Justification by Faith alone really is a BIG Deal

March 12, 2017 – 2nd Sunday in Lent

by Pastor Pete Scheele

Read Romans 4:1 – 8, 13 – 17  


Grace and peace to you as you stand at the cross Justified, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

When building a house or any building you have two different kinds of walls.  There are the load bearing walls, these walls hold the building together and up.  These walls are connected in some way to the foundation of the building and the roof of the building. The other kind of walls you will find in any building or house are the curtain walls, these walls divide the space in the house into rooms that stop people from seeing what is going on in other area of the house.  Now when a house or a building is being built it is often easy to tell which of the walls are load bearing walls and which are the curtain walls, but when the house is done sometimes it is difficult to determine which walls are load bearing walls and which walls aren’t. When you are remodeling a house, it is very important to know which of the walls are load bearing walls and which of the walls are curtain walls, because if you knock down a curtain wall you have is a mess, but if you knock down a load bearing wall, well along with a mess you also have some serious damage to the stability of the house that could even cause the whole house to collapse.

What is truth in building a house or a building is also true for building our lives. The most important part of building our life is the foundation, just like in a building.  The next most important part of building your life is the load bearing walls, the walls of your life that enable you to stand up in the storms of this world and keep you protected from the evil that is in this world. The load bearing walls of your life enable you build up your life upon them and they also give you the ability to grow and sustain your life.

Today our scripture readings are talking about one of those load bearing walls in our life that we need to know about so that when we work on remodeling our lives we know which walls are important to maintain and which walls can be moved. Martin Luther calls the load bearing walls of our life; Faith Alone, Grace Alone and God’s Word Alone.  It is upon these walls that we build our life if we hope to maintain it for all eternity, because all of these walls are built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and are Justified by Him so that we are made straight with God so that we wouldn’t fall down and cause us to lose our life for all eternity. The Apostle Paul in the book of Romans is talking about the life that has been given to us by God through the foundation and justification of Jesus Christ.  In the fourth chapter of Romans the Apostle Paul is explaining the importance of the load bearing wall of Faith Alone to the people of Rome and us as he tells us, ‘What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”’ (Rom 4:1 – 3)

How do we justify ourselves before God? That’s one of the questions we need to be asking ourselves as we stand at the Cross of Christ this Lenten season and at any time of our lives.  Oh, when we make a mistake we try to justify it on all sorts of things, but before God our mistake is a sin and our sins make us fall away from God’s righteousness, which will lead us to death.  For without God there is no Life. So, we need someone who is willing to take our sins from us and give us His righteousness so that we can be made right with God and live with Him for all eternity.  That’s what Jesus, the foundation of our life, came down into this world to do for us by His life, death and resurrection.

How Abraham was a sinful man, just like each of us, who at times was good and faithful to God, just like each of us. God gave Abraham the promise of a Messiah, someone who would take away all of our sins and justify us in the sight of God again and that person would be one of his descendants. Abraham believed in God’s promise to him and that was credited to Abraham as righteousness. Abrahams righteousness didn’t depend on the things that he did right but on his faith in the promise given to Him by God and that faith was one of the load bearing walls of his life that he built his life upon as he lived in this world so that he could live in Heaven with God for all eternity.  Abraham is our forefather if we built our life upon the foundation of Jesus Christ just like he did because anyone who wants to have eternal life needs to build their life in this world and for all eternity upon Jesus Christ. That’s what the Apostle Paul is talking about when He says, ‘Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”’ (Rom. 4:4 – 8)

When we build something with our works it is just like piling up some blocks. If we are very careful we might keep the block fairly straight but because we are sinful they wouldn’t be perfectly straight unless we use a guide or a ruler to keep them straight and that means that they will eventual fall over. But if we start with a firm foundation in Jesus Christ and let God’s Word through the Holy Spirit be our guide then God will build a life in us that can stand even again all that the old evil foe will try to do against us. That is the righteousness of faith that is given to us by Jesus Christ to be the foundation of our life and the source by which our load bearing wall are made to stand right with God.

Often when someone dies, especially when someone dies who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ as their savior, there is a lot of talk in the funeral about all the good that this person did to justify his life so that there will be some hope of comfort for the people who love him or her.  But in the reality of eternal life, there is only one hope and comfort and that is in our faith and trust in what Jesus Christ has done for us to justified us in the sight of God. All our good deeds are worthless because of our ungodly deeds.  It like building a wall of blocks and having some of them justified and others crooked.  Eventually the crooked blocks will cause the whole wall to fall down. But for those who trust their life upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and build their faith on the foundation that Jesus Christ came into this world to lead that perfect life for us so that He could justify our lives in this world by taking all our sins upon Himself and dying for them, that person will now have justified lives even though they may die in this world, they will be brought back to life again for all eternity in the heavenly home prepared for them by God.

We are righteous not because of what we have done right in this world but because we have let God built our lives upon the foundation of Jesus Christ by using the solid load bearing walls of Faith Alone, Grace Alone and God’s Word Alone. These are the walls that support our life now and for all eternity because they are connected to the foundation laid for us by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and they are justified and kept straight through the work of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.

In our world people are always trying to build their houses and building upon a foundation that are not connected to the source of life, the rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ. When their live this way the walls that they are putting all their trust in will eventually come tumbling down because their foundation is not firm and they are building upon a curtain wall instead of a load bearing wall that are not justified and true. Oh, their lives may look just fine when it is first built but as the weather and shift in our life come their building will eventual fall apart and leave them with only the hopelessness of death. But those who build their lives upon the faith given to them by the Holy Spirit connecting them to the Grace of God through the Word of God and found their lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ, they will find that their foundation will keep them strong even in the worst of storms in this world.  That’s why the Apostle Paul tells us, “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (Rom 4:13 – 17)

Yes, as sinners we only have the hope of death and destruction in this life because without Christ there is no Justification of our sins in our life. But with Faith as one of the load bearing walls resting of the foundation of Jesus Christ we are justified in the sight of God and our lives will last for all eternity in God’s hands. As people who have let God build our lives so that they will last forever we are asked to share our knowledge of the firm foundation and wall are life is built upon with others so that they too may have God build their lives upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and to build load bearing walls that are justified by Faith Alone, Grace Alone and God’s Word Alone. That’s our task as we stand at the cross justified by Christ so that others can stand with us at the cross and live.  Amen.

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