“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Romans 3:28).

This verse from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans reveals the heart of Christian theology. The doctrine that we are justified (declared righteous, or saved) by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, is the central and vital organ in the body of Christian theology; the organ that pumps the blood throughout that body to give life to all other Christian doctrines. As we say in Lutheran circles, the doctrine of justification is the central article of the Christian faith, the article upon which the Christian Church stands or falls.

This is most certainly true. Everything in Christian theology hinges upon this central article. If you get this article wrong, you’ll get other Christian doctrines wrong and you’ll end up with a worldly religion that differs from genuine Christianity. The idea that so many Christians adhere to today, that Jesus has done His part and now it’s up to us to do our part, is a lie straight from the pit of Hell. Satan, the old evil foe, enjoys nothing more than when Christians relegate the salvific work of Jesus to a mere part of the salvation equation.

Jesus is not a mere part of the salvation equation, my friends. He is the entire equation. It is not Jesus’ work plus our works which saves us, but Jesus’ work alone. He declared on the cross, “It is finished!” What did He mean by “it”? He meant our salvation. All of it! He has done everything necessary to win for us forgiveness, life, and salvation. Nothing we do can ever add to or take away from the finished work of salvation Jesus accomplished for us.

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