“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
One of the best assignments that I was given at the seminary was the task of relating different articles of the Augsburg Confession to Article IV on Justification. Everything always comes back to God making us righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul’s letter to the Romans basically does the same thing as our assignment. The progression of thought that flow from Romans chapters 3-8 informs every aspect of the Christian life. Having a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ is completely God’s gift delivered to us through the Means of Grace. It also shapes our relationship with our spouse, children, co-workers and neighbors. That’s why the doctrine of justification is the article on which the Church stands or falls. It is also why the German princes were willing to give their lives for the sake of the confession they presented at Augsburg.
This summer at the LCMS Convention, retiring First Vice-President, Dr. Herbert Mueller said in his essay, “The reason that I am Lutheran is simply that Lutheran theology is biblical theology. We are ‘Joy:Fully Lutheran’ because our teaching from the Bible brings the greatest possible comfort for hurting and broken people.” One of the great frustrations that I have is when people characterize Lutheran theology as academic, but not relevant and practical for everyday life. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Reformation and Lutheran theology are focused on clear articulation of the Gospel so that people might find the peace of sins forgiven and hope for eternal life through Jesus Christ. We do not need to go searching for Christ, rather we know where He is to be found: in His Word, at the font and table. Since we have been justified solely through the Spirit’s calling us to faith, we are therefore free to serve God and our neighbor with the gifts that we have received from God. Everything flows from Christ. Christ comes to us through the Means of Grace and then we are strengthened in our unique callings and with our unique gifts to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is what Lutheran theology is all about – Christ for you. Christ for the world. Lutheran theology still matters, as Dr. Mueller reminds us, because it is biblical theology and it brings comfort to hurting and broken people. As we celebrate Reformation Day, may God help us to faithfully preach and teach His Word so that justification by grace through faith in Christ may always be at the center!
Prayer – Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan