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Reformation Sermon 10-27-19

Reformation  Luke 18:9-17

Almighty and eternal God, You mercifully have given the light of the Gospel to Your church. Please keep us in sound teaching that we may with conviction believe and follow Your saving word. Please help us to hold onto the joyful hope of eternal life, which You have given us in our Savior Jesus CHRIST, as He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit one God, now and forever. Amen 

 

Most of our media today, no longer views Christianity very highly. They see Christians as intolerant and obsolete. Quoting a bunch of rules, which downgrade people and punish or even exclude people from God. Too often we come across as always against something or someone which is not the message of John 3:16-17.

 

So on this Reformation Sunday, how do we as ambassadors of God, show His grace and generous love?

 

Theologians have struggled with this question from day one as we clearly hear in today’s Gospel. What does it mean for me to have a right and healthy relationship with God? Initial response to this question was to focus on what he could do.

 

He gave up his legal studies for theological studies; he became a monk, thinking that was holier than being a lawyer; he read and studied the Bible not just a little but a lot; he confessed his sins for hours…even the most trivial sins; he spent his entire life trying to appease an angry God.

 

On one occasion Luther diligently confessed his sin--determined to get right with God. After the absolution—pronouncement of forgiveness …Luther got up to leave thinking how good he was, and then it dawned on him…he had just failed the humility test….being proud of himself and pride is one of the deadliest of sins sent him right back to the confession booth.

 

No matter how hard he tried.

 

No matter how much he did…there was always some sin between him and God.

 

Instead of him having peace with God, he was depressed and worried.

 

His view of God was that God was ready to punish anyone who did not live up to His expectations and without Jesus that would truly be the case.

 

I suspect that this is not just a problem for Luther. It is also possibly a problem for each of us at some stage in our lives. Have I done enough? Am I good enough? But God used Luther’s striving to reveal the essential truth of Christianity.

 

When Luther read Romans 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

 

Luther came to know the freedom believers have in CHRIST. All of the pious platitudes and obligations were gone. No longer was Luther trying to appease an angry God. Instead God offers a joy filled life with Him, through the life death and resurrection of His son Jesus—all by faith. Through the shedding of Jesus’ blood atonement was made. To be justified before God one simply must have faith in Jesus. God’s grace took hold of Luther.

 

This discovery of God’s grace lead Luther to bringing the church’s practices and teaching of the day into question. In 1521 Luther was labeled a heretic, excommunicated and his very life threatened because he dared to remain committed to God’s word. He was given the opportunity to renounce what he had been teaching about the grace of God and how the church was contradicting God’s word. But he refused.

 

The reformation happened not because Luther was against something; It happened because he was standing for something. He was standing for the truth that God is merciful and makes possible for us to have a relationship with Jesus, even though we are flawed and sin is part of our lives. This changed Luther’s whole outlook on life.

 

So what about us? So what about you? Is your Christian life dominated by the “good” deeds you do, and the high opinion you have of yourself?

 

Or is it saturated with the grace and love of God, knowing that you have forgiveness of sins, new life and salvation, only by what Jesus’ life, death and resurrection has accomplished for you?

 

Do you have a good relationship with God now? Do the people you mix with know that God is a God of grace for them too? As our lives are reformed in faith, God’s grace will continue to mold you and other people will discover God through you.

 

May people hear and see is that the Word of God-- the Bible, is a graceful, a forgiving and loving God for all people. That’s our God constantly reforming us.

Amen