Monday of Advent 1
3 December 2018
Lutheranism is often accused of teaching a sterile, "forensic" doctrine of salvation. "Forensic" means legal. The Lutheran church does teach the Bible's doctrine that Christ's death sets the Christian under God's grace so that God, the righteous judge, acquits sins or pronounces the verdict of "not guilty" upon the person for Christ's sake (Rm 3:20-28). This verdict of "not guilty" the Bible calls justification. First, there is nothing sterile about the condemned and frightened sinner hearing from God that his sins are forgiven and that the Lord does not remember his iniquity (Jer 31:34). Whoever does not feel free and rejoice at this verdict of acquittal is a log or a block of stone.
Second, justification brings with it the full panoply of God's gifts, so that the Lutheran Church not only teaches a "forensic" doctrine of justification, but it also extols and teaches many other salvific aspects of the gospel. For example, Luther often speaks of the honor that God has done humanity in that Christ has taken our human flesh, by becoming incarnate of the virgin Mary, so that there is the great exchange between the Church and the Christ. Jesus exchanges His righteousness for my sin. All this is mine by faith. The stupendous attributes and holy works of the only Son of the Father are ascribed to me by God! Christ is my righteousness (1Co 1:30). Anyone who thinks this sterile or legalistic has a dead soul and does not understand the depth of human depravity.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"Although David personally had the physical advantage that we do not have, namely, that Christ was to be born of his body, we have just as much reason to be glad and to boast of the honor and glory which we share with David and the holy fathers of the Jewish nation. For in Christ a part of our flesh and blood, that is, our human nature, sits in heaven above at the right hand of God. He wants to be our Lord just as much as the Lord of David and the other fathers. It is an unspeakably great glory and honor for humanity to have been raised so high by Him, not merely to heaven among the holy angels and archangels, who are certainly great and excellent princes and lords, but to the level of direct equality with God Himself. How could the High Majesty become humbler than by honoring this sorry flesh and blood and exalting it through His divine honor and authority? He descends to the level of our nature and becomes a member of the human race! It is an honor which no angel in heaven shares."

Martin Luther, Psalm 110, 1
Romans 3:20-26

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (ESV)
Dear Lord Jesus, You are my righteousness in the presence of God. Give me joy in the relief that I experience when I hear that You have taken my sin into Yourself and cleansed my humanity. Amen.
For Carol Martzowka, that the Lord would grant her healing
For the family of President George H. W. Bush, that they would find Christ's peace in the midst of grief
For temperate weather, that God would grant us days of sunshine and rain as needed for an abundant harvest
For Lutheran High North of Houston, that God the Lord would support the work of teaching future leaders in church and society
Art: Raffaellino dell Garbo  The Annunciation (c. 1510)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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