a presentation by John MacArthur
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24
Martin Luther went through great spiritual suffering before he came to Christ. He suffered from constant depression and anxiety. One night, lightning struck near him, and he determined to become a monk to serve God, because he was terrified by Him. As a monk he tortured himself both spiritually and physically, fasting, trying to freeze himself, and confessing to a priest for up to six hours a day. He did this believing it could make him right with God. He travelled to relics, hoping to receive grace from the so-called treasury of merit so that he could escape hell and Purgatory. Even his pilgrimage to Rome brought him no peace. He continued without joy, salvation beyond his grasp. He became angry with God because of his situation. He saw no way to be right before God, much as Job did. All the Roman Catholic church offered was the same answer that Job’s friends did. „Be a better person. Be more righteous, and then you can be saved,“ is the message of all false religion (Job 8:1-5).
Just as with Job, Martin Luther realized that even the righteous man is still far below God’s standard. Man could never earn his salvation. Righteousness comes by grace through faith. It wasn’t until after Luther posted the 95 Theses, when he was preaching through Galatians, that he discovered this and came to Christ. He could not achieve righteousness through the law, as Paul had tried to as a Pharisee before coming to Christ. It is Christ’s righteousness that is imputed to us, without regard for our own righteous works. All the credit goes to Christ, and none to us. This is the gospel that is celebrated in heaven, as seen in Revelation 5:6-9. All worship and glory go to the Lamb who was slain. Any who preach a gospel other than salvation through Christ alone stand condemned. In the Apostle Paul’s day, already false doctrines were beginning to creep in. It was the same in Martin Luther’s day, and today the same defection from the gospel and acceptance of false gospels is eating away at the church. We will always be reforming. There will always be a need to bring people back to sound doctrine and the gospel of grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
a summary by Joshua Chandler