Lent = Grace

Sermon Text: Romans 4:1 – 5 

Pastor Daniel Schmidt

            In the calendar of the Christian Church, there are certain times of year when we spend time talking about our response to all that our Savior-God does for you and me. The Lenten Season of the Christian Church Year is NOT one of those times. The focus of the Lenten season is all about what our Savior-God has done for you and me. In love for all mankind, God the Father sent his one and only Son to pay in full the price demanded by a holy and just God for all sins. Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, willing offered up his perfect life as the sacrifice for your sins and mine. God the Holy Spirit, working through the powerful Word of God, has placed faith in our hearts, so that you and I believe the Good News of the Gospel that we have the gift of complete forgiveness of all of our sins through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

The Lenten season of the Church is not about you. It is not about me. Rather, during the Lenten season we focus our attention on the grace we enjoy from our Savior-God. Today, from a portion of the Second Lesson assigned for our worship this Second Sunday in the season of Lent, we see that Lent equals grace. God’s grace gives Jesus the glory he alone deserves. God’s grace gives you and me the comfort that we need. I invite you to listen as I read again from Paul’s letter to the Romans, as the Holy Spirit led him to write at the beginning of chapter 4. From God’s Word we read,

1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Abraham is one of the great “Heroes of Faith” we read about in the Bible. But God’s Word before us today makes the point that not even Abraham could justify himself before a holy and just God. Instead, quoting from Genesis chapter 15, Paul writes, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Abraham enjoyed a right relationship with God not because of the things he had done, but because he was led by God the Holy Spirit to believe the Lord’s promise about the coming Savior.  

Anytime you or I try to justify ourselves before God, anytime you or I look to what we are able to do to make ourselves right with God, we rob Jesus of the glory that is due him. As one author has written, when we think this way, “We make the one and only true God into a salesman of some kind who has his heavenly goods up for sale.” 

This is why Lent equals grace. In great love for you and me, Jesus Christ came to this earth as mankind’s only Savior. In great love for you and me, Jesus tells us, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Because Lent equals grace, you and I join in the hymn of all believers as we give our Savior-God the glory he alone deserves with these words from the book of Revelation, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb…Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.” 

What would your life be like if Lent wasn’t about grace? What if the focus of the Lenten season wasn’t on our Savior? Instead, for the six weeks of Lent we just focused on what you and I could do to try to win God’s favor? What questions would have to nag at us week after week? “How can I be sure?” How can I be sure that God will accept what I do as payment enough to let me into heaven?” “I know the way I acted this past week, how can I ever think that I am right with God?” These are just some of the questions that are asked over and over again by those who rely on what they do as a way of getting themselves into heaven.  

But what does the Bible tell us about being declared “Not Guilty!” in God’s courtroom? We read from God’s Word, “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” The message of the Gospel is one of great comfort. God declares wicked, sinful human beings like you and me “Not Guilty” of sin, not because of any effort on our part, but because of his grace. The grace of God gives you and me credit for the perfect life lived by our Savior, Jesus. The grace of God brings you and me into a right relationship with himself. The grace of God is our only source of true and ever-lasting comfort.

Today, you and I rejoice that the season of Lent equals grace. For our comfort, God’s Word says in Romans chapter 3, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus…Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”

Dr. Martin Luther once wrote, “There is no more miserable frame of mind than doubt.”  Our God does not want you and me to go through life having doubts about where we stand in our relationship with him. This is why Lent equals grace. Rejoicing in the grace we enjoy from our Savior-God, you and I offer Jesus the glory he deserves as our one and only Savior. Because of Jesus, grace gives you and me the comfort we need. Because of Jesus, you and I are able to say along with the hymn writer,

By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless;     

My soul, believe and doubt it not.                          

Why waver at this word of promise?                                 

Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?                    

So then this word must true remain:                                  

By grace you, too, shall heav’n obtain.                   

By grace God’s Son, our only Savior,

Came down to earth to bear our sin.

Was it because of your own merit

That Jesus died, your soul to win?

No, it was grace, and grace alone,

That brought him from his heav’nly throne.

Together, you and I give all thanks and praise to our Savior-God that Lent equals grace! Amen.