Pastor’s Corner

During the month of October we celebrate the Protestant Reformation, and many times we reflect on some of the teachings of the Reformation and Dr. Martin Luther.  Because he celebrates the freedom we have in Christ.  Freedom from legalism, living as if we could earn the righteousness that only Jesus could give to us.  It is not about personal performance or achievements, but only about the grace of Christ which covers all of our sins.

In 1520, Martin Luther was writing an open letter to Pope Leo X.  He appeals openly for kindness that it was the teaching of the Roman priests about the sale of indulgences and the false teachings that Luther was standing against.  This was 3 years after Martin Luther had nailed the 95 Theses to the Church Door of Wittenberg, Germany.  And He is firmly standing on the truth of God’s Word, stating again for the record that he would not recant of his teachings that are based on Scripture alone. It was in this tumultuous time period that Luther wrote the letter and the treatise that would be called, “The Freedom of the Christian.”

The 80-page treatise could be succinctly summarized in one Luther’s opening statements.  As it would outline our freedom with the Gospel and our service flowing from our love for God.

Luther wrote: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.

A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”

When it comes to the traps of manmade religion, whether it is measuring piety and religious fervor, or following the set number of rules, legalistically, so that people begin to falsely believe that their works could put them in God’s favor, like it was some sort of transaction at the neighborhood market.  Even the Roman Catholic church was practicing the sale of indulgences during this time, selling forgiveness of sins, to reduce or eliminate a Christians time in “purgatory.”  A man-made Catholic teaching that we cannot simply enter into the gates of heaven, but that we must atone for our transgressions and be purged of them for a number of years before ever stepping foot in God’s Kingdom of glory. 

[Jesus said:] 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36) The freedom that Christ is through His grace that we receive freely through faith alone.  We are washed clean in His blood that He shed on our behalf, so that we could become children of God.  So, when it comes to mankind burdening each other with false religious teachings or rituals, we know the truth of the Gospel; we have already been forgiven and set free from those chains which were such a heavy burden around us.

And the other part of Luther’s point, is that now that we are saved we have a responsibility and are given the opportunities to serve God and to love our neighbors, who were also created in God’s image, who Christ also lived and died for, and who God loves more than we ever could. 

How should we use this freedom in Christ?  To glorify Christ and to become bold witnesses of His message of love for the world.  19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible…. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-23)

  This fall as we inch closer to celebrating the German Dinner, and the Reformation, may we be reminded of our great freedoms that we have in Christ, and of how we can use those freedoms to be useful and of service to others that God has placed around us. 

In His Service,

Pastor Ryan