Genesis 4:1-8, Hebrews 11:4, 12:24, Matthew 23:35, Luke 11:51
When Jesus Christ died upon the cross, He became your substitute. He entered time and space to take your place. He died the death that you deserve. He made the perfect payment for your sins. He died in your place. He rose from the grave as a guarantee that you might have everlasting life with Him. Abel made his sacrifice by faith. In the same way, we accept Jesus’ death by faith and are declared right before God. St. Paul reminds us in Romans 3, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." We "are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood" (Vv.22,24)
God declares you to be not guilty and He also declares you to be righteous. He cancels the guilt of your sin and credits righteousness to you. No one lives a perfectly good, holy and righteous life. We are all sinners. Yet He declares everyone who puts his trust in Jesus to be not guilty and righteous. This declaration is valid because Christ died to pay the penalty for our and lived a life of perfect righteousness that can now be credited to us.
Although we clearly deserve to be pronounced guilty before God He declares you righteous because of the redemption, which comes to us through Jesus Christ. This is what prompted Able to offer an acceptable sacrifice, for he offered it by faith. God doesn’t need your good works, or your pious actions, or your money. Your neighbor, on the other hand, needs you. As we serve our neighbor, we serve in a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving. We act as God has acted for us. We show mercy as God has shown mercy. We forgive as God in Christ has forgiven.
Almighty God, Whom to know is everlasting life, grant us perfectly to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the way, the truth and the life, that following His steps we may steadfastly walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELS
Collect for a right knowledge of Christ Lutheran Service Book ©2006 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis