It's only painfully confusing if you believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and have to reconcile it in your own mind. Then it does get very painful, based on my own experience.Mountaineer wrote: ↑Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:21 amThere are two basic themes in Holy Scripture. One is called the Law and one is called the Gospel. Both are from God and both are holy, both are necessary, and both are needed. The Law always focuses on the action or inaction of a person. It makes demands in the form of commands regarding what to do and prohibitions regarding what not to do. The Law reveals the problem of sin. The Gospel always focuses on the action of God to save us through His Son, Jesus Christ. It makes no demands upon us whatsoever, but showers blessings upon us. It is a happy proclamation of what God freely gives us through Jesus. Jesus does all the work; we do none of it. Instead of giving commandments and prohibitions, the Gospel gives promises and assurances.
The problem is that many Christians are not aware of the distinction, and as a result, they painfully confuse God’s Word. If the difference between Law and Gospel is unknown, then the Scriptures appear to be full of contradictions. If the difference, however, is known, then the relationship becomes elegant, exciting, and powerful. If people don’t think they have a problem, then they will never be interested in a solution. God’s Law is designed to be used by the Holy Spirit to convince people they have a problem. However, no one can convince others they need to confess their sin to God and seek God’s help for their problem of sin. This is something God Himself must do. He uses means to do that: proclamation of the Word via hearing and reading Scripture, baptism (water plus Word) gives the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s Supper (bread and wine plus Word) gives us Christ Himself, and Confession and Absolution assures us our sins are forgiven. Christians must wait on the Holy Spirit to work when and where He pleases to work in the hearts of people as only He can. This does not contradict that God desires all people to be saved; it reminds us that the timing for when faith comes is always in the hands of God.
For example, an unbeliever might try reading the gospel of Matthew and then turn over to the epistles of Paul and wonder why he never read the book, since the teachings of Jesus about keeping the law seem to directly refute him on the subject.
It's actually pretty simple to reconcile if you look at it from a human perspective. Paul, indeed, did not read the gospel of Matthew or any of the others since they were all written well after his ministry. If he was aware of anything that Jesus was actually supposed to have said, he doesn't mention it in any of his writings. And as for seeming to directly refute a lot of Pauline Christianity, Matthew appears to be a rewrite of Mark to make Jesus more thoroughly Jewish and that is probably exactly what the author intended. Some of the passages in the Sermon on the Mount seem to be specifically referring to the Pauline Christians with whom the early Jewish sects were in conflict. That conflict was quite real in the early church based on what little we know of the competing sects and it's also pretty obvious in the N.T. although glossed over in places ( I also believe "Balaam" in the book of Revelations is most likely referring to Paul, telling you what a lot of early Christians really felt about him).
It could be that God intended for the guiding hand of the church to come along and sort out the mess and give us what would eventually become orthodox Christianity. The argument against that is the fact that Christians still can't agree on the subject.