Lord, teach us to believe thy righteous grace. Amen.

Romans 3, 23-28. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God had 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; to declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

How many glorious assurances God has given in his word in regard to the justification of sinners; assurances to comfort and strengthen our hearts! When I believed in Christ I was “justified”: that is to say, God imputed to me the merit of Christ, and adjudged me to be righteous, as though I had never sinned. This was the exact opposite of what I had deserved; for I have sinned, and am deserving of eternal punishment. Yet God revealed his righteousness by forgiving instead of punishing; for Christ had suffered the penalty, and has atoned for us by his blood. God’s righteous judgment was executed on him instead of on us. This is the law of faith, given in the eternal counsel of God: 1) Christ stands in the place of all men; and hence his atoning blood is for all, and means that all have suffered death for their sins. 2) Whosoever believes is one with Christ, and is for his sake declared of God to be righteous, so that none can lay anything to his charge, and nothing can condemn him. — God makes manifest his righteousness in that he punishes sin, leaving not one transgression unpunished. Even that which through the centuries he has endured with much longsuffering has yet been avenged according to the strict rule of justice; the chastisement was upon Christ; for him who knew no sin God has made to be sin for us; and he has paid to the uttermost farthing. Then again, God manifests his righteousness in that he declares all them to be righteous who accept the merit of Christ. How could it be otherwise, since Christ is wholly righteous? He who still persists in accusing and condemning the faithful will have to do with the righteous God himself; for he denies and insults the justice of God. But if any believer takes credit to himself for his justification, as though his faith were something which he had given himself, or as though faith were a virtue deserving of reward; such a one violates the law of faith, and places himself again under the condemnation of the law of works. Let this, then, be our steadfast faith and the sure rock of our salvation: We are “justified freely — freely — by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Gracious God, give us the light of thy Holy Spirit, that we from the bottom of our hearts may acknowledge that we have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; and let the Spirit make known to us the blessed law of grace and truth, our justification by faith in the blood of Jesus; that we may believe in it with all our heart, find comfort therein, and thus be eternally saved. Amen.

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood.
Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there have I, as vile as he,
Washed all my sins away.

TLH 157, “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood” [melody]

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