Luther’s “discovery” of the doctrine of justification is important in part because he was soul in crisis. He knew the guilt of his sins. In studying Scripture, Luther discovered the truth that salvation was not based on his good works. Instead, salvation was a matter of God declaring us righteous through Jesus Christ’s grace. If we would be right in the sight of God, we must trust in Christ alone, who took our curse away at the cross.
Luther said of justification, “Nothing in this article can be given up or compromised…On this article rests all that we teach…Therefore we must be quite certain and have no doubts about it. Otherwise all is lost.” Calvin said of justification that it “is the main hinge on which religion turns.” Jonathan Edwards said that, “the highest glory of the gospel and the delight of the Scriptures is this very doctrine of justification through the righteousness of Christ obtained by faith.” It’s hard to add anything to these remarks. The doctrine of justification is at the heart of authentic Christian theology and practice. Every generation of Christians must rise to articulate and defend it. The key truth of this sermon is that sinners are acceptable to God only because Christ bore their sin and gave them his righteousness. This Reformation Sunday, we try to understand justification by way of 3 important truths in this passage.
One of the key questions for Martin Luther and John Calvin was, how is a man right with God? That is, how can a man be justified in the sight of God? This was central for the Reformers. Their answer, which they took from Scripture, was absolutely right: men and women are justified by faith alone. We also affirm the doctrine of justification by faith alone, not because the Reformers taught it, but because, as they rightly rediscovered, the Bible teaches it. God’s Word teaches faith alone in many different places, but I’ve selected Paul’s words in Romans 3:21-26 to draw it out for us this morning.
We looked at the first four consequences of denying the resurrection of the dead last week They all point to the main point of vv. 11-19, that the doctrine of a bodily resurrection is absolutely essential to the Christian faith. Paul has been slowly building a chain of consequences, one upon another. Today we look at the final three consequences of denying this doctrine.