May 12
‘You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.’ James 2:24
Bible reading: Romans 5:1-11 (Go to the Bible passage)
‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God.’
What a joyful message! This is also one of the Bible verses that - according to church tradition - enlightened Luther.
How much have we - throughout all ages - allowed ourselves to be misled as if we should be able to gain heaven by our own efforts, by doing penance. It is deeply ingrained in our corrupt hearts that we always must do something to earn God’s good graces.
When we reject this line of thought as foolish error, our haughty heart has another solution ready: we must do good works out of gratitude. Maybe this is closer to the truth, but the proud heart - unwilling to bow down before God - can wriggle out of this dilemma by regarding good works as a grateful compensation for services rendered, as we are accustomed to do among ourselves.
Only by God’s Spirit can it truly get through to us that there is not even the narrowest road left for us by which we - by ourselves - can find the way back to God. That is why the Son of God had to die that shameful death on the cross! Paul has said explicitly, that a person is justified by faith, apart from the works of the law (Romans 3:28).
But faith without works is dead! So, anyone who is justified by faith, will also truly become a follower of the Justifier - Jesus Christ - Who tells us, ‘Whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these’ (John 14:12).
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