October 25, 2020: Reformation

Let us pray: Dear Savior, we humans always want to steal Your glory by glorifying ourselves and boasting of our own worthiness instead of giving You total credit.  We always seem to go back to outward acts of holiness and hold them up to You as reason for our blessings.  Today keep us away from such a trap caused by our pride.  Let Your undeserved love flood our hearts and cause thankfulness to  guide us in all we think, say and do.  Amen


TEXT: Romans 3: 28: “We maintain that a man is justified by faith, apart from observing the Law.”

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          Freedom is a glorious word!  But to maintain freedom people must be responsible.   Now America stands at the verge of a new election.  All sides tell us that: “It’s the most important election in our history.”  That’s because it is about freedom.  But are we free?  Censorship is taking place in social media and the press.  The information flow to voters is being stifled by the mainstream sources because they have a vested interest on maintaining the status quo.   Money is the driving factor in all  this.  And as for the education establishment, well, they have their own agenda and their own take on historical truth.  Humans, if left too long without God in their lives, will always make a hash of things.


          This was true at Christ’s time and it was true at Luther’s time, as well.  In human terms money leads to power.  One feeds off the other.  But occasionally, God steps in and says: “Enough!”  That’s when reformation begins.

          Pope Leo X led the organized church of Luther’s time.  He was a Medici of the Florentine banking family.  Money and power were his twin drivers.  Everything was about obtaining more of both.  So, he sold indulgences, strips of paper granting the holder forgiveness before God for all their sins.  These were called: plenary, or full forgiveness.  The concept of repentance, self-denial and changing behavior was lost.  Once you bought a plenary indulgence you could basically ignore God’s commandments.  Obviously, this was popular. 

          Dr. Luther was aghast.  For it did away with all the suffering, dying, tears, and pain that Christ suffered to save us from our sins.  It did away with grace, or the undeserved love given to all by God on the cross.  So, Luther penned those famous 95 Theses, the 1st of which said: “The life of a Christian is to be one of daily repentance.”  And the Reformation began.

          150 years ago Dr.Max Mueller at Oxford set out of disprove the claims of Christianity.  As a result of his research, he became a believer.  Let’s hear it for the Holy Ghost and the power of the Gospel!  Dr. Mueller famously said: “At the end of all my copious research, I concluded that there are only 2 religions in the world: Faith and works.”  Faith is Christianity, believing and trusting in God’s love; and works is man doing something to placate and appease God by their lifestyle or actions.  One is perfect—Christ—and the other is imperfect—or man centered.  One is the result of a Godly gift, while the other results from human achievements based in pride. 

          Over the centuries, humans have so hardened their natural knowledge of God, or their consciences, that they have written God out of the equation.  In America today most people don’t fear God.  They don’t even believe He exists.  So all that’s left is power and money, or the fuel used to attain power.  But eventually all that collective evil overwhelms the system and rebellion or reformation ensues.  That’s because God will not be mocked forever.  This is where America is today.  This is where the organized church is today.  So, let’s learn how to avoid disaster from coming upon us, both individually and collectively.


          How are we saved?  How are we made holy, right, and acceptable in God’s sight? We’re sinners like everyone else.  And our flesh often gives in to inner evil because it’s just easier.  So, if you have some semblance of conscience and desire some Godly goodness in life, you strive to live up to some sort of Godly standard.  You hold up to God the times you walked away from sexual temptations, from greed and graft, from taking advantage of others, and from physically lashing out at those who get under your skin.  That’s called: living under the Law.  The problem is: none of this is perfect and therefore acceptable to God because the “soul that sins (in thought, word, or action) shall die.”  And so you’re always living scared.  Then there’s God’s way of salvation.  That is, embracing Christ through faith.  Putting on His robe of rightness with God.  It is realizing that Godly perfection is something God did for us, God earned for us, in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for all sin.  It is humbling bowing before His throne of grace and pleading His forgiveness which He freely hands out to us via faith.  One is weighty enough to balance the eternal scale of justice and one is not.

          Money doesn’t matter to God.  Earthly power doesn’t matter to God. Only faith in Christ matters to God.  That’s because Christ and God’s love are almighty.  This is the meaning behind our text from Romans 3: “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”

          Leo X used the money raised by indulgences to build St. Peter’s in Rome.  That was his way, he thought, to insure a ticket to heaven.  Did it?  St. Paul and St. Peter himself would disagree on the basis of our lesson.  So what about America?  What will insure our survival as a nation?  Guns?  Missiles? A rapidly inflating dollar?   Or, a God-centered moral character of its people who are humble in Christ?  And what about you?  All of us have soiled God’s linens of holiness by our imperfections throughout our lives.  We might have tried, at times, to resist temptations and/or complacency, but we’ve failed.  So, our living outwardly as Godly models has also failed.  And He isn’t impressed.

          No, the only thing that does impress God is the depth of His love  and forgiveness that freely flows from Jesus!  Plead His mercy alone and salvation and peace of soul will be your reward.  Reform your heart once more today by joining Paul in reaffirming: “We maintain that a man is justified, (declared righteous and holy) by faith, apart from observing the Law.”  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

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