The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


God's radical work

Justification insists on God's utterly undeserved favor

Lutherans consider the Bible a great treasure with many themes. It presents the complex story of God's relationship to the world, a story of judgment and grace, demand and gift. But these aspects of God's relationship to humanity don't constitute a standoff, with law balancing gospel and sin balancing redemption. Our hope and confidence rest in the conviction that God is ultimately gracious and that our sins and brokenness are overcome by God's great love.

The term that expresses this bottom-line Lutheran conviction is justification by faith or, more completely, that we are "justified as a gift on account of Christ's sake through faith" (Augsburg Confession, IV). Justification is an image taken from the courtroom. We find it especially in Paul's letters. He compares God's action in Christ to the work of a judge who throws out the guilty verdict and sets the convicted prisoner free.

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March issue

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