It seems fitting that a blog about the gospel should start on the Sunday before Reformation Day. I didn’t plan that on purpose, other than I wanted to start this blog at the beginning of November, and Reformation Day comes during the first week of November.
Here’s a prayer by Scotty Smith that he wrote last year for Reformation Sunday. I plan to post a prayer or psalm each Sunday.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, (as a propitiation) through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26
Dear Jesus, it’s Reformation Sunday—the day we remember to remember the gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone. How could we ever forget the gospel? How did it ever come to pass that there was even a need for Reformation Sunday? What circumstances created the necessity for Martin Luther to nail his Ninety-five Theses to the front door of the Castle at Wittenberg on October 31st, 1517?
All my questions are rhetorical, Jesus, for I know quite well why we needed the first Reformation Sunday, and why we’ll always need to be rediscovering and reaffirming the gospel of your sovereign and saving grace. I know this because I know my own proud and foolish heart.
Jesus, the gospel declares me to be a whole lot worse off than I can imagine… certainly a whole lot worse that I want to acknowledge. Jesus, I never needed you merely to be a moral model for me to follow. I never needed a religious experience or rules to obey. I needed you to live a life of perfect obedience for me. I needed you to fulfill all the demands of the law for me. Thank you for doing this perfectly, Jesus.
And I needed you to take my place upon the cross—receiving the punishment I deserve for all the ways I fall short of God’s glory… breaking, ignoring and going way beyond his law, and, worse of all, worshipping other gods. I needed you to exhaust God’s just and holy wrath, against me and my sin… lest I despair of my guilt or foolishly try to curry God’s favor by my anything. Thank you for doing this perfectly, Jesus.
Jesus, I even needed you to give me the very faith I needed to receive this free and full justification. This you have done perfectly, as well. I praise you. I worship you. I once again affirm today that my hope is built on nothing less, nothing more and nothing other than your blood and your righteousness. On you, Lord Jesus, the solid and saving Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand… all other ground is sinking sand. Keep bringing me back to the gospel, Jesus, keep bringing me back to the gospel plus nothing. So very Amen, I pray, in your most holy and gracious name.