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John 8:31-38

 

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?"

 

Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father." 
(ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pleasing In God's Sight

Festival of the Reformation

31 October 2013

In 1517, Martin Luther unwittingly ignited a firestorm in western Christendom by nailing the Ninety-Five Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. An enterprising printer almost immediately grabbed them and printed them. Within six weeks, they were available in every corner of Europe. In the first of them, Luther argued that the Christian life should be a life of repentance, "Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said 'Repent' (Mt 4:17) willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance." Repentance was not the "penance" of the medieval church, which was to render human satisfaction before God. These satisfactions were the penalties that merited God's grace and a remission of the eternal debt incurred by sin.

 

Luther concluded that penances could never merit grace. For him, merited grace is a contradiction in terms. Grace is a gift. A merited gift is no longer a gift, but is owed by right of merit. Not only was merited grace a contradiction, the penances were so paltry they couldn't hold a candle to the merit of Christ, which God does confer by grace. Our efforts and works are so pitifully poor in comparison to the glistening righteousness of God's eternal Son, who offers Himself on our behalf. What would I desire to stand before God clothed in: my own merits, or Christ's righteousness? Which of these is most likely to be satisfactory in the presence of God?

 

We Christians live in the presence of God with the righteousness of Christ enfolding us completely. How could we not live at peace with God? How could we not be entirely certain that heaven has been opened to us? How could we not bask in the joy that comes from knowing that our relationship with God has been completely transformed by the work of Christ, our Savior? Christ has placed Himself into the waters of baptism so that what is His: His life, His death, His resurrection become completely mine through the faith promised and given there. Our heavenly Father has declared Him the beloved One. And if we are in Him as a gift, then we are surely also beloved ones. In Him we are pleasing in God's sight.

 

Martin Luther

 

"We should diligently accustom ourselves to look upon [baptism] with the eyes of faith and to interpret this glorious revelation and divine radiance and splendor which shone forth above the baptism of Christ as happening to us; for all this did not happen and all this was not recorded for Christ's sake, for He Himself did not baptize (Jn 4:2), but rather for our comfort and the strengthening of our faith, for the sake of which He also accepted baptism. Therefore wherever anyone is being baptized according to Christ's command we should be confidently convinced that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is present in it, and that there is pure delight, pleasure, and joy in heaven over the fact that sin is forgiven, the heavens are opened forever, and that now there is no more wrath but only perfect grace.

 

"Not that we can gain this by our penitence or satisfaction, but rather we receive this grace on account of this Son, who bears the sins of us all upon his back and about whom the Father declares, 'This is my beloved Son, etc.' He is exceedingly pleased because He allowed Himself to be baptized and so drowned sin in the water. Afterwards He allowed Himself to be killed upon the cross. Then sin, death, damnation must perish and cease on account of Him, and righteousness, life, and salvation break forth in their place. And that which in us was previously condemned in God's sight is now altogether pleasing in Christ, and on account of Him, even the faults and failings which remain cannot hurt us."
 
Martin Luther,  Sermon on Baptism
 
Collect for Reformation Day

Almighty God, gracious Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect them in all temptations, defend them against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on the Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

For all those who celebrate the Reformation of the Church, that their joy may be complete in Christ alone

 

For Gerald Tackett, who is recuperating from knee replacement surgery, that he might enjoy a complete recovery

 

For Don and Sherry Porter, that the Lord would be their help and strength, an ever present help in trouble 
Art: Dubois, Tom, Luther

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