STATEMENT OF THE CONTROVERSY & CLARIFICATION OF TERMS
1] The distinction between the Law and the Gospel is a particularly brilliant light. It serves the purpose of rightly dividing God's Word (2 Timothy 2:15) and properly explaining and understanding the Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles. We must guard this distinction with special care, so that these two doctrines may not be mixed with each other, or a law be made out of the Gospel. When that happens, Christ's merit is hidden and troubled consciences are robbed of comfort, which they otherwise have in the Holy Gospel when it is preached genuinely and purely. For by the Gospel they can support themselves in their most difficult trials against the Law's terrors. . . .
3] . . . we note . . . : the term Gospel is not always used and understood in one and the same sense. It is used in two ways in the Holy Scriptures and also by ancient and modern Church teachers. 4] Sometimes it is used to mean the entire doctrine of Christ, our Lord, which He proclaimed in His ministry on earth and commanded to be proclaimed in the New Testament. Therefore, this includes the explanation of the Law and the proclamation of the favor and grace of God His heavenly Father. For it is written, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1). And shortly afterward the chief points are stated: Repentance and forgiveness of sins. So when Christ after His resurrection commanded the apostles to "proclaim the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15), He compressed the sum of this doctrine into a few words. He also said, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations" (Luke 24:46-47). Paul, too, calls his entire doctrine the Gospel (Acts 20:21). He summarizes this doctrine under two points: Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 5] In this sense, the general definition of the word Gospel, when used in a wide sense and without the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel, is correctly said to be a preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. For John, Christ, and the apostles began their preaching with repentance and explained and taught not only the gracious promise of the forgiveness of sins, but also God's Law. 6] Furthermore the term Gospel is used in another way. In its proper sense, Gospel does not mean the preaching of repentance, but only the preaching of God's grace. This follows directly after the preaching of repentance, as Christ says, "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15).
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.
Lord grant you faith in His grace alone for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen