Reformation Day

All relationships flow from the Christ event

birds flying past prairie grasses at sunset
Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash; licensed under CC0.

October 30, 2022

Second Reading
View Bible Text

Commentary on Romans 3:19-28

When the Gospel and faith in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are lived out, God will be manifested in the global world. God desires the human family to be characterized and defined by a love of people. Children, youth, males, and females desire a world where guns, bombs, and other war weapons will be only in museums and national archives. All people desire a world where peace and unity will be the heartbeat and spirit of life. Yet, each generation has come to contend with war, hatred, evil, and wickedness. The human family is in need of Jesus. 

Paul laments in Romans 3:19-20 and calls believers to the real center of life, and that center is the “justification by faith,” provided by God in and through Jesus Christ. Paul’s lament is the lament of the Church because the human family is in an appalling state. The emphasis on studying, teaching, and preaching from the New Testament has probably caused people to forget God’s story with Abraham in Genesis 15:6. Abraham is featured in the Hebrew Bible as the first ancestor and progenitor of faith, and his coming to faith was simply based on his belief in God. In return, God justified him as a person of faith, and hence all who follow in the footsteps of Abraham and Sarah are part of God’s reign and kingdom. This basic teaching and biblical truth should be taught to all generations, and by doing so, the human family will be kept grounded, transformed, and shaped in ways that align with Paul’s theology and spirituality. 

The human condition, as portrayed in words, actions, and conduct, will always need the good news of Jesus Christ. That said, being in the Church for a long time or being born in a Christian family does not mean that one is saved by God. Paul’s claim in Romans 3:19–28 is that culture cannot offer us salvation, and neither can our status can redeem us. Instead, our deplorable state as humanity finds its rest in justification by faith (verse 21), which is only experienced when one has confessed faith in God (Genesis 15:6). Nations, ethnicities, males, and females are all subject to wickedness and evil practices, and the only solution to full humanity is when one is controlled by God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

As sinners lost in flesh, and unable to meet godly standards of righteousness, God provides Jesus as the only route out of the human predicament. Jesus, in this case, is the only alternative to having a relationship with God and with other human beings. It is through the power of the Gospel that true reconciliation is enacted, and in this chapter, Paul makes it clear that all relationships flow from the Christ event (3:24–26). In other words, the mission of God can only be done in the context of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Anything outside of the resurrection is not missional, neither is it gospel but an ideology. 

On the cross, God extended salvation and compassion to all people, and the Church should also develop avenues of serving the world in a manner that aligns with the events of the cross. The error of many readers of the Bible lies in reading sections or perhaps verses of the Bible and taking those to be the Word of God. It is essential for Christians and clergy to consider the entire Christian canon as the inspired and authoritative word of God and preach a holistic Gospel. Faith formation and Christian living are fruits of both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. With the coming and death as well as resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s word was revealed, as it is still revealed at any location and time. Regardless of the evils happening around us in the world, Christ is urgently needed and pastors, lay leaders, youth, and children need to preach the word to all people. Our affluence misleads us to think that the wealthier we are the more faith we have, but the truth of the matter is that affluence, comfort, and complacency can lead to a dead faith.  

Salvation, like resurrection, is an everyday need and experience, hence, the ministry of teaching about the Gospel should be an ongoing practice (verse 23). In Romans 1:18–32, Paul teaches us that false understanding of God leads to dangerous results manifesting in the mistreatment of ordinary people, and children. Many dangerous events in the 21st century have been done in the name of the Bible. Colonization and invading other people’s land have been done and continue to be done in the name of the Bible. 

While Christianity is a religion of faith, it should also be a religion guided by incarnation, resurrection, and the Trinity. Many who claim to be people of faith lack biblical or cross-shaped ethics and morals. Those who have been entrusted with ecclesial leadership remain untrustworthy and not centered on Biblical truth. The dream of God as expressed in Isaiah 11:6-9 seems to be a nightmare as we experience denominations and nations rising against each other, as well as dismantling global unity, peace, and reconciliation. Churches continue to be nationalistic instead of God, Gospel and Holy Spirit centered. The question at the heart of Paul’s lament is simple: Where is the Gospel of redemption in all that humanity is doing one to another? Where is faith and where is the leading of the Holy Spirit? In this lament, the apostle Paul reiterates the theme of faith in a three-fold manner emphasizing believers’ faith in Jesus Christ (verses 24 -26). 

It is perhaps fair to suggest that the 21st century Church has lost its central faith in Jesus Christ, and in most cases, faith is now national-oriented and politically defined. What is needed is to train pastors who can move people to Christ, and this can only be done when seminaries adopt a cross and resurrection-oriented curriculum. Clergy of all contexts should preach sermons that teach Christ’s love, mercy, and grace. The desire of many pastors to convict others has become a stumbling block to the gospel, for no human being can convict the other besides the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, Paul’s letter to the Romans summons the 21st century Church to evaluate itself from the perspective of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Simply put, all humanity, including Christians, have missed God’s mark. 

Reformation Sundays should be celebrated not as ritualized seasons, but as sacred days to remind and call people to embody the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul’s articulation of the saving event in Romans 3:24–26 should summon people, nations, and ethnicities to commit themselves to God’s mission and ministry for justice, mercy, and repentance. Global faith claims and Church attendance without a commitment to justice, spiritual formation, and mercy is an insult to God’s heart. Reformation Sunday should respond to Paul’s theology and summon people to a life of forgiveness and Global love.