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Reformation (Observed)

November 14, 2005
The Festival of the Reformation (Observed) Trinity Lutheran Church 30 October 2005 Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +
Romans 3:19-28

Salvation is yours. Been done. Apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been revealed. Freely and completely in Christ. No strings attached. No hidden fees. No small print. No late charges. Jesus’ death does the salvation job. Good Friday’s "It is finished" really does mean what it says. The whole enchilada of salvation has been accomplished by Jesus. Done. Finite.

"God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement." For you to trust. That’s faith. Faith in Jesus who Good Fridayed your sins in His death. Totally. Forgivingly. Freely. Who would ever forbid you to trust only in Jesus? Threaten you with hell’s damnation if you cling to His Good Friday death for you and for the world’s salvation? Who would dare to threaten you with arrest and jail time for saying that faith alone in Jesus is all that it takes for salvation?

Loads of church folks in the 1500s forbade such teaching and preaching. Condemned such trusting and believing. Dr. Martin Luther, Augustinian monk and Wittenberg professor, was told to shut up. Zip it. To cease and desist the teaching that sinners are saved only through faith in Jesus. Ordered to take back all his writings, teachings and sermons that confessed that sinners "are justified as a gift by God’s grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus . . ." Told to never again teach, "that a person is justified through faith."

The pope, most of the bishops and big shots of the empire didn’t object to justification through faith. They objected to Dr. Luther’s insistence based on today’s text that it’s through faith ALONE. Faith only in Good Friday Savior Jesus. For all sin. For all sinners. None of our doings or non-doing included. "Apart from works of the Law" is how the text says it. That’s the rub isn’t it? It’s where the Reformation rubber hits the road.

Got Dr. Luther in hot water. For he insisted on faith alone in Jesus for salvation. It’s what Scripture says. When the pope commanded Dr. Luther to stop — Boom! The Lutheran Reformation. The split in the church wasn’t planned by Dr. Luther. He simply taught what Scripture clearly says. So he was declared to be an outlaw in the empire. A price put on his head. And the pope excommunicated him and any who dared to follow this faith alone in Jesus teaching from Scripture.

Now let’s be clear here. Rome didn’t and doesn’t deny faith. Rome’s all for faith. But Rome wasn’t and isn’t for faith only. Faith in Jesus all by its lonesome is what Rome won’t stand for. Even to this day Rome teaches that something has to be added to faith in Jesus. Faith has to be spruced up. Gussied up. Gassed up. With the high octane additive called your love.

Faith plus love. Faith formed by your love of God and your neighbor. So what’s Jesus for? Well, Jesus died. No one denies that. Not even Rome. But, for Rome, Good Friday is just the starting point. Gets the salvation ball rolling. But now it’s up to you with God’s help to finish the salvation chore. And it all depends on what you do with your life of faith formed by your love. Again the Roman way is salvation through faith in Jesus PLUS your love. Your love, then, is the salvation clincher. Your love additive to faith is what bags the big game of salvation for you.

So how’s your love going? How goes it toward loving your neighbor? Your spouse? Your children? Your fellow workers? Your rotten Uncle Arthur? Your enemies? I’m sure you can’t sleep at night devising ways and words of love for them. And more importantly, how about your love toward God? His Name? His Word? Are you madly in love with God or do you give all your love to other idols?

That’s what I thought. The love doesn’t go so well does it? The love-ometer is pretty low. It doesn’t even register does it? The faith formed by love formula for salvation puts all the attention on you. Your love. Your doing. You’re not doing. Leaves you on your own ultimately. And that kind of diminshes the All Sufficient Good Friday It Is Finished Work of Jesus for you, doesn’t it? It does. And that’s very naughty.

And that’s why there was a Reformation. Salvation isn’t done by measuring your love. Or by taking your love temperature. That always ends in total failure. Your love never measures up. Your love always grows cold. The apostle Paul is right. You can’t boast in your works of love. Don’t walk up to the Lord and boast to His face that you’ve been so loving. If you do, if you insist on it, God will give you want you want. Give you want you’ve earned: HELL. And He’ll say: "You just don’t get it do you? I don’t know who you are!"

Instead, the love of God has been poured out for you in Jesus. Sacrifice of Atonement Jesus. Yours and the sin of the world has been answered for in the Crucified Body of Jesus on the Cross. God’s justice has been served. All sinners, you, me and a world full of sinners, have been put to death for our sins — in Jesus! The Sinless Lamb of God took our sin to become the sinner in our place. And what does He get? Eternal damnation. Why? For you. He sheds His blood for the forgiveness of all your sins. For your salvation.

Our Lord’s Good Fridaying death of love is what’s certain and sure. Into that death you’re baptized. You’re fed with that Good Friday Body and Blood at the Supper. What love! Not yours. The Lord’s. He’s the sacrifice. He’s done the salvation job. For you to trust. Jesus only. Faith only in Him.

And whatever love you’ve got that’s birthed from faith only in Jesus — give it to your neighbors. They need your love. God doesn’t. Be reckless with your love. That will keep you busy. Give you enough to do in this life. But leave the salvation job to Jesus. You’re died for by Good Friday Jesus. Have a happy Reformation Day.

In the Name of Jesus.

From → Sermons

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