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Psalm 130

 

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (ESV)

 

No Other Salvation

Tuesday of Lent 3

10 March 2015

The law cannot assure to us our inheritance. For those who live in the law and by the law will always come under its wrath and will be among those who are cursed by it. Our inheritance only comes to us through faith in the promise. The testator, God, has made the promise to His offspring by faith. If some wealthy person puts me in their will for a considerable sum of money, I will inherit it not because I have worked for it, but because his will promises it to me. The testator has worked for what he is bequeathing to his heirs. Even a human last will and testament seldom imposes conditions on those who are inheriting the estate, certainly the divine will is absolutely a matter a promise. God grants us His gifts by grace.

 

So to return to the law to become right in the sight of God is to retreat from the promise of the gospel to the tyranny of the law with it demands and curses. Paul champions salvation through faith because the law brings wrath. Faith receives all, because it is promised by God. Through the promise the inheritance is made entirely sure, because it depends on the One who promises, not the one who receives the promise. Notice also that Paul thinks that under the gospel there is no law and therefore no transgression. It is pretty revolutionary stuff to say that there is no law!

 

If we return to the law for righteousness in the sight of God we will make the promise of no effect. The promise must be received without the spurious claim to our own piety and holiness, for this is the opposite of trusting the promise. The promise can never be a matter of our own merit, but must be about God's grace. There is no other way of being saved.

 

John Chrysostom

 

 "'That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring' (Rm 4:16). It is not the law only that faith establishes, but the promise of God also it will not allow to fall. On the other hand, the law by being held to now at the wrong time, makes even the faith of no effect, and hinders the promise. By this Paul shows that faith, so far from being superfluous, is even necessary to that degree, that without it there is no being saved. For the law brings wrath, as all have transgressed it. But faith does not even permit wrath to arise at all, because 'where there is no law there is no transgression' (Rm 4:15). Do you see how he not only does away with sin after it has existed, but does not even allow it to be produced? And this is why he says 'by grace.' For what purpose? Not with a view to their being put to shame, but that the promise might be sure to all the offspring. Here he lays down two blessings, both that the things given are sure, and also that they are given to all his offspring, gathering in the Gentiles." 

 

John Chrysostom,  Homilies on Romans, 8

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, You have abolished the law and set us in the promise. Grant us the faith to trust what You have conferred on us by grace. Amen.

 

For Lindsay Toenges, who is due to give birth on Thursday, that the Lord Jesus would grant to her strength and the gift of a healthy baby

 

For President Lawrence Rast of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne that he would be granted the divine gifts of wisdom, integrity, and a faithful confession

 

For teens who are struggling to understand how gifted they are, that the Holy Spirit would open their eyes to the gracious care that their Lord Jesus has lavished on them through His ministry

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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