Doing Life Together

martin-luther-617287_1920“Linda, you go to church. Why are we seeing all these pictures of historical men and signs about the reformation? Is this some big deal?”

Actually, yes, It is a big deal in the Protestant church. Tuesday marks the 500th anniversary of when a young monk named Martin Luther helped spawn a 16th century political, cultural, intellectual and religious upheaval. He, along with other reformers of his day like John Calvin, challenged papal authority and questioned the Catholic Church’s defining of Christian practice. Luther posted his “95 Theses” on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. These were expressions of Luther’s deep concern with Church doctrine. He hoped for a debate as he thought what the Catholic Church was teaching (e.g., buying your way into heaven) was different than the teachings of Christ.

Now, I am not a theologian and I don’t play one on TV, so I simply want to give you my take on why we should care about what happened 500 years ago. How is it relevant today?

The heart of our personal relationship with God is the doctrine of being justified by faith alone. Man is not reconciled to God by any of man’s efforts. Salvation comes though faith, not works. Psalm 130: 3 & 4 say, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.”

In other words, we are sinners and without Christ, we would not be able to stand before God. Christ paid the price for our sins to make us the righteousness of God. Because of Christ, the verdict on us as sinners is not guilty. Someone (Christ) justified us. And this happens by faith alone. A holy God gives guilty or sinful man a verdict of innocent. When we receive Christ (salvation), it is His work on the cross that justifies us, not our own. This is grace. We cannot live a life acceptable to God–nothing we do makes us worthy enough to earn our salvation. 

The application? Stop trying to work your way in to being a good Christian! Turn from your self-trust to trust in God. What a difference that would make in our lives. No more striving No more working for His acceptance.

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and predestined us through adoption (Ephesians 1:5).  He first loved us. We are not the starting point of love. We are to turn from trusting in our own effort. Rather, trust Him, through Christ alone. When we understand that we are justified by faith through Christ alone, it takes away all  self-effort. It causes us to rest in Him and be thankful for His grace. No matter “how good you are,” you can’t work your way into heaven or stay away from sin. We are justified by faith alone through Christ.

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