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Romans

4:1-12

 

What then shall we say was gained byAbraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."

 

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.(ESV)

 

I Reckon He's Right

Monday of Lent 1

10 March 2014

Thinking does not make things so. Humans sometimes think that they can think their way into prosperity, health, or a good life. Our thinking is futile when it is not illuminated by the gifts of God in His holy Word, which grants us the life-giving Spirit. The only thinking that makes so, is the thinking of God. This is why we sing the hymn, "Lord Jesus, Think on Me" (LSB, 610). His consideration of me is a knowledge with affect and effect. It is not merely a "thinking about," like our thinking. His thinking is a "thinking to be." His knowing has great and powerful results: "By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities" (Is 53:11). He thinks about us passionately and His thinking always issues in results. How much more passionate could anyone get than accept the passion of the cross? His desire for us and His work for us come together at the cross; He dies for those whom He loves.

 

We find it deeply comforting when we are sick or in trouble to have someone say, "I was thinking of you and praying for you." Just knowing that we are in the mind of someone who loves us is a great blessing. While their prayer for us is appreciated, ultimately their thinking about us can't do anything. Only God's thinking is able to accomplish anything, so it should be all the more comforting to us that the Lord Jesus has us, every one, in His mind. He is always thinking on us with that driving passion for us. When He was on the cross He thought longingly about me, my sin, and my redemption from that sin, just as He saw to it that He did what was required for my salvation.

 

Our knowing doesn't do much, does it? Christ's does everything. It has to be that way because human efforts to know or seek God have not worked out very well over the centuries. He must seek and know us, if we are to be saved. Many think they know God, but they are darkened in their own minds, and cannot possibly know God as He wants to be known in Christ. This is why His knowing of us so that we are accounted righteous by Him is so pivotal to the Christian faith and teaching. Accounting is a kind of thinking, like the archaic English of "reckoning." Many English Bible translations speak of God "counting righteous." God's work is to think everything different for us. I reckon He is right when He counts us righteous in His sight.

 

Augustine of Hippo

 

"We are assisted by divine aid towards the achievement of righteousness, not merely in that God has given us a law full of good and holy precepts, but because our very will, without which we cannot do any good thing, is assisted and elevated by the giving of the Spirit of grace, without which there is a teaching that 'the letter kills' (2Co 3:6), because it holds them guilty of transgression, rather than justifying the ungodly. Now just as those who come to know the Creator through the creature received no benefit towards salvation from their knowledge, because 'Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.' (Rm 1:21) so also those who know from the law how man ought to live are not made righteous by their thinking because, 'being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness' (Rm 10:3)."

 

Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter, 20

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, think on me and purge away my sin; From worldly passions set me free and make me pure within. Lord Jesus, think on me, by anxious thoughts oppressed;

Let me Your loving servant be and taste Your promised rest. Lord Jesus, think on me amid the battle's strife;In all my pain and misery, O be my health and life! Amen. (LSB 610, 1-3)

 

For Susan Hyder, as she mourns the death of her father, that the Lord would send her strength for every day

 

For Gisela Roaché, who has cancer, that the Lord Jesus would give her strength and healing

 

For B.J. Hall, that the Lord would be with her as she undergoes therapy for cancer 

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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