On this day 500 years ago Martin Luther would nail his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Wittenberg church.
His seeming defiance of the Roman Catholic Church was based on ‘justification by faith’, which is largely the theme of Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, and indeed, the entire Gospel.
That we have all sinned, but are freely made righteous only by the amazing grace of God through the redemptive power of Jesus and the cross (paraphrasing Rom. 3:23,24).
In his ‘Commentary on Romans’, Luther wrote,
“The Epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel, and is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul.”
There is an error today where many would like to believe that, the old testament was under the law and people had to be saved by mere works, and that today we are living under grace and saved by faith alone.
A careful study of the Word will reveal that “justification by faith” was the only way by which people were saved all along, even in old testament times. A scroll through the hall of faith in Hebrews 11 will confirm just that.
The Apostle Paul wanted to expound on this truth to the early Jewish Christians by bringing two pivotal characters of the Jewish nation into the picture. Father Abraham and King David.
In Romans 4:1-17, he points out that justification by faith was there before the existence of a Jewish nation, and even before the Mosaic laws.
So if we are justified by faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ does that make void the laws of God and give us the license to live in lawlessness? God forbid. Rather we uphold the law (paraphrased Rom. 3:31).
Let the REFORMATION continue!