October 30, 2016
O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom You have gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the grace of unity that, all schisms being ended, Your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Living by works or by faith that is the issue before Luther at the time of the Reformation in the 16th Century it is at issue for us today as we have now entered the 21st Century. The pressing issue facing Luther confronts us to this very hour. How do I get right with God?
1. The whole world is involved – Vv. 23-24 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. We find ourselves in the same boat – all of us. All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. Weighed on the balance of God’s scales we are found wanting. Asked to aim at the mark of God’s standard of perfection we miss it by a mile.
What is man to do? We fall into the hands of God. We are justified freely by His grace. This is the redemption found in Jesus Christ. How is this possible? Sinful man must be restored if he is to have any fellowship with God. He must be won back to God. We find it in that great exchange. Your life of misery and ruin is replaced with a life of perfection.
2. The whole world is accountable to God – V. 19 - Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
We are held accountable to God by means of the law. There is no room for excuses. We can’t blame anyone for our sin. We can’t blame duress, amnesia, or temporary insanity.
Of all the things we can claim for ourselves it is out sin which we uniquely own.
3. Inability of the law to reconcile – V. 20 - Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. The law always accuses. The law is constantly telling us where we have fallen short. The law, as a mirror, points us to our failures and our shortcomings. The law as a mirror reflects every imperfection, every flaw, every inadequacy. There is but one word for the law. It spells failure. And how do we react to this reality? We say, “Accept me for who I am.
Accept me, warts and all.” Which simply means, accept my sin, accept my behavior. Accept my failings. Accept my limitations. And if you can’t do that then look beyond my faults. But we can’t look beyond the imperfections of our sinful condition. Our sinfulness is like the 2,000-pound elephant someone left in the room. You can’t ignore him. He is there. He must be addressed.
Our sin will not go away by simply ignoring it. Our sin will not go away if and when we tolerate it. For sin to be eradicated from our lives we must first be reconciled to God and to our neighbor.
4. Reconciliation is a gift – V. 23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Notice how St. Paul explains these things. All have sinned. All have fallen short. None is righteous, no not one. Therefore, it is necessary that one man’s act of obedience would have to be sufficient for the benefit of all. This Christ has accomplished. This Christ achieved for you. This happened in time and space on a hill called Golgotha when Christ died for all sin.
5. Gift made possible by grace – Vv. 24-25 - and 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. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
Since Christ has made atonement for all sin there is nothing standing in the way between you and God. There is free access to God’s mercies and blessings. You have free access to the Father of mercies. You did not work for it. You did not earn it. You are certainly not entitled. It’s a gift. Freely given - for you. This is mercy clearly defined. This is pardon expressed and given. This is forgiveness offered for you.
6. Necessity of faith to appropriate the gift – V. 28 - For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
The old song sings, Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone who did for all the world atone, He is our one redeemer. God is completely responsible for our salvation from front to back! We don’t one day decide to follow Jesus – He plants the seed of faith in our heart. He then nourishes that faith by giving us His eternal Word which is able to make us wise unto salvation.
That seed of faith is demonstrated by how we live and treat one another. You have been redeemed by Christ and Christ alone. Celebrate your redemption. But do not keep it only for yourself. Reach out to someone and influence their life. Live as a redeemed child of God. Reflect the compassion of Christ in your daily living.
Luther Seal © Ed Riojas of Higher Things
Passive Sentences – 10%
Reading Ease – 79.7
Reading Level - 4.8