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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Luther for the Armchair Theologian - Chapter 3

Justification by Faith Alone

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God ; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:20-27)

Paul’s language here makes absolutely no sense whatsoever if we do not understand what He means by “the righteousness of God.” If we think that this is referring to God’s inherent righteousness that we are called to live up to, how can this be effected one way or another by our faith? Is God more or less righteous because we believe?  Certainly not!  No. The righteousness of God is not what God is but what God gives. This is the righteousness which God gives to us by Christ who gives us His Spirit who gives us faith.

This is the heart of the Gospel. This is God’s good news to man. This is the righteousness which those who reject Jesus miss out on. Paul makes it plain in the tenth chapter of this same book. “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness , have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3)

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