Thursday, March 4, 2021

298. Uses of the Law Hymn

Here's another hymn I've been meditating on for a couple of years. One reason I was interested in the subject was as a corrective against the gospel-reductionist tendencies of today's "radical Lutherans," which were the topic of discussion at a theological conference I attended in 2019. To unpack that briefly in lay terms, there's a school of thought within Lutheranism that emphasizes the freedom of the gospel to the point that it pushes the ongoing validity of God's law in Christians' lives out of the picture – along with various other things, such as the substitutionary aspect of Christ's atoning work and other crucial doctrinal distinctions. The tune, below, is one that I wrote way back in 1993 for a hymn on Micah 7, and is titled IRON HUB after a congregation my dad pastored when I was in high school and college.
Unchanging God, who from the start
Had neither flaw nor end nor part:
Your will, Your being, and Your name
Are, from all ages, still the same.
Therefore Your Law is never far
From manifesting who You are.

As we hold You in holy awe,
So must we also fear Your Law.
What You ordain is true and just:
It grinds all other laws to dust.
Were it not steady, sure and good,
How had we known You as we should?

Your Law accuses and condemns
All that from man's rebellion stems.
The purest saint will even find
Another law within his mind.
Your ministers are therefore sent
To call all people to repent.

Your Law protects the present age
From sinful nature's rampant rage.
On wickedness You set a bound
Lest, when You come, no faith be found.
For even those who own no Lord
May balk to risk men's lawful sword.

Your Law dwells in the soul reborn,
Whom You from bonds of sin have torn.
It leads us gently on our course,
As bit and bridle lead a horse;
It shows what You would have us do
As we draw nearer unto You.

Therefore, dear Lord, let none despise
What was and is good in Your eyes.
And though our works do not suffice,
Remind us that Christ's sacrifice
Accomplishes what from the start
You purposed in Your loving heart.

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