A Jagged Word: Righteousness


“Faith does not make people righteous because it is such a good work or such a fine virtue, but because it lays hold of and accepts the merit of Christ in the promise of the holy gospel. For this merit must be applied to us and appropriated through faith if we are to become righteous through it. Thus, the righteousness that out of sheer grace is reckoned before God to faith or to the believer consists of the obedience, suffering, and resurrection of Christ because he has satisfied the law for us and paid for our sins. For since Christ was not only a human being but both God and a human being in one inseparable person, he was thus as little under the law – since he was Lord of the law – as he was obligated to suffer and die for himself. Therefore, his obedience consists not only in his suffering and death but also in the fact that he freely put himself in our place under the law and fulfilled the law with this obedience and reckoned it to us as righteousness. As a result of his total obedience – which he performed on our behalf for God in his deeds and suffering, in life and death – God forgives our sin, considers us upright and righteous, and grants us eternal salvation. This righteousness is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit through the gospel and in the sacraments. It is applied to us, appropriated and accepted through faith. Therefore, believers have reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins, and God’s grace, and are children and heirs of eternal life.”

-Formula of Concord, SD III (13-16)