Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Justification by grace through faith apart from the works of the law. This is the call of the Lutheran Reformation, articulated clearly for us in Romans 3:19-28.
Why is this such a big deal? Chiefly because it runs counter to all our natural inclinations. We want to think of ourselves as good people. Yet in verse 19 we read that God's law, in effect, tells us to be silent before God. In response to God's demands, every one of us fails. Every. Last. One. "Wait a minute," you say. "God wouldn't command something we aren't able to do. That would be cruel!" Or possibly the entire point of God's commands is to show us that we can't earn salvation on our own, that we stand accused of sin, and that we need a savior.
If we stop trying to justify ourselves, we are left with the only option being that of Abraham, who believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. If we stop trying to justify ourselves we see that the Lord is the one who justifies us. It is not by our imperfect obedience, but by Jesus' perfect obedience applied to us.
Paul makes this clear. In verse 22 it is God's righteousness, given through Jesus. In verse 24 it is a gift of God. In verse 25 it shows God's forbearance.
We can't boast in ourselves. Salvation, if it is from God, must be from Him as a gift, not as anything we earn. It's delivered by faith.
God's command, then, points us to our need for grace. That's Reformational thinking. No, rather, that's Christian thinking. We are saved by his grace as a free gift. Never by our works. May God be the one who justifies.
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