Homiletics 2 File 11 Professor Carl Fickenscher II Question by: Nick >> NICK: Oh, I get it. In other words, what you're saying is that the gospel has to win out. Is that right? >> PROF. FICKENSCHER: Absolutely. The gospel is always to be the final world. Walther concludes his entire series, actually, by making the gospel the final word in Thesis 25, and this, again, is where we are reminded that Walther had a very intentional series to develop, so he began with Thesis 1 and pointed ultimately to this. Thesis 25, his final thesis, says this: "In the 21st place, the word of God is not rightly divided when the person teaching it does not allow the gospel to have a general predominance in his teaching." Law must be preached, gospel must be preached, but they are not equal partners. Ultimately, the gospel is to win out. This is so evident by really so many passages of scripture from beginning to end, but particularly on the basis of the whole of scripture. I usually ask my students to think for a minute and see if they can prove to me, on the basis of the entire scriptures and I really don't mean particular passages, I mean the entirety of scripture, the whole 66 books that the gospel is to have a general predominance, the gospel is to win out in our preaching. How would you do that? Well, of course we could cite lots and lots of examples of how the apostles, in their missionary journeys, preached gospel. No question about that. We could see how God, again and again through the Old Testament, delivers his people from the perils in which they put themselves time and time again. We, of course, could see Christ coming to the world as the savior. All of those are true. But I would suggest that even the existence of the scriptures demonstrate to us that God intends our final message to be gospel overpowering the law. Think about this: When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden before the first sin, they had the run of the garden. They had all kinds of wonderful assurances and promises from God and a wonderful relationship with him with just that one caution, right? "If you eat of that tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you will surely die." Well, they did it. And as soon as Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they knew that there was one sentence for them. They were dead. That's why, when God came walking in the cool of the day to visit with them, they ran, they hid themselves. They were afraid, right? God did not have to say anything else to Adam and Eve to let them know their status now. They were dead. If God had never come to visit with them again, they'd simply die. If God at that moment of their eating of the tree withdraws from them all the blessings of air to breathe and food to eat and even life itself, they have no argument. It's exactly what they knew to be their sins, if they eat of the tree. But God does come again. He does communicate with them. He does not leave them with his final word, "and the day that you eat of it, you're dead." He comes, and of course he brings them to confession of sins, as much as they try to avoid that, and then you remember that magnificent promise that he gives when he speaks actually to the serpent, to the devil, and says, "I'll put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed. You will bruise, but he will crush your head." This is the moment at which God declares that Adam and Eve will no longer be together with the devil forever. They will eventually be at enmity with the devil, which means they will be back together with God. And then, through the entire history of scripture, God is making this thing happen. I would suggest that the very fact that God comes to them again and speaks to them that day in the garden, and then the fact that God continues to communicate with them throughout all of those centuries, through the coming of Christ, through the book of Revelation, shows us that God wanted the gospel to win out because, had God said nothing more after Adam and Eve sinned, the law would have said all it ever needed to say. The fact that God comes and speaks again, reestablishes that relationship, and continues to communicate with his people through holy scripture tells us that also in our preaching, the gospel is the ultimate purpose, the gospel is to win out. By the way, people often ask, does that mean that the gospel needs to have more quantity in a sermon than law? The answer is no. It's not so much a matter of quantity as it is of quality. It should certainly cause us caution if we have prepared our sermon, look at it again and find that it's 99% law with a little John 3:16 tacked on at the end. The point of the sermon is to be gospel and that perhaps takes a little more quantity than that. Sometimes it's true that a a full and thorough diagnosis of the problem with the law can then allow us to speak the gospel to that problem once it's been uncovered fully quite quickly. Ultimately, the point is that the gospel is the point. When the sermon is said and done, the hearer is to be left with the assurance that for all the things that have preceded, God continues to care for us, continues to reach out to us in Christ Jesus, continues to assure us of eternal life in Christ.