“How Do We Get God’s Grace?” (Romans 3:19-28)

Reformation Day (Observed)
October 28, 2018

“How Do We Get God’s Grace?” (Romans 3:19-28)

On the last Sunday in October every year, we celebrate Reformation Day. For on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed Ninety-five Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, thus starting the great Reformation of the Christian church. Last year, 2017, was the 500th anniversary of that momentous event, and there were huge celebrations around the world. This year, 2018, is the 501st anniversary, so the occasion is toned down accordingly. But we still have something to celebrate. Indeed, 1517 was just the beginning of the Reformation. Every year now we will have the 500th anniversary of some significant event during that time period.

The biggest Reformation event that occurred in 1518, which we celebrate the 500th anniversary of this year, is the Heidelberg Disputation. Let me explain. After Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses in October 1517, the publication and spread of these theses caused a worldwide sensation. Luther was upsetting the applecart! He was challenging the practice of indulgences, and thus he was challenging the authority of the Pope and the Roman Church! This caught everyone’s attention. People wanted to know more. What was this little monk, a professor at a little university in Germany–what was this Luther fellow saying? Brother Martin was a member of the Augustinian order, and so his teaching would be the topic for discussion at the conference of the Augustinians, to be held in Heidelberg, Germany, in the spring of 1518.

Now why is this important for us today? Because the theses that Luther put forward at Heidelberg exposed the errors of the medieval Roman Catholic Church–even more so than did the Ninety-five Theses of six months earlier. In the Heidelberg Disputation, Luther powerfully takes apart the errors that were being taught, and he brings to light the truth of the gospel. And it is this gospel, this good news of God’s grace in Christ–the message of justification by faith apart from works of the law—that stands ever firm and trustworthy for us today. And it revolves around this question: “How Do We Get God’s Grace?”

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Published in: on October 27, 2018 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Reformation 500: By Grace Alone” (Romans 3:19-28)

Reformation Day (Observed)
Sunday, October 29, 2017

“Reformation 500: By Grace Alone” (Romans 3:19-28)

Happy Reformation Day! Now I could say that every year on the last Sunday in October, which is when we observe Reformation Day. But this year it is something special. Because this year, 2017, and this week, October 31–this is the 500th anniversary of that day in 1517 when the Reformation really began.

And you and I are here as a result. We are in a church, this congregation, and a church body, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, that hold to the teachings that came out of that great Reformation. We are partnered with many other confessional Lutheran church bodies around the world that believe, teach, and confess likewise. All around the world, today and this week and this year, we and our fellow Lutherans are celebrating and giving thanks to God for 500 years of Reformation blessings. 500 years! All by God’s grace, for we surely do not deserve it. The Reformation that Luther started brought the great and glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ into clear focus, uncluttered by the errors in doctrine and practice that had crept into the church. And, by God’s grace, we still are being blessed by the pure teaching of the gospel of Christ. It’s still all about Jesus! For this, we give God our most hearty thanks and praise! Thus our theme this morning: “Reformation 500: By Grace Alone.”

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Published in: on October 28, 2017 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“An Eternal Gospel to Reclaim and Proclaim” (Revelation 14:6-7; Romans 3:19-28)

Reformation Day (Observed)
Sunday, October 30, 2016

“An Eternal Gospel to Reclaim and Proclaim” (Revelation 14:6-7; Romans 3:19-28)

It was 499 years ago tomorrow, on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther nailed Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, thus beginning the movement known as the Reformation. We are the heirs of that heritage, and so it is that on the last Sunday in October every year we observe Reformation Day in our churches. We are grateful to God for raising up his servant Luther to bring the clear truth of the gospel to light and to prominence once again. And we want to learn from the Reformation of the need to always be vigilant in guarding the doctrine and practice of the church, so that we remain faithful and steadfast in the truth of God’s Word. For the gospel of Christ that the church is entrusted to proclaim–this is the only saving word there is, and God wants all men everywhere to hear and receive it. Thus our theme on this Reformation Day: “An Eternal Gospel to Reclaim and Proclaim.”

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Published in: on October 29, 2016 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“‘Fear God and Give Him the Glory!’: The Slogan of the Lutheran Church Reformation” (Revelation 14:6-7)

Reformation Day (Observed)
Sunday, October 30, 2011

“Fear God and Give Him the Glory!”: The Slogan of the Lutheran Church Reformation
Reformation Festival Sermon on Revelation 14:6-7 by C. F. W. Walther (1881)
Translated by Joel Baseley. Abridged by Charles Henrickson.

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Sabaoth, all the earth is full of your glory.” This we cry out today, O Lord our God, along with the cherubim and seraphim. For today we remember the glorious work of the Reformation of the church, which you began and gloriously brought to completion in the sixteenth century. Your glory had been taken from the very midst of your church, the glory that you alone are wise and just, and that you have given this glory to man. But behold! You then awakened your servant, Luther, revealed to him that he was by nature a poor, blind, dead, and lost sinner, and yet, at the same time, brought him to the living knowledge that your Word alone is the saving truth and your grace alone, the way to salvation. You restored your glory unto your church again through his faithful service. Oh, so lend us also your aid today that we render you solemn acknowledgment of this, so that by it we remain steadfast in your truth and finally be saved by your grace alone. Yes, do help us for the sake of Jesus Christ, your Son, our only Savior. Amen.

Our text is Revelation 14:6-7: “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’”

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Published in: on October 29, 2011 at 9:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Justification: It’s What Holds the Reformation Together” (Romans 3:19-28)

Reformation Day
Sunday, October 31, 2010

“Justification: It’s What Holds the Reformation Together” (Romans 3:19-28)

Today is Reformation Day. It was on this day 493 years ago, on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, thus sparking the great Reformation of the Christian church. We are the heirs of that Reformation, blessed to be so, and so we join with Lutherans all around the globe today in celebrating that historic event and all the blessings of pure doctrine and sound practice that came from it.

How do we celebrate the Reformation? By believing in and caring about the same things that Luther and the Reformers believed in and cared about. And foremost in that list, I would put one word: Justification.

Let me explain. Last week, in the days leading up to Reformation Day, our Lutheran radio station in St. Louis had a series of programs on what Lutheranism and the Reformation are all about. I was asked to be a guest on one of those programs, and the host asked me to ruminate on this question: What holds Lutheranism together? Good question. Rather open-ended. But the first thing I thought of was this word, justification. Everything else that we can talk about in the Lutheran church flows from, follows after, undergirds and supports this central, primary doctrine of justification. And so our theme for this Reformation Day, “Justification: It’s What Holds the Reformation Together.”

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Published in: on October 30, 2010 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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