From the Reformer
“There is but one God,” says St Paul, “and one mediator between God and man; namely, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself a ransom for all.” Therefore, let no man think to draw near unto God, or obtain grace of him, without this mediator, high-priest, and advocate.
It follows that we cannot through our good works, honesty of life, virtues, deserts, sanctity, or through the works of the law, appease God’s wrath, or obtain forgiveness of sins; and that all deserts of saints are quite rejected and condemned, so that through them no human creature can be justified before God. Moreover, we see how fierce God’s anger is against sins, seeing that by none other sacrifice or offering could they be appeased and stilled, but by the precious blood of the Son of God.
—Martin Luther, Table Talk, “Of Jesus Christ”
Pulling It Together
This is the message of the scriptures and the Reformation. It is foretold in the blood of the covenant that God made with Abraham: God would have humankind alive again in the garden of fellowship with him—even if it meant his own death. And it did. God so loved his creation that he came to it in the Son and took his own “blood and sprinkled it on the people” (Ex 24:8). It is only “the blood of the new covenant which is poured out for the remission of sins.” (Mt 26:28) He is one with the Father and Spirit and as such is the only one who can bring you back into a right relationship with God.
You cannot bring yourself back to God by reason or works or the law or fasting or mutilation or virtue or piety or even the Church. None of these channels of religion restore one’s relations with God. Yet God has provided the way back by giving himself. He is the only artery that leads to his own heart.