Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for setting us free through Your gift of grace alone. Thank You for making this precious possession ours via the gift of faith alone. Thank You for giving us the knowledge of God through Scripture alone. So armed, may we be unafraid to speak out and confess You as the way, the truth, and the life. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR LOVING LORD!
TEXT: Mark 13: 5-11
Dearly Beloved By Our Grace-filled Lord:
The 1st Amendment to the U.S. constitution guarantees our right to free speech, freedom of religion and the right of assembly. The only caveats to free speech include obscenity and the right of yell “Fire” in a crowded assembly when there is no fire, thus provoking panic. This also means we can speak our minds and openly preach God’s Word like we’re doing today.
It wasn’t always so. At Luther’s time during the early 1500’s the only person who could freely express his opinion was the King. Likewise during the centuries before. So, people were careful who they talked to and what they talked about. For example, if you criticized the Roman emperor at Christ’s time, you could be jailed, or worse. St. Paul eventually suffered death for his open speech before the Roman emperor. Hence, Christ’s words to the disciples describing the end times: “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you stand before governors and kings as a witness to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
Dr. Luther didn’t have a 1st amendment shielding him in 1517 when on this day he nailed his 95 theses of abuse in the Roman Church, thus starting the Reformation. But he did have a political prince who was on his side. Good thing. Otherwise he would have been killed. 13 years later, Dr. Luther stood before Emperor Charles V at the council in Worms. A painting of that famous event is on the back wall of the church. But now Luther wasn’t alone. He had a whole host of Lutheran princes backing him! And when asked to renounce his many writings, Luther utter those famous words: “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen!” Is it any wonder the old Lutherans equated Christ’s words in Mark with Luther before kings?
It all revolved around the age-old question: “How am I saved?” Rome said and still says: “It is based on human faith and good works.” And probing further they say that your seeming noble deeds are what give you certainty of this and placate God. Lutherans, however, say it is only God’s undeserved love for us in Christ is what makes us right with God. He was perfect. We are not. And faith grasps His perfect love because He gives us faith as a gift via the Holy Spirit. Likewise, only the Bible spells out the truths of God, not any additional opinions of mere humans. Dr. Luther’s writings all speak from the Bible about grace alone, faith alone, and Scripture alone. It’s the truth that sets us free from the guilt of sin and its wages: death.
If Luther had begun his Reformation in 2021 instead of 1517, I wonder what would be occurring? Would the head of Twitter block his tweets? Would Facebook ban him for being beyond the scope of political correctness? Would the major news networks ignore him and the foment of freedom that God used him to cause?
Luther, like all believers, did not plead any 1st amendment protections. He trusted in God and the Spirit’s power. And slowly but surely, God used that power to liberate His Church, His people, from guilty consciences and the fear that comes with them. Indeed, no political, social, economic or media princeling can stand against God’s eternal truth and win. “If you hold to my teaching, than you really are my disciples. And then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” as Jesus says.
For us today, the characters have changed, the countries have changed, the times have changed; but God hasn’t changed and neither has His truth. Christ alone did it all when it comes to saving our souls. Christ died and rose again. Salvation is His free gift to us via faith. The Reformation lives on inside our hearts. Peace between God and all humans has been achieved because God did it all in Jesus Christ. You and I are the “mini Luthers” of 2021! So use your God-given rights as His children and “speak His truth in love.” His chosen are out there ready to listen and learn and become strong in the Lord. Amen
THE peace of God….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox