NOVEMBER, 2017 VOLUME 16 ISSUE 8
Greetings in the name of The Lord and Happy 500th Anniversary of the Reformation!!!
So who, besides a bird perhaps, would be even remotely interested in a Diet of Worms? Yuck! How did Martin Luther get so fat in all those pictures we see of him? He apparently didn’t stick to his worm diet. Ok…maybe we should do a teeny-weeny bit of historical homework.
A Diet was an imperial meeting of the Holy Roman Empire. Official business was conducted in these meetings that changed things throughout the entire empire. Luther was called to the Diet that took place in Worms, Germany. There, he was told to renounce everything he wrote and taught. Luther responded that he could not in good conscience deny his writings because they proclaimed the truth of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ. And then his famous lines…
“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot, and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”
And from there….it was ON!!! The Reformation was not about anything new, but about returning to truth. The celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation should not a time for simply reminiscing, it is a time to return: to the truth, to the basics, to the foundation.
The Reformation can be summed up in a brief statement by Luther: “I must listen to the Gospel. It tells me, not what I must do, but what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has done for me” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, Chapter 2). Because of Jesus, God turns toward humanity in love. God forgives all those who have faith in Jesus. After His death on the cross, Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered death for all those who believe in Him.
Luther discovered and taught that humans can’t and don’t earn God’s love by trying to please Him. While God’s gift of grace through faith is free to us; it did not come cheap to God. This is the good news of the Gospel. Faith in Jesus as God’s Son and our Savior gives forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Luther read the Bible and discovered that God has made Himself known to us as a God of love. Luther’s fundamental discovery was discovered in how he read the Bible. Unlike many today, who have never even opened God’s Word and examined it, yet still have an aversion towards it; Luther’s heart skipped for joy when He studied God’s Word, because in it, he understood God’s character. God shows mercy to the guilty and love to the unlovable. Luther saw himself as the recipient of God’s undeserved kindness, not the target of His deserved anger.
Jesus did more than die for us on a Roman cross 2000 years ago…. He lived for us the perfect life that God demands; the one we could never live on our own steam. Salvation is not merely the forgiveness of sins; it is the gift of righteousness, received by faith. Theologians refer to this as ‘the great exchange’. (We receive what He deserves — rewards for His good works — given as a gift. And He received what we deserve because of our deeds — punishment.) Now THAT is Good News. God works to save us. He gives us the fruit of His labor by grace. We receive this through faith. This Good News is the focus of the Scriptures. We do nothing. God works. And His works are very good. Our good works are done in response to salvation. We live according to God’s will out of thankfulness to His love; not through some vain attempt to earn it. Luther also desired that every person could have access to the Word of God. The battle cry of the reformation NOVEMBER, 2017 VOLUME 16 ISSUE 8 was Sola Scriptura, meaning that Scripture alone has the authority to bind the heart and conscience of man. He translated the Bible into German so that every person could read it. A result of Luther’s translation was the multiplication of Bible translations and the manifold increase of media through which God’s Word is freely available. The Word is to be read, taught and proclaimed. The Word informs us of God’s love and instructs us in His will. Just as the Word made flesh came for the whole world, so God’s written Word is given for all people.
Let us reflect upon the Reformation as it has laid the platform for us to freely share and proclaim the Word of God even here in the West, and has provided us with virtually uninhibited freedom and protection to fulfill the Great Commission.
Now THAT is something that the first American Colonist’s would have found worthy of celebrating at our Thanksgiving table this year.
Are we taking full advantage while God holds the door open?
May the Lord bless you and keep you!