesus’ victory on our behalf. We are rescued, forgiven, and saved.

John the Baptist began the proclamation of the Gospel using the name of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). But the Gospel does not do away with the Law, it simply provides fallen, convicted, sinful mankind with the solution to the insoluble problem: We are guilty, but we are forgiven.

What does Jesus mean when he says, “Everyone forces his way into it”? Doesn’t the Christian enter into the kingdom of heaven by the grace of God? Yes, we do. But the journey there through this lifetime of temptation and sin means that we say “no” to sin again and again. We must drown the Old Adam every day, again and again, remembering our baptism and our Christian faith. If we don’t the Old Adam will wrestle us down and take control of our helpless human nature. If we turn away from Jesus, we are lost. And so the throngs of people pressing in to see the Messiah were “forcing their way in.” The devout believers in their homes and milk houses and fields who pray earnestly every day for God’s help in overcoming their temptations are “forcing their way in.” We awaken on Sunday morning and consider whether we want to go to church or get three more hours of sleep, and the Old Adam has us by the throat. But we “force our way in,” struggling to overcome the spiritual terrorism of Satan and we go. Sometimes not with a whole heart, sometimes not even with half a heart, but we go, and God blesses us. We are forced by the power of the Gospel in our hearts and our New Man responds to Jesus. Paul said, “By all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Do you consider yourself part of Paul’s “some”? Will you let the Old Rascal win, or will you let your New Man, bathed in the righteousness of Christ, work for your own benefit? You are saved, but strive to set an example with your life so that others are drawn to the cross along with you.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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