Thursday, October 9, 2008

Justification through believing the Gospel and not keeping the Law

Reading:

1) Heidelberg Catechism

19 Q. How do you come to know this?

A. The holy gospel tells me. God himself began to reveal the gospel already in
Paradise; later, he proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs and prophets, and portrayed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law;finally, he fulfilled it through his own dear Son.

2) Scripture

Galatians 2:15-16: We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Comment:

The contrast between the law and the gospel shows us that we cannot work our way to heaven. Being good is not the way to union and communion with God. Doing good is not the way to be right with God. Instead we are brought into fellowship and favor with God by believing the gospel message about his Son, Jesus Christ!

God’s Word can be divided into two parts: law and gospel. The law shows us our sin and our broken relationship with God. The gospel shows us how we can be right with God in spite of our sin.

God’s word (both law and gospel) governs the whole universe. The Lord shows us right at the beginning of the Bible how he relates to his creation and us. Again and again we read, “And God said . . . and God said” (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 26, 28, 29). The Lord relates to his creation, including us, by his word! God creates and sustains the world by his powerful word (Heb. 1:3). Everything in the universe obeys his word, which the scientists call laws! But human beings have sinned by rebelling against God’s word. The law reveals our failure to obey the Lord.

Since we cannot return to God by obeying his law, God in his compassion sent his Son into the world to bring us back to himself. The gospel tells us what the Father did to restore us to himself through his Son. When we believe the gospel message about the Son of God and his saving work on the cross, then the Father justifies us through the righteousness of his Son. God credits or imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ to everyone who believes in him. This is how we become right with God and return to his favor!

There is nothing better than being in a right relationship with the Father and the Son. Our greatest privilege is to live in fellowship with the triune God. But this relationship is established and maintained, not by being good or doing good, but by believing in the Son whom the Father sent to the world in love.

Discussion: How do we connect with God? How does Genesis 1, with its repeated phrase, “God said,” teach us the way that God relates to his creation?

Prayer Starter: Thank the Lord for the gospel that makes us right with God through faith. Ask for the Lord Jesus Christ’s grace and strength to walk by faith in union and communion with him.

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