Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this Reformation Day we come with thankful hearts. We’re grateful that You have freely and completely paid for our eternal souls with Your life for ours on a cross. We’re thankful that our eternal welfare is not dependent on our feeble attempts are trying to be “good people” but totally dependent upon Your grace. And we’re also filled with joy over the fact that when the light of Your grace shines in our lives we’re making a real difference in this world. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACEA ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE MESSENGER OF EVERLASTING FORGIVENESS, TRUTH, AND LOVE!
TEXT: I Cor. 15: 58: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Fellow Redeemed in Christ, Who Fills Our Lives With Meaning and Purpose:
“Why can’t we all just get along?” Those were the unforgettable words of Rodney King, a drunk driver in Los Angeles who was beaten by the police after they stopped him and who he later sued because he claimed their “excessive force” was the result of his black skin color. Periodically you hear the same words directed at the visible Christian church on this earth. “Why are there so many denominations? Why do Christians fight so much about points of doctrine? Why can’t we all just get along?” That approach is called: ecumenism, and it is very popular. People are drawn to it because it is easy, the path of least resistance, and all humans are drawn to the easy way out of trouble. It also presupposes that few things, if any, are really worth fighting for.
Remember when Christ said: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and yet forfeit his own soul? What can a man give in exchange for his soul?” In this world, generally people are willing to fight for their families, their home, their country, and the truths upon which those blessings are based. For such things make life livable and help insure our survival. So, why not employ the same attitude about the things that effect your eternal soul’s survival? Isn’t your soul more valuable than anything on this planet?
The Lutheran Reformation is really all about freedom. It is about spiritual freedom from uncertainty as to how you stand before your Almighty Maker. It is about the freedom of eternal life in heaven. And such freedom is all based on three Scriptural principles: grace alone, faith alone, and Scripture alone.
The most holy place for Americans is Arlington National Cemetery. There you will find acres and acres of graves, resting places for national heroes who all paid for our political freedoms with their lives. For them, freedom didn’t come cheap. And on this Reformation Sunday we need to all remember that for Christians, soldiers of Christ’s cross:
FREEDOM IS NEVER CHEAP!
Recall when Christ says of those who wish to follow Him: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for Me and for the gospel, will find it.”? Those are not easy words. They are not “feel good” words. They call for personal commitment to Christ which encompasses an internal battle between the sinful side you were born with and the saintly side that Christ has instilled within.
Dr. Luther addressed this in one of those 95 theses that he posted on that first Reformation Sunday. “The life of the Christian should be one of daily repentance.” There it is! Repentance means inner warfare. It means taking God’s truths to heart and making them your own, not just mouthing religious clichés. It means being serious about how spiritually lost you are on your own, and how spiritually uplifted you have become through the blood and righteousness of Christ, given and shed for you for the remission of all your sins. Jesus said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” That’s the point when it comes to your life of repentance. If you go through the motions of religious freedom but fail to sweep your heart clean via repentance, you’ll live a lie. You’ll be a hypocrite. And eventually when you’re sick, alone, old and infirm in a nursing home, or a crisis comes you’ll experience inner terrors. You will question your faith and be robbed of any certainty or comfort of knowing that God really does love and care for you. That was Luther’s lot before the Reformation. But then Christ revealed His eternal freedom from all sin to Luther via the Gospel. And that message of forgiveness as a free gift from God won by Christ on the cross set Luther’s heart free! Free to stand up for Christ. Free to put his life on the line for Christ. Free to speak the truth in love and let the chips fall where they may. Free to live and act as Adam did before the fall—with complete confidence in God’s goodness and power.
Freedom is never cheap! Christ demands and expects us to “deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.” That’s hard for us, but it was harder for Him. After all, His cross was the collective sin of the whole world. But, such an approach to life is really love in action. For just as freedom is never cheap, neither is real love. It demands self-sacrifice.
The same is true within visible Christendom today. If we looked the other way when it comes to homosexual sin, I’m sure we’d attract more members. If we ignored the 6th commandment, I’m sure a few more folks would find their way into the church building. If we embraced evolution and ignored the creation account in Genesis, I’m sure some of the scientific minds in the area would be more amienable to us. If we reduced our confession of Christ down to that trite phrase: “God is love.” I’m sure those who mock the Trinity and scoff at Christ’s miracles would say nicer things about us. If we failed to baptize infants or gave up the truth of Christ’s real presence in communion, I’m sure some would embrace us and probably our financial health would look better. But, freedom is never cheap! Standing up for God’s truths is not without cost. Yet, to rob little children of the comfort of baptism, to rob adults of the comfort of knowing that the resurrected Christ physically dwells within them in communion, and to rob all of the comfort of knowing that Christ really did physically arise from the grave and because “He lives, we shall live also.”—Those costs are far greater to bear, aren’t they? Because those costs kill souls.
We at Pinewood have been given a great treasure. The greatest treasure there is: grace alone, faith alone, and Scripture alone. We have had our souls set free by Christ and our minds renewed by the Spirit’s power. And so, don’t ever get discouraged or lose heart. Don’t give up fighting for all of God’s truths—after all they are eternally important to Him otherwise He wouldn’t have given them to us in the bible. Yes, as St. Paul says: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Amen