A Note from Pastor Rall: Reformation Truths

The Epistle reading for the celebration of Reformation, Romans 3:19-28, is a powerful summary of the very heart of the message of the reformers.  It contains some concepts that are basic to understanding the whole letter to the Romans and are essential to the faith we share as Lutheran Christians.

These concepts:  sin, law, righteousness, faith, grace, and justified were the keys to restoring the clear Gospel to the Church and are no less important for us today.  Many people today might think of “justify” as a way of explaining or excusing what we have done.  But St. Paul knew that there was no way for us to justify ourselves before a holy God.  We have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.  Nothing we can say or do can appease the wrath of God.  The Law has a way of stopping every mouth of trying to make a defense.  We are all guilty and deserving of “temporal and eternal death”.

But in Jesus a righteousness has been revealed that comes to us by faith in what He has done.  This righteousness is a gift of God’s grace to us through faith in Jesus.  It has nothing to do with works of the law.  Jesus has accomplished everything necessary for our salvation.  Whenever we think or act as if we need to do something to merit God’s grace, forgiveness, or the gift of salvation, we are, in effect, diminishing the work of salvation.  Jesus died for us, as if we had to add something to His work which is incomplete.  His cry from the cross, “It is finished”, is the assurance that salvation for all has been secured.  It is His gift to us to be received by faith.

That faith which receives and treasures His gift is also God’s work in us.  It too is God’s gift to us who by nature are spiritually blind and dead.  The Holy Spirit creates faith in our hearts through the Gospel message.  So there is nothing for us to boast about.  Salvation is God’s gift, His work, from beginning to end.  We can only boast about God’s love, His faithfulness, His grace, and His forgiveness in Jesus our Savior.

Pastor Rall