When Justification Isn’t Enough


Devotional/Discussion Thought fo the Day:

7  I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Romans 1:7 (NLT)

7  I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Romans 1:7 (NLT)

1  This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of his holy people throughout Greece.
2 Corinthians 1:1 (NLT)

1  This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 2  God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (NLT)

356      The first Apostles, when Our Lord called them, were by the side of an old boat busy mending the torn nets. Our Lord told them to follow him and statim—immediately—relictis omnibus—they left everything—everything! And followed him… And it does happen sometimes that we, who wish to imitate them, don’t quite leave everything, and there remains some attachment in our heart, something wrong in our life which we’re not willing to break with and offer up to God. Won’t you examine your heart in depth? Nothing should remain there except what is his. If not, we aren’t really loving him, neither you nor I. (1)

In Lutheran Theology, the Article of Justification has a primary place. Indeed, some call it the chief article of the faith.  But that doesn’t mean that it is the only article of the faith

It is a genesis point, a point of beginning, and God’s declaration of our righteousness is something that continues in our life.  It is hearing this declaration that enabled the disciples to walk away from family and work, and follow Jesus.  His call to them, even as He calls us. But even in Luther’s explanation of the Creed we see that it is a beginning point, that God works something more in us.

But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.  (2)

It is work, the enlightenment, the sanctification and preservation that brings Paul and Peter to describe the people of God as holy, as saints (the same thing in Greek)   Were they perfect from our perspective?  No, but God was sanctifying them, and creating in them a perfection that no one can deny.  

While we don’t make ourselves holy, there is the nature of self-examination that helps us realizing that the Holy Spirit is at work.  As the Spirit confronts us, illuminates those things which our heart could easily turn into our idols.  It might not be something that people would normally think of as an idol, but what do we trust in, what can we not live without.  Where does our hope balance upon, and if that is threatened, we react strongly, even vehemently, to protect it. Do we believe something may make a difference, that only it can make a difference?  Then we have made a god and idol and given it a place in our heart that need be reserved for God.

And it is as we examine our conscience, as we look for that which is not set apart from God, that we can cry out like the blind man, “Lord have mercy!”, “Lord, Son of David, Heal me!”

Faith is the confidence it takes to ask God to remove it, to remove that which mars the holiness He has declared to be true.  Faith means we depend on the Holy Spirit to create in us the repentant spirit that is part and parcel of our being declared righteous, being declared justified.  Faith realizes that we’ve been united, that we are in communion with Jesus.  That his incredible union, our baptismal gift from God, is strengthened as we spend sacred time,  participating in the sacrament of the Eucharist, hearing we are absolved of our sin, reading and hearing scriptures and meditating on all these things.

This is our life saints… to cry out for mercy, and to trust God as He purifies our lives, a work that is brought to completion in the day of Christ.

Justification is primary, yes, as in the beginning.  It is not all the work of God in our lives, just that which begins and makes the rest possible including the amazing fact that we can love God, and He would know that love.  For this purpose we have been created… to love our God, and to know His love for us, His people.

AMEN!

 

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1406-1412). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2) Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 345). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on June 25, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, The Forge, Theology in Practice and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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