Our discussion on Sunday revolved around where Justification (being right with God) is located (p. 7 in the study guide): is it something that happens individually, within each person? Is the primary meaning of justification my internal transformation: that justification is something that happens within my heart? Or is it something that happens outside me, in Christ, because of His death and resurrection? We might be tempted to go with the first option, since that seems to make it more personal. But our discussion of the location of our assurance of salvation made it clear that if justification happens inside us, then we are going to look for the assurance of our justification also within ourselves. But to look within for assurance is always uncertain and changing, since our emotions, circumstances, and experiences are always changing. In the midst of a changing world and changing circumstances, we needs a certain word and an unchanging promise–which can only be found outside us in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. “On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”
Justification is something that happened outside us, in the eternal satisfaction of Christ on the cross, which is–here and now–applied to individuals for their assurance and salvation.
This led us to a discussion of the relevance of the Gospel for modern people. Lutherans (should) talk little about faith, and simply proclaim the Gospel that creates faith. When it comes to unbelievers or those crushed under the weight of the Law and sin’s consequences, we wonder if the Gospel will be relevant. The fact is, if it is truly the Gospel, it will be relevant because the Gospel is God’s word (Christ) of salvation and life to those in need of it. If it is not relevant to broken sinners, it’s not the true Gospel. But when sin and death intervene in a person’s life, there is only one answer: Jesus, the crucified and resurrected one, is for you, here and now. He joins you to His death in Baptism, delivers His forgiveness in the Absolution, and feeds you with His own resurrection life in the Supper. If you have His life, resurrection is not just a hope, but a guaranteed promise. If that’s not relevant to our broken world and broken bodies, there is nothing relevant.
Join us next week as we continue our discussion, focusing on the Sacraments which Christ gives us!