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Romans

3:19-28

 

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

 

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

 

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 
(ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finishability

Tuesday of Reformation

29 October 2013

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal an editorial reported on the penchant of people today to get their news from the internet. L. Gordon Crovitz ["@Cicero Would Have Loved Twitter," WSJ (28 October 2013), A13] suggested that getting news from social networking sources, such as Facebook and Twitter, was simply returning to the method of news sharing and gathering that was used before the invention of the mass media, such as newspapers, TV, and radio. The social media are simply more powerful forms of "word-of-mouth" reporting. The ancients all had "correspondents," people to whom they wrote and upon whom they depended for the transmission of the news of the day. Newspapers turned this into a professional cadre by paying for the transmissions and printing them in the pages of a newspaper. Before the printing press, the letters of people like the Roman advocate, Cicero, were copied and shared with people who wanted to know the news. Crovitz cites one of the unintended benefits of the old media, such as newspapers; finishability. What he means is that you can sit down and read the daily paper, and after finishing it you can reasonably say you know the news of the day.

 

Browsing the web, by contrast, is a never ending resource. Its information is unconquerable because it is so massive and is constantly changing. There is no finishability. Of course, as we also know trustworthy sources are hard to ferret out of the avalanche of information that our electronic devices pour out. Along with finishability, resources that carry with them a trustworthy reputation, like the old BBC had during WW II, mean that people will seek them out. We can become weary of trying to sort through the less reputable and the unending reporting available through social media. Personally, I get tired of surfing the internet for news, because there is so much sludge out there. It is easier to trust one quality source.

 

Finishability is also a benefit to the Christian. We often feel suspended between God and man, between good works and the world's wickedness, between the law and our own spiritual incompetence. Don't you ever tire of the fight? I certainly do. What then? The battle between the law and our own intransigent, fallen nature is a never ending battle. It will be until we draw our last ragged breath. How do we find finishability? We will not find it in ourselves (2Co 7:5). Finishability comes from an external, reliable source: Christ, God's eternal Son, through whom we are declared just in God's sight. Here is true rest for the troubled soul. Stop wrestling. Stop fighting. Stop striving. Let everything be about Christ. He has put a finish to the warfare within and without by His victory over our sin and death. We should become weary of our own righteousness, which is nothing but filth tarted up with our own perverse piety. The never ending struggle only comes to an end in Christ. Christ is the true and truthful finisher. He has said: "It is finished," on the cross and that is an end to your sin. That's what I call finishability.

 

Martin Luther

 

"I should like to know whether your soul, tired of its own righteousness, is learning to be revived by and to trust in the righteousness of Christ. For in our day, the temptation to presumption afflicts many people, especially those who try with all their might to be just and good without knowing the righteousness of God, which is most bountifully and freely given to us in Christ. They try to do good by themselves in order that they might stand before God clothed in their own virtues and merits. But this is impossible. While you were here [in Wittenberg], you were one who held this opinion, or rather, error. So was I, and I am still fighting against the error without having conquered it as yet.

 

"Therefore, my dear Brother, learn Christ and him crucified. Learn to praise him and, despairing of yourself, say, 'Lord Jesus, You are my righteousness, just as I am Your sin. You have taken upon Yourself what is mine and have given to me what is Yours. You have taken upon Yourself what you were not and have given to me what I was not.' Beware of aspiring to such purity that you will not wish to be looked upon as a sinner, or to be one. For Christ dwells only in sinners. On this account He descended from heaven, where He dwelt among the righteous, to dwell among sinners. Meditate on this love of his and you will see His sweet consolation. For why was it necessary for Him to die if we could obtain a good conscience by our own works and afflictions? Accordingly you will find peace only in Him and only when you despair of yourself and your own works. Besides, you will learn from Him that just as He has received you, so He has made your sins His own and has made His righteousness yours." 

 

Martin Luther, 
Letter to George Spenlein, 8 April 1516
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, you have made an end to our sin by taking it into your own holy person. Help us to live in peace through your merits. Send Your Spirit, that we might put an end to all our struggles, leaving all in Your nail-scarred hands. Amen.

 

For Diane Garner, who is gravely ill, that the Lord Jesus Christ would be her comfort and strength

 

For Pastor Sagar Pilli, that the Lord Jesus Christ would be with him in his labor to proclaim Christ to the nations

 

For the call committee of Memorial Lutheran Church, that they may be endowed with wisdom from on high as they seek God's man for the position of Associate Pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church
Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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