The past few days I was involved in the orientation of candidates for ordained ministry as they prepare to write their Candidature examination. I was assigned to speak on “What to Preach – Law or Grace”
Dr. Leonard Hulley, in his book, ‘Wesley – A Plain man for a plain people’, ascertain that ……; What is the law but divine wisdom and virtue assuming a visible form? What is it but the original ideas of truth and good, which were lodged in the uncreated mind from eternity, now drawn forth and clothed with such a vehicle as to appear even to human understanding? If we survey the law of God in another point of view, it is supreme, unchangeable reason; it is unaltered rectitude; it is everlasting fitness of all things that are or ever were created (Works V: 438). Hulley is saying that the law shows or reveals God’s wisdom and virtue, his understanding of truth and goodness in such a way that it can be grasped by human minds. So preaching the law means explaining and enforcing the commands of Christ, briefly comprised in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’.
However, preaching grace/gospel is proclaiming the love of God to sinners, preaching the life, death, resurrection, and intercession of Christ, with all the blessings which, in consequences thereof, are freely given to true believers. John Wesley used the law to challenge, probe and expose the shortcomings and sins of his hearers. He then offered them the possibility of repentance and the joyous experience of divine pardoning love. In essence, love is the fulfilling of the law. So, I ask of us all to hold the two in balance as to strive to together to be Christ-like.