You have been justified freely, by grace for the sake of Christ, through faith.
This is a phrase you need memorized so that you may call it to the front of every conversation, thought, and deed you have. In deed, this is what was fought for and won by the Reformation: the clear proclamation of justification; in other words the Gospel.
God gives what He demands, in Jesus Christ. God demands justice. God demands Judgment. God demands knowledge. God demands witnesses. God demands righteousness. God demands belief. God demands Faith.
From the portion of Romans we heard this evening, these are a few of the demands of God’s Law that the sore and oppressed conscience can pick out. At the very start, the Lord stops our own mouths, because we are the ones who hear the Law speaking to us.
Remember, the Law is any and all commands coming from the Father, Son, or the Holy Ghost, so good works done by us also fall under this jurisdiction of the Law. For it is not just by the Law, but also by works of the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Meaning, whatever you do, you feel the press of God’s demands upon you to do more.
Let us pull out the main ideas from this reading: faith, justified, and righteousness and we believe that the exact righteousness that God demands is not to be found in the Law. Although we will hear of it, the Law does not give it to us, because, again, only sin comes by the Law.
What is this righteousness? It is Faith. Faith alone saves you, because all have heard the Law speak to them and so all have sinned. Yet, justification is a free gift by Grace alone. The proof of this is Jesus Christ; true man and true God, offered on the cross, in your place.
You do not discover this truth on your own, no matter how much seeking you do. God shows you; He proves it to you by His Word and faith comes by hearing, therefore it is by Scripture alone that we hear and believe our salvation in Jesus.
Grace alone. Faith alone. Scripture alone. This is all for you and all to prove to you God’s righteousness which consists of Him flagrantly turning a blind eye to our sins. Passing over them as if they never happened. God is God and this is how His Word says He works.
Not through us talking about ourselves at all, but us listening; sitting at God’s feet and listening to all that He has accomplished for us. Being reminded, again and again, that He is Just and Justifier. He is Just because He does what is right in punishing sin and sinners; Justifier, because He metes out judgment upon His Son, in our place.
Boasting, then, or talking about ourselves and how great we are doing with God on our side, is not just excluded, but it is excommunicated. There is no room in Justification for any testimony from you.
This is the meaning of Faith alone, Grace alone, and Scripture alone. This is the key to understanding that you have been justified freely, by grace for the sake of Christ, through faith. This is how you can sum up the Reformation, Lutheran doctrine and all of Church practice in two words:
That’s it. For as thick as the Book of Concord is; for as difficult as the Athanasian Creed is; for as impossible as the Trinity is and as miraculous as the two natures in Christ are, all things are summed up in Christ alone.
All the answers to your prayers are in Christ alone. All of God’s promises are “yes” in Christ alone. The fate of the Church and the destiny of the Baptized are found in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ alone.