Reclaiming the Truth
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins….For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:1, 8).
We celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017. Historians have called this movement The Reformation that was ignited into public arenas with Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the church door. Reformation because what followed was “forming again” church beliefs and practice focused on Scripture. The Lutheran Confessions reclaim the Scriptural truth that had once flourished in the Church Universal, however; over one thousand, five hundred years, including the Dark Ages, unbiblical beliefs, practices, and traditions wormed their way into the Church. These years leading up to the Reformation were marked with low Biblical knowledge and lack of access to the Scriptures. Martin Luther first encountered a Bible to which he had access in the library at college even though he was raised in a devout family who were regularly involved with church.
The Lutheran Church emphasizes the above passages from Ephesians. (Note: Ephesians 2:1-10 is a valuable regular read about mankind’s nature and God’s loving work for us.) The concept can be summarized as “saved by grace through faith.” This Biblical truth separates Christianity from all other religious thought. Christianity confesses that salvation is given because of what God has done, not from what mankind does. Scripture highlights this truth by immediately explaining that the faith which receives God’s grace ‘is not our own doing; it is the gift of God” (vs. 8).
This would have to be because the Bible describes mankind as “dead in the trespasses and sins…” (vs. 1) which make us “by nature children of wrath” (vs. 3). Dead children of wrath are unable to accomplish anything. Luther commented, “…We are what we are, even naturally and according to the body and the flesh, and to a far greater extent, supernaturally and according to the spirit, so that we should simply say: ‘O God, have mercy on me!’” (LW 4, 62). Therefore, “God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
This truth strengthened Martin Luther and many other dear Christians through the ages to seek further truth and make a stand as we confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Here we are in the year 2017 Anno Domini (the Year of our Lord) and five hundred years from this truth being reclaimed--people are “saved by grace through faith.” That faith is a gift of God, not our works. Faith in Jesus Christ brings peace now in this world that transcends understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). However, God’s grace continues;; He has done all that is needed to welcome us into to His eternal dwelling.
We can use the opportunity of this 500th Anniversary to continue to reclaim Biblical truths for ourselves, our families, our community, and throughout the world.
The Lord be with you,
Pastor Sam Wiseman