A Reformation Day Tribute: Martin Luther and the Righteousness of God

Today is Reformation Day! It is a day theat commemorates the beginnings of the protestant reformation as a German monk named Martin Luther intended to start a theological debate as he nailed his 95-Thesis on the door of the church.  We are greatly indebted to men like Martin Luther and the other reformers who began to rediscover a the light of the true Gospel that had been shrouded within medieval scholasticism.  The key doctrine that Luther rediscovered was the doctrine of Justification by faith. As Luther began to study the Bible, particularly Romans he was greatly disturbed by one particular phrase, "The Righteousness of God".  By divine Grace this phrase began to become the sweetest of all phrases as he began to learn that we received the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ.  All of this is by the grace of God.  I'll let Luther himself describe this discovery later in his life,

I had certainly wanted to understand Paul in his letter to the Romans. But what prevented me from doing so was not so much cold feet as that one phrase in the first chapter: "The righteousness of God," which I had been taught to understand as the righteousness by which God is righteous, and punish unrighteous sinners....

As last, as I meditated day and night on the relation of the words "the righteousness of God is revealed in it, as it is written, the righteous person shall live by faith" I began to understand that t"righteousness of God" as that by which the righteous person lives by the gift of God (faith); and this sentence, "the righteousness of God is revealed," to refer to a passive righteousness, by which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, "the righteous person lives by faith." this immediately made me feel as though I had been born again, and as though I had entered through open gates into paradise itself. From that moment, I saw the whole face of Scripture in a new light...And now, where I had once hated the phrase, "the righteousness of God," I began tool and extol it as the sweetest of phrases, so that this passage in Paul became the very gate of paradise to me.

This beautiful doctrine, so central to the Gospel, is something we protestants tend to take for granted, but on this reformation day may we praise the Lord for showing to a German monk the glorious truth that sinners are justified and given the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.  Happy Reformation day!