Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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In Christ Alone Romans 3.21.26 10.15.2017
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

In the midst of the Reformation in which Martin Luther was a major figure, a leader of the Roman church asked him: Brother Martin, what will we give our people if we take away their relics and their good works? Martin Luther, replied, We will give them Christ.

Today we continue our five part Reformation series on the foundational truths that guided this massive change in the Christian Church in the early 1500s as on October 31, 2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of this significant event. We have spoken on By Grace Alone, By Faith Alone and today we will consider In Christ Alone.

All Christian congregations hold to the truth that their church exists because they are followers of Jesus Christ and they desire to continue the church that He promised to build (and has built) as it is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. The impetus for continuing the church of Jesus Christ is that we as believers have received the Good News from God through Jesus Christ and we are commissioned to preach repentance unto the remission of sins in His Name. Our understanding of the church and its role cannot be understood outside of the biblical revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in His Life, Death and Resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. We must start there and remain there.....

We have heard already two readings, from Isaiah 53 in which coming and office of Christ is prophesied, we heard from the Gospel of Luke in which Christ was revealed and displayed openly and now we will read from one of Paul’s letter in which Christ and His office is explained.

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
ESV Romans 3:25 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. 26 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.
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.


Martin Luther was a monk who was tortured by this question: How does one please God? He had tried to live a good life, had confessed his sins as much as he could, but was left in a condition that was without peace. He would go to confession so much that the priests hated to see him come to them since he would take up so much of their time. This is how it went for Martin Luther. He just could not live up to the demands of the Church and therefore of God. He at this point did not realize that he needed a Mediator.

Then one day he was reading in the book of Romans and he came to these two verses that were written by Apostle Paul under the direction of the Holy Spirit, or to say it another way, were written by God.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Luthers struggle with God came to a head as he was wrestling with this Romans 1:17. He tells us that he was extremely zealous to understand Romans but that this phrase about God's righteousness stood in the way.
He looked within and only saw himself as is depicted in this cut out that I used last week to demonstrate how only through Christ’s atoning work was our sin removed from our account. (For the readers information, I had a cardboard cutout 3 feet by 2 feet with an outline of a human being drawn with black marker on a white board with the list of our sin printed on it in order to demonstrate that in our fallen humanity our sins are accounted unto us)

Whenever he came across the phrase the righteousness of God in Scripture, it terrified him (struck my conscience like lightning, was like a thunderbolt in my heart) because he knew that he was an unrighteous sinner who fell far short of Gods righteous (perfect) demands.

God’s demands of righteousness were so demanding that Luther was angry towards God for making a standard that was impossible to keep.

Even worse, Rom. 1:17, filled Luther with anger and hatred toward God. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners. Is it not enough, Luther tells us he murmured, that God crushes us miserable sinners with His law, that He has to threaten us with punishment through the Gospel, too?

After meditating day and night, finally the breakthrough came when Luther gave heed to the words at the end of 1:17, He who through faith is righteous shall live. Then he realized that the verse was not talking about the active righteousness that God demands, but the passive righteousness that He freely gives to those who believe the Gospel. The sinner is justified (declared righteous) by God through faith in the work and death of Jesus, not by our work or keeping of the Law. Put another way, the sinner is justified by receiving (faith) rather than achieving (works).

Later Luther would say that we are saved by the alien righteousness of Christ, not by a righteousness of our own doing.

Romans 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25 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.
26 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.
When he had discovered that God gives His righteousness as a gift in Christ, he felt that he was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates .that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise. Now his conscience was at rest, now he was certain of his salvation. Before there had been only unrest and uncertainty.

Today we will partake of Holy Communion with Christ Himself serving us His Body and His Blood. From early on Christians referred to the Lord's Supper as the Eucharist, which comes from the Greek word: euvcaristi,a eucharistia {yoo-khar-is-tee'-ah} which means thanksgiving. It was a time of the coming together of the body of Jesus Christ to remember/celebrate that which He accomplished for us and by doing so proclaim His death until He comes again. As the Hebrew writer records for us,

Hebrews 9:15-17 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

Just as in our earthly life descendants receive an inheritance upon the death of their loved one, we as children of God receive the inheritance of Jesus Christ. He is the Inheritance, He is the One who grants the Inheritance and that which we inherit is the forgiveness of sins in His Name and through His shed blood.

When we hear these words of life and salvation at the Lord's Table, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. and, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you, may we assured, encouraged and strengthened in faith and be inspired to continue to proclaim His death until He comes again!

From before the foundation of the world, God has been for us, He came to be with us in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and now He lives in us corporately as the body of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb, He Shed His Blood for you!

Praise be to the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 15 Oct 2017 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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Help is on the way Isaiah 40.1.11
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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