Let us pray: Dear Savior, amid a world of deceit and confusion it’s hard to know who to trust and what to believe in. So today we thank You for being Godly truth, for leading us into Godly truth, and for putting the Truth of Your life on the line to save our souls. And although the world may shun You for Your gift of truth, we welcome and embrace You—because You first embraced us. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE!
TEXT: John 8: 31-32: “If you believe in My teachings then you truly are my disciples; and then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
Dearly Beloved Inheritors of the Lutheran Reformation:
Are some Sundays more important than others? No, and yes. No, in that each Sunday is a wonderful day of thanksgiving and praise to God where He leads us in His paths of rightness and bestows upon us amazing grace as a free gift through faith. Yes, in that some Sundays have more of an emotional commitment on our part—think Easter and Pentecost and yes, Reformation.
When I was a child, Reformation rivaled Easter as to excitement and attendance. It was the day we celebrated our liberation from being chained in spirit by the Law, a lot of do’s and don’ts, and we were free to soar heavenward on the grace of Christ’s forgiving love. It was the day we recalled that “one man, armed with God’s Word, could stand up to all the powers of his day and overcome them”—because God’s Word is that awesomely powerful and effective. And of course, that man was Dr. Martin Luther who did exactly that on October 31st, 1517. Our lesson was one of Dr. Luther’s favorites. And so it is fitting that we take Christ’s words to heart today and consider how:
GOD’S TRUTH WILL SET US FREE!
Pontius Pilate asked Jesus: “What is truth?” He asked because he didn’t know and believed that no one could know the truth. Pilate was a fool, and so are the masses today. Many years ago the Bethany Library was cleaning out a lot of old books that they had multiple copies of. Since I worked at the library, I was given the task of overseeing this “dumping” to make more room on the shelves. I purposefully took various old history books for myself, and I still have them. I did so thinking: “Someday these books will be invaluable because they are based on historical facts and not written from the vantage point of the current “recasting of history” agenda that was coming to the fore. Someday history will become so corrupted by political agendas that people will need to know the truth.” Anyone under 40, or maybe 50, who has been to college and had to swallow the modern agenda of falsehoods being promoted knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Today the Reformation is taught from the viewpoint of economic upheaval or the nobility vs. the peasants. It is taught as a power struggle between the haves and the have nots. But it is never taught on a secular level as a struggle between Divine truth vs. human error. That’s because the world doesn’t believe in the Divine and they don’t believe that real truth is attainable.–Nothing is objectively true and everything is merely subjective opinion. And so nothing is right and nothing is wrong—in our modern culture. It’s all just “your opinion.”
Folks, that’s a crock. Dr. Luther wasn’t motivated by theories of: wealth re-distribution. He wasn’t motivated by human power and overthrowing the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. He wasn’t delusional or mentally off-balance either—all of which are thrown around today. No, Luther was deeply concerned about one question: “How can I be saved?” He had been taught the party line: “You save yourself by earning God’s favor and you earn it by being moral in everything you do.” The problem was: Luther knew he was a sinner and he knew he failed on this score literally every day. But still it was pounded into him that God demanded rightness from him. But again, Luther knew he and every other human being could never measure up to this demand. So, this poor man was heartsick and anguished in his soul.
But then, when reading the Bible, Romans, Luther was given an insight by the Spirit. Yes, the Spirit works through God’s Word and opens eyes to Godly truth! When he read that passage: “The righteous will live by his faith” Luther began to understand that the righteousness of God wasn’t something God demanded from us, but that He freely gave to us in Jesus Christ. It was a truth outside of us, given us by a loving, forgiving God. So, Christ would make Luther right with God, not the other way around. Christ had won that eternal freedom for all people on the cross and Christ now sought to hand it to all through His gift of saving faith. That’s what the Bible meant when Jesus said: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
This truth shook the known world of the time! It changed people’s attitudes 180 degrees when it came to how they viewed God and how they would live their lives. Now we could live in thanksgiving instead of in guilt. Now we could worship in the freedom of joy instead of under a sense of obligation. Now we could embrace the 10 commandments knowing that our mistakes and failures in keeping them were completely forgiven, and even our pitiful attempts at trying to keep them gave God joy because Christ had already kept them for us and that’s what God saw when He cast His gaze upon us. Yes, the newly righteous in Christ were free! God’s truth had set us free! And faith alone in Jesus made His gift of that freedom our possession!
The world today is desperately searching for happiness and fulfillment. Politicians pass countless laws in order to make people happier. But they don’t. Merchants hawk countless products to help people buy their version of happiness. But, they don’t. Schools cater to the unhappy discontents by re-writing history so that their feelings won’t be hurt. But they still are. We live in an age when no one wants to take responsibility for their actions. We live in a time when people think that their feelings should dictate what is true and what is not. And since we have 7 billion people in the world we’re left with 7 billion versions of truth. And yet for all this “diversity of thought” people are still searching for the truth and still want, yearn, to be set free.
Well, you, dear children of the Lutheran Reformation possess the truth! Christ won it for you on the cross and gives it to you through faith. God’s truth is that HE SAVED US! THAT HE MADE US RIGHT WITH HIM! AND WHEN WE HUMBLY ACCEPT THIS BLESSED GIFT OF UNDESERVED LOVE, OUR YEARNING WILL BE CHANGED TO CONTENTED JOY!
That’s the reason why Reformation is so important. Celebrate it accordingly. Amen