The Most True Truth
Tuesday of Pentecost 22
7 November 2017
Justification tells us what everything else means. The righteousness of Christ given to us by faith is so pivotal that it makes an impact on everything we believe and do. Justification becomes "a way of seeing." Justification is like the contact lens that clarifies everything else in the field of vision. A contact lens is quite small, even maddeningly invisible when dropped, as any contact wearer will attest. Unless it is placed on our eye it is quite unimportant looking; but once it is placed on the eye everything becomes clear. Justification appears only to be a small doctrine, one among many; it doesn't look too important according to the judgment of human reason. It might easily get lost if we drop it from our theology. But it is as important as a contact lens is to a person whose vision is imperfect without it.
Once we have looked through justification we will see the gospel, Christ, His blood atonement, the cross, forgiveness of sins, God's gracious attitude toward us, our life in Christ, the power of baptism, and well, you get the picture. It really is about everything. This is why Luther is willing that everything, including the whole world, should be lost rather than give up one iota of this teaching. Luther is not a maniacal fanatic or a stubborn German in emphasizing the theological centrality of justification. It is a matter of life and death, just as seeing clearly is a matter of life and death when we drive a car. It is hardly fanatical to insist on seeing. Everything in our lives is given clarity and meaning if we look through the lens of justification.
This is especially important to us sinners. If we look at our sins without the lens of justification then we will see them as the law does: under the wrath of God and worthy of damnation. However, if we see our sins through the lens of justification, we will see that the Christ has them strapped onto His cross and that He has carried them away as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Our sins cannot plague and burden us for He has taken them away. We must see through this work of God in Christ, and if we do, we will no longer see our sins, but Christ. That lens is given us in the proclamation of the gospel.
Justification is not a pious fiction as both unbelievers and even some Christians have argued. Ask a contact lens wearer: "What do you see with the lens in? Do you see what is real or a fiction?" The contact wearer will confess that when the lens is in he is seeing the reality. If you doubt that, consider if you would allow the person who wears contact lenses for vision correction to drive your car during rush hour without those lenses. Ah, I thought not. The verdict of justification is no fiction. It is so true that it gives meaning to every other truth. Only with it do we see clearly God's grace at work for us and for others. 

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"The first and chief article is this: Jesus Christ, our God and Lord died for our sins and was raised again for our justification (Rm 4:24-25). He alone is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (Jn 1:29), and God has laid upon him the iniquities of us all (Is 53:6).
"All have sinned, and are justified freely, without their own works or merits, by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood (Rm 3:23-25).
"This we must believe. This cannot be acquired in no other way or grasped by any work, law, or merit. Therefore, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us. As St. Paul says, 'For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of law' (Rm 3:28). 'That he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus' (Rm 3:26).
"Nothing of this article can be yielded or surrendered, even though heaven and earth and everything else falls (Mk 13:31). For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). And with His stripes we are healed (Is 53:5).
"Upon this article depends everything that we teach and practice in opposition to the pope, the devil, and the whole world. Therefore, we must be certain and not doubt this doctrine. Otherwise, all is lost, and the pope, the devil, and all adversaries will win the victory and right over us."

Martin Luther, Smalcald Articles, 2.1-5
Romans 4:13-25

For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring- not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations"- in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, "So shall your offspring be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was "counted to him as righteousness." But the words "it was counted to him" were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.(ESV)
Lord God heavenly Father, You have sent pastors to us to proclaim the gospel of the death of Christ for sinners like us. Set the lens of that justifying message in our eyes that everything might be seen through the message of forgiveness of sins and righteousness in Your presence. Give us the grace to see others through that same lens with which You see us for Christ's sake. Amen.
For Sophia Grace Benton, that she would grow in size and strength
For the officers of the Houston Police Department and all police officers, that they might be kept safe in the commission of their duties
For the electors who are going to the polls today in the United States, that they would use their rightful authority for the good of all
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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