First Sunday in Lent C

Justification, action, and proclamation--combined we form "AUTOLABOROLOGICAL FUNDAMENTALISM"! <Cue Theme Song> "Nemesis of all Lutherans, everywhere!"

Look, I know it's never going to catch on, but humor me...

Romans 10:8b-13

Verse 9 is cited in an editorial insert in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 3: Righteousness (SD 3.51) at the end of the seventh antithesis. The FC reference is to the arguments from the Council of Trent and presents a consistent Lutheran response: if we think our righteousness comes from anything added to Jesus' grace through faith, it is work's righteousness.

Verse 10 comes up twice in Apology of the Augsburg Confession. First is Article 4: Justification (AP 4:92) as a quote among others explaining Paul's argument that faith justifies. Second is Article 13: Number and Use of the Sacraments (AP 13.23) as part of a larger argument about justification and communion--you can probably guess where this is going. The faith of Jesus justifies, not the sacrament of communion and not faith in communion. Said more carefully: communion does not justify us with God because we believe communion forgives sins; justification comes through the faith of Jesus, which the Spirit pours over our hearts when we hear the gospel proclaimed, and this justifying faith drives us to the waters of baptism and the reception of communion. (**Note: The previous sentence is not directly from AP 13, but an amalgam of arguments from AP 13, other articles in AP, AC, SC, and FC.**)

Verse 12 is quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 11: Election (SD 11.28) to show that the promise of the gospel pertains to all people regardless of whether or not they finally end up in heaven. A small point in the election argument, but an important one.


The first Sunday in Lent provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on from whence comes our justification. Not through our works, not through the sacraments, indeed not through anything we do, God continues to justify us through the faith of Jesus.

  • What are we still trying to do in the hopes that God would love us?
  • How do we confuse the human actions of the gathered Church with God's actions therein?
  • How do our own prejudices keep us from proclaiming the gospel to everyone?