May 22, 2016 - Justification by Faith

Brothers and sisters:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith
to this grace in which we stand,
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-3

There are two competing concepts of God in Christianity:  God as unconditionally loving and forgiving, and God as commanding us to love one another.  The uncomfortable fact is that these concepts are in conflict with one another – they cannot both be true.   Here St. Paul pronounces the first view as definitively correct, that we are “justified” – loved by God – through faith.  In Galatians 2:16 he is even clearer: “a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ”.   Some interpretations of this passage declare it is the faith of Jesus, not faith in Jesus, that justifies us.  In other words, we don’t have to do or even believe anything to be loved by God.

We are naturally uncomfortable with this. We like personal accountability, command, reward and punishment.  We want Christianity to be socially responsible.  We want faith to confirm our liberal or conservative points of view. But Christianity is not intended to make us comfortable in our natural predispositions.  Christianity is a rebellion against those things.