On “Hallowed Eve” in the year 1517, the evening before All Saints Day, a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 theses (sentences or propositions for debate) onto the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
According to God’s eternal plan, that event set in motion what we today know as the Reformation. God accomplished mighty things through His servant Martin Luther. Read More…
“Treasuring Our Heritage of Truth” -First of Three…
“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” Hebrews 13:7
In our service today we are trying to do what God is telling us to do in this text. We are trying to remember those individuals who have spoken the Word of God to us. Since we are celebrating both the Lutheran Reformation and the anniversary of the Church of the Lutheran Confession, we are trying to remember particularly those from the sixteenth century who spoke the Word of God to us, and those in the middle of the 20th century who spoke the Word of God to us in connection with the founding of our church body. Read More…
re-form vt. 1. to make better by removing faults and defects; correct 2. to make better by putting a stop to abuses or malpractices or by introducing better procedures, etc.
re-for-ma-tion n. 2. [R] the 16th century religious movement that aimed at reforming the Roman Catholic Church and resulted in establishing the Protestant churches*
There is little doubt that the visible church of Luther’s time (the Roman Catholic Church) needed reforming. As most man-made institutions go, the church had become more liberal the further it got from teaching the pure Word of God. Man’s declarations became law–traditions became commandments, and as a result the pure gospel message was muddied and choked in the stagnant waters of man’s theological inventions.
The people of Luther’s day had gotten too comfortable with the way things had been running in the church. The clergy were in charge; the congregational members weren’t expected to worry themselves about such things as doctrine.
Luther’s goal was to return the clergy as well as the general population of the church to the pure Word of God–to encourage each individual to a personal relationship with God and His Word. Read More…
Post Tags catholic church, martin luther, pope, reformation, works of man
In the aftermath of the Reformation celebration, we append to this “Cross Purposes” feature a brief but timely commentary by Pastor Fleischer. — Editor
“Pope John Paul II whipped himself with a belt, even on vacation, and slept on the floor as acts of penitence and to bring him closer to Christian perfection, according to a new book by the Polish prelate spearheading his sainthood case.”
Is this Luther all over again? As a young monk Luther was troubled by his sins and concerned about his relationship to God. We are told that in his room he cried out, “Oh, my sins, my sins, my sins.” Seeking relief from the conscience pangs and desiring to make himself right with God, he engaged in self-flagellation. Frequently he went without food. He slept on the floor. Even as a priest Luther engaged in such activity, torturing himself to the point of fainting—all in a vain attempt to find peace with God.
Luther came to the knowledge of the truth. Unlike the pope, Luther learned that self-inflicted wounds of penitence did not give him peace or a favorable standing with God. He learned and believed that his comfort and hope lay in the truth that Christ Jesus was wounded for his transgressions.
In his quest to find peace with God, Luther was helped by an old monk, John Staupitz, who urged him to read his Bible and put his trust in Jesus. In the Bible Luther found that the sins which gave him such unrest were washed away in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was led by the Spirit of God to believe and trust that he was saved by grace through faith without works. He also knew that he could not come to greater perfection—he still had his sinful flesh about him, as do we all—through personal merit or punishment. The demands or commands of the law of God, administered by self or another, hardly give peace or perfection. A penitent sinner simply comes before the offended Lord, honestly and contritely laying before the Lord the daily knapsack of sins. He finds forgiveness in Christ; he believes that perfection and righteousness are found in Christ, and that these are assimilated through faith alone.
Further to the point, sainthood is not earned but bestowed. Sainthood is not a result of a church edict after death—supposedly validated by the good recommendation of men–but it is a reality for the Christ-believer in this life. In his epistles the Apostle Paul was not speaking of the dead but the living when he addressed the “saints who are in Ephesus” (Ephesians 1:1) or those in Rome “called to be saints” (Romans 1:7).
A saint is one who by faith in Christ is recognized as holy in the sight of God the Father. The gospel is the power of God unto sainthood, sanctification, and eternal salvation. Part of the deception of the Roman Catholic Church is the suggestion that sinners can or must contribute something to attain that which our Lord God has already given us by faith in His Son.
After coming to knowledge of the truth, hardly did Luther sleep on the floor again to attain Christian perfection or peace with God!