Sunday, May 30, 2010

The very gate of paradise

I meditated night and day on those words until at last, by the mercy of God, I paid attention to their context: "The justice of God is revealed in it, as it is written: 'The just person lives by faith.'" I began to understand that in this verse the justice of God is that by which the just person lives by a gift of God, that is by faith. I began to understand that this verse means that the justice of God is revealed through the Gospel, but it is a passive justice, i.e. that by which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: "The just person lives by faith." All at once I felt that I had been born again and entered into paradise itself through open gates. Immediately I saw the whole of Scripture in a different light. I ran through the Scriptures from memory and found that other terms had analogous meanings, e.g., the work of God, that is, what God works in us; the power of God, by which he makes us powerful; the wisdom of God, by which he makes us wise; the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.

I exalted this sweetest word of mine, "the justice of God," with as much love as before I had hated it with hate. This phrase of Paul was for me the very gate of paradise. Afterward I read Augustine's "On the Spirit and the Letter," in which I found what I had not dared hope for. I discovered that he too interpreted "the justice of God" in a similar way, namely, as that with which God clothes us when he justifies us. Although Augustine had said it imperfectly and did not explain in detail how God imputes justice to us, still it pleased me that he taught the justice of God by which we are justified.

- Martin Luther


Ed said...

I wonder if Augustine's teaching is really all that similar to Luther's. I suppose I could read his essay to find out.

Also, I like Luther's "Augustine had said it imperfectly." My question for him, then who before yourself did say it "perfectly?" Maybe he would have an answer, maybe he would not. In any case, I'd like to hear what he'd say.

Anonymous said...

Happy Memorial Day, Lieutenant!

I am amazed that even with a hectic schedule you are still faithfully posting. Take care, brother.

God bless you and America!


Matt Perkins said...

Hey Ed,

I think Luther would say that the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said it perfectly.

Thanks for the Memorial Day wishes. I hope you also had a good weekend. Maybe sometime I'll get around to posting something on those questions you raised a couple of posts back.

Ed said...

Well if that's the case, I wish he would have explained exactly where one can go in St. Paul to learn this imputational understanding (and perhaps he does, I know you're only quoting a section).