Righteous

July 8, 2013 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


Crucifixion 1This weekend in worship and ABC, we learned about the doctrine of justification which teaches that our righteousness before God is not a product of ourselves and our works; rather, it is a free gift from God, given to us by the work of Christ on the cross.  As the apostle Paul writes, “[We] are justified freely by [God’s] grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

Throughout the history of the Church, some have tried to undercut this doctrine of God’s work with human works.  The Pelagians, for instance, taught that by obeying God’s commands, people could gain favor in God’s sight.  The Synergists taught that justification was not a gift of God’s righteousness exclusively, but a comingling of God’s righteousness with human righteousness.  In the face of such unbiblical teachings, Martin Luther offers this important reflection on justification as God’s work and not as ours:

The world wants to win heaven from our Lord God by right, although He is causing the message to be proclaimed aloud throughout the world that He wants to give it to us for nothing.  He says:  “I want to be your God; out of grace and for nothing I want to save you … I will not let you win heaven from Me.  Therefore make no other gods, do not invent things that you do for yourself … Do not begin with your good works; allow Me to have mercy on you.”  It certainly is a shame that people must accuse us being unwilling to accept heaven for nothing, nay, of actually wanting to earn it and of proposing to give to God, to Him who desires to offer everything to us in plenty.  Such fools are we:  we want to give what we ought to take.[1]

We bring nothing to our righteous standing before God – no good work, no pious thought, no warm heart.  Instead, God supplies any and all righteousness we need through His Son.  This is the doctrine of justification.  This is the promise of the gospel.  And this is the cornerstone of our faith.

May we never seek to add our works to God’s work.  After all, it is God’s work – and His work alone – that saves us.


[1] Martin Luther, What Luther Says, Ewald M. Plass, comp. (St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1959), §2207.

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