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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#981. Your faith has saved you. (1/2/24)

This week, we continue in our Luke - Exploring Who Jesus is series. We will be reflecting on Jesus’ welcome to the sinful woman who anoints Him with perfume in Luke 7. If you find these devotionals helpful, do feel free to pass them on to others. 

'Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."' (Luke 7:48-50)

Lesson: Salvation is by faith in Christ who died as our substitute for our justification.  


You can listen to this devotional at:


It’s very common to believe that God accepts or rejects us based upon or doing good or bad. It’s very common to have a smuggishness that points to finger at others who are 'making the world a bad place' whilst feeling that we are good and that God is pleased with us because we are good. Like Simon and the religious leaders in this account, we can be self-satisfied whilst looking down our noses at others who are not as good as us. In the Bible, however, we are taught that one is saved - made right with God - by faith in Jesus alone and that our works cannot contribute or subtract from this gift of salvation. 


Justification by grace and by faith alone

God’s means of salvation is often expressed as, By grace alone (Sola gratia) and by faith alone (Sola fide). The term that summarises how one is saved is justification.   


The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches us about our justification: 

‘Q. 33. What is justification? A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for [on the grounds of] the righteousness of Christ imputed [or accounted] to us, and received by faith alone.’

Wayne grudem summarises justification:

‘Just what is justification? We may define it as follows: Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ's righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight.’ (Grudem’s Systematic Theology). 

I trust we can see how radical this is! Before we do anything good, God counts us as perfectly righteous! We, before God, are as righteous as Jesus, whose perfect character and works are accounted (imputed) as ours through faith in Him. Paul writes of this:

‘We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.’ (Galatians 2:15-16) 
‘For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.’ (Romans 1:16)

At coming to understand these words (from Romans 1:16), the great reformer, Martin Luther, famously, said that he felt that he had been “entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open." This seems to have been the experience of the woman in our account and should surely be our experience. 


Jesus our substitute 

Our justification - our being gifted with Jesus’ perfect righteousness - is not simply God letting us off of our sin and choosing to give Jesus’ righteousness to us. It would be unrighteous of God to let us off and treat sinners as righteous! Our justification is possible because Jesus is our substitute as He died for our sin in our place. In taking the justice of God for our sin in His condemnation and death on the cross, we are able to be justified because the penalty has been paid for our sin and the penalty was death! The prophet Isaiah says it so well:

‘Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.’ (Isaiah 53:4-5) 

To put it into the context of this week’s narrative, this sinful woman is able to be forgiven and justified because Jesus will die for her and her outpouring of gratitude is an example and provocation as to our response to God’s lavish grace. 


Response

Salvation is by faith in Christ who died as our substitute for our justification. Would Jesus be able to say over you, “Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Is your entire confidence for salvation built on Jesus’ death for your sin and His gift of righteousness? How does this woman’s response inform how you could respond to Jesus’ lavish grace? 

 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

This week is SIV Week so in this study, we will focus a bit more time on how we can bring our community to Jesus through Serving, Investing and inViting.


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Please ensure that the members of your group are aware and familiar with using the daily devotionals.


2. Icebreaker

How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?


3. Worship together

Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.


4. Study and pray together

This week is SIV Week so in this study, we will focus a bit more time on how we can bring our community to Jesus through Serving, Investing and inViting.


What is SIV?

SIV stands for Serve, Invest, and Invite. This is our very simple strategy to help bring our community to Jesus. We believe that God has placed us in relationships and in specific locations to be 'salt and light.' We can effectively bring people to Jesus by 'Serving' them, demonstrating the love of Christ in practical ways; by 'Investing' in the people to whom we feel the Spirit is leading us; and by 'Inviting' them into our homes showing hospitality and inviting them to church events, to Alpha, and ultimately, inviting them to come to Jesus through the gospel. 


Let's spend this time sharing, thinking and praying about how God wants to work through us to help our communities to come to Jesus.

Please read Luke 7:36-50

Note: Firstly, encourage the group to use the devotionals so as to cover more aspects of this text.

  1. Why were these religious leaders so unwelcoming to this woman and how can the church fall into a similar attitude?

  2. What does this account tell us about the gospel?

  3. From this account, what can we learn about bringing our community to Jesus?

  4. Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ recently?

  5. How, as individuals and as a group, will you seek to bring your community to Jesus? Pray and talk about ideas in order to make a plan.

  6. Who are you regularly praying for to come to Christ?

  7. Lets now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV.

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