Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Reformation Day!

In celebration of Reformation Day (October 31, 1517, was when Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses to the cathedral door in Wittenberg), I thought a few quotes celebrating the greatness of justification by faith alone apart from works would be apropos.

Now when a man has learned through the commandments to recognize his helplessness and is distressed about how he might satisfy the law—since the law must be fulfilled so that not a jot or tittle shall be lost, otherwise man will be condemned without hope—then, being truly humbled and reduced to nothing in his own eyes, he finds in himself nothing whereby he may be justified or saved. Here the second part of Scripture comes to our aid, namely, the promises of God which declare the glory of God, saying, “If you wish to fulfill the law and not covet, as the law commands, come, believe in Christ in whom grace, righteousness, peace, liberty, and all things are promised you. If you believe, you shall have all things; if you do not believe, you shall lack all things.” That which is impossible for you to accomplish by trying to fulfill all the works of the law—many and useless as they all are—you will accomplish quickly and easily through faith.
– Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty

It is clear that the justification which is unto eternal life Paul regards as consisting in our being constituted righteous, in receiving righteousness as a free gift, and this righteousness is none other than the righteousness of the one man Jesus Christ; it is the righteousness of his obedience. . . . Justification is thereby a constitutive act whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed to our account and we are accordingly accepted as righteous in God’s sight.

– John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied

The specific quality of faith is that it receives and rests upon another, in this case Christ and his righteousness.

– Murray, Ibid.


Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

continuing to pray and looking forward to your visit

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

a blog entry (November 14th) you may be interested in.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Good quote.

Our denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church is Lutheran in its roots, being in the free church that broke away from the state church in Norway/Scandanavia. I really feel at home there. And I'm astounded at some of Luther's quotes.

I'm skeptical that most Jews ever lived like they had to keep the entire law or be condemned, a kind of Pelagius/Augustine controversy which is itself important to our faith. The Jews had the sacrificial system for sins.

But inherent in the whole matter is that something through someone had to be done, since this old covenant was not the end all. It was pointing to the One through whom we could be justified by faith, the Torah having run its course for what it was here for. Though it continues in the new dynamic in Jesus, of course in a different way.

I do need to read more of Luther and the Reformers. I love Timothy George's book, The Theology of the Reformers. Great read and helps us understand them and their world, and I think their ongoing significance for us today.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I meant to include the thought that somehow in God's will, sin had to be dealt with beyond just animial sacrifices. And we know the Lamb of God satisfied that need for us.