Man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
It has been said that the doctrine upon which the Church stands or falls is the doctrine of justification. Change this doctrine, and the Church ceases to be Church. This is why, of necessity, the genuine LutheranChurch holds its doctrines so seriously. We don’t go ‘the way of the world,’ ‘dumb down,’ or accommodate what we preach and teach to be accepted by the world. To do so is not only a denial of God’s Word. It is to lose Christ.
But many don’t understand this. Many are simply uninterested in the true doctrine, that which is according to Scripture. They rather be the interpreter of Holy Scripture than let God be God. What a good many are more interested in is how they are made to feel. How does the preaching suit me? How does the service get me excited? How am I encouraged to live my life the way that I want?
Churches that cater to these desires either have or are giving up the Gospel—the doctrine of justification. They are teaching their people—not of sins forgiven in Christ, true repentance, God’s true love and compassion demonstrated in the death of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8)—but that how ‘I’ feel or what ‘want’ is most important. They are also teaching that it’s by the works of the law that one has peace with God, not by faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thus as long as we live here, both remain. The flesh is accused, exercised, saddened, and crushed by the active righteousness of the Law. But the spirit rules, rejoices, and is saved by passive righteousness, because it knows that it has a Lord sitting in heaven at the right hand of the Father, who has abolished the Law, sin, and death, and has trodden all evils underfoot, has led them captive and triumphed over them in Himself (Col. 2:15). In this epistle, therefore, Paul is concerned to instruct, comfort, and sustain us diligently in a perfect knowledge of this most excellent and Christian righteousness. For if the doctrine of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost. And those in the world who do not teach it are either Jews or Turks or papists or sectarians. For between these two kinds of righteousness, the active righteousness of the Law and the passive righteousness of Christ, there is no middle ground. Therefore he who has strayed away from this Christian righteousness will necessarily relapse into the active righteousness; that is, when he has lost Christ, he must fall into a trust in his own works.
We see this today in the fanatical spirits and sectarians, who neither teach nor can teach anything correctly about this righteousness of grace. They have taken the words out of our mouth and out of our writings, and these only they speak and write. But the substance itself they cannot discuss, deal with, and urge, because they neither understand it nor can understand it. They cling only to the righteousness of the Law. Therefore they are and remain disciplinarians of works; nor can they rise beyond the active righteousness. Thus they remain exactly what they were under the pope. To be sure, they invent new names and new works; but the content remains the same. So it is that the Turks perform different works from the papists, and the papists perform different works from the Jews, and so forth. But although some do works that are more splendid, great, and difficult than others, the content remains the same, and only the quality is different. That is, the works Vary only in appearance and in name. For they are still works. And those who do them are not Christians; they are hirelings, whether they are called Jews, Mohammedans, papists, or sectarians. (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p9-10)
Prayer: Lord, keep me from taking for granted your kindness given to me in Jesus Christ. Help me to focus on the One thing needful, and to keep your doctrine (teaching) pure. Keep your church and your servants faithful in words and preaching. Amen.
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