25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27 (ESV)
“Why does Paul always follow up gospel with admonitions then?” This is a question that often comes up today in the discussion of law and gospel sermons and the content of preaching. Sometimes the last word matters. And it is all too often that when a pastor emphasizes the gospel he is told he is a soft-antinomian, or just an antinomian. Which basically means he sees no purpose for the law and doesn’t think it should be preached to Christians. The argument that is most often brought up is the letters of Paul often turn to admonition at the end, paranesis, instruction in how a Christian is to live. And it is true that this holds a place. As I said in yesterday’s post, good works are informed by the law. They are, however, never motivated by the law. It seems Paul knows this all too well. He spends time on paranesis, but he ends with gospel here, praising God for the work he has done and will do.
My gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ. They are meant to be one in the same, the one modifying the other to explain what it is. Paul’s gospel, I like how he takes ownership of it, is the preaching of Jesus Christ. As he will say in 1 Cor. “I knew nothing among you but Jesus Christ and him crucified.” This is the central focus of Paul because he realizes that it is this that brings about the obedience of faith, that is the love of God.
I write this on Tuesday morning. Another milestone met in this journey. Four chapters are left until I finish the goal I set out for so many years ago. Four chapters in First Corinthians. But forgive me if I take Holy Week off from blogging here. I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and Easter.