True Hope

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Daily Reformation, Romans 8:20-26a

From the Reformer

By the grace of God we know that we are justified through faith in Christ alone. We do not mingle law and grace, faith and works. We keep them far apart. Let every true Christian mark the distinction between law and grace, and mark it well.

We must not drag good works into the article of justification as the monks do who maintain that not only good works, but also the punishment which evildoers suffer for their wicked deeds, deserve everlasting life. When a criminal is brought to the place of execution, the monks try to comfort him in this manner: “You want to die willingly and patiently, and then you will merit remission of your sins and eternal life.” What cruelty is this, that a wretched thief, murderer, robber should be so miserably misguided in his extreme distress, that at the very point of death he should be denied the sweet promises of Christ, and directed to hope for pardon of his sins in the willingness and patience with which he is about to suffer death for his crimes? The monks are showing him the paved way to hell.

These hypocrites do not know the first thing about grace, the Gospel, or Christ. They retain the appearance and the name of the Gospel and of Christ for a decoy only.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians

Pulling It Together

Hope in one thing one thing only. Hope in Christ. He has accomplished what a combined history of humanity will never pull off. His two works of death and resurrection do what our lifetimes of attempts at goodness can never do—they reunite us with God. “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:9). This is God’s plan. By the work of one Man, all mankind, by faith in that one Man, Jesus Christ, are delivered from the grave. Strive to hope it him alone and never in your own striving. In that one Hope who is Christ, you will not be disappointed, for he is no decoy. God has lavished his redemption on those who trust in him (Eph 1:7-8).

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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