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Saturday, October 7, 2017

“Martin Luther: Justified by Faith”

Romans 5:12-21

This is one of the most inspiring texts in the whole Bible.  Paul here continues his summary of God’s plan of salvation.  He goers all the way back to the origin of sin and death.  Adam represents humanity in sin, in rebellion against God.  Paul speaks of death coming into the world through sin and even long before God’s law was given “death exercised dominion.”   This was the tragedy of the human race.  Made in the image of God, in his goodness, humanity nonetheless chose to follow its own will rather than God’s.  The temptation to be “like God” was too hard to resist (Gen. 3:4).

The offense was great. It shut off the relationship between God and humanity and placed the human race under the dominion of death.  Behind this lay the presence of Satan, evil itself.  There was nothing humanity could do to restore itself. Searching for God but not finding him the world plunged into idolatry (Rom. 1:18-23). However, God entered into the picture.  God provided salvation as a free gift of grace, his mercy and goodness. The free gift was far greater than the one original sin.  Adam’s (symbolically humanity’s) offense brought condemnation for all.  Yet Christ’s one act of obedience in going to the cross was “much more” than the power of sin.  Jesus’ act of righteousness “leads to justification and life for all.”  This is received through God’s gift of faith.

The law could only make sin obvious.  It defined sin through its commandments (“thou shalt not steal, murder, commit adultery, bear false witness”, etc.). Yet humanity failed to keep those commandments (as we all know too well).  But God’s grace intervened. Sin, Death and Satan in all their furious power were no match for God’s grace. Paul concludes with this ringing statement “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” This is our justification.  It is our promise of eternal life.

Most merciful God I thank you for your abundant gift of grace.  May I live joyfully and hopefully in that gift.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.