Wednesday, May 20, 2009

5/20 Justification and Credit Card Forgiveness

Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to his mercies he saved us. By the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 1:5)

Calvin: Therefore we must now discuss these matters [justification] thoroughly. And we must so discuss them as to bear in mind that this is the main hinge on which religion turns…(III.11.1). The power of justifying, which faith possesses, does not lie in any worth of works. Our justification rests upon God’s mercy alone and Christ’s merit, and faith, when it lays hold of justification, is said to justify. (III.18.8)

We are not justified because we believe. If that were true, then salvation would be by the work of faith. We are justified by grace through faith. Faith itself is a gift from God.
Calvin called justification “the hinge on which religion turns.” For Luther, it was the key concept of the Reformation. The old American common definition of justification is “God accepts me just as if I never sinned.” When we put our trust (fiducia) in God, then we are accepted by Him.
I like the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s definition: “Justification is an act of God’s free grace, in which he pardons all our sins, accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.”
Yesterday the Senate passed a resolution about credit card relief. It is a way to relieve punitive measures of the credit card companies that were used to raise cash for these companies. Namely- if you were late on one payment, they could raise your interest rate to its highest percentage (I’ve heard of 30% annually). There were other things too like if you went over your balance they would immediately raise your rate, or they would charge excessive fees. Many have become distressed/depressed because of such high debt rates. Now, a year ago, most of these companies were luring people in promising things like 0% interest for three months, or balance transfers of say 5%. But if you use your card and forget or mess up, with its often high balances, you could get hammered.
Justification in some ways means you are accepted and forgiven by grace. If you are late, if you do wrong, if you make a mistake, you are accepted. It is like the big banker in the sky has paid your debt and you are set free. Our debt is not owed to a bank, but to God Himself.
Presbyterians pray, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Sin is a debt we owe that needs to be forgiven. Justification allows us to be accepted because of what Jesus has done- paying our debt for us.

Prayer: Thank you God, that you accept us- just as we are. Thank you that you have paid our debt and set us free. Help us to be forgiving of others because you have forgiven us. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. What is interesting about the "forgive us our sins" issue is that under Sola Fide, sins are already forgiven, so praying for repentance doesn't have any place.