A Message from the Pastor
“For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle.” - 1 Corinthians 14:8
What St. Paul was referring to in the above passage was the different trumpet sounds used in the ancient armies that told the soldiers what they were supposed to do. The commanders obviously didn’t have radios to communicate to the troops, so they developed a system whereby the commander of an army could position his troops and tell them what to do simply by what sound they heard from the trumpet. In reference to what St. Paul wrote; if the troops heard an unfamiliar trumpet blast, they wouldn’t know what to do and subsequently would get slaughtered by an approaching enemy.
501 years ago this month, Dr. Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, monk, and professor of theology, nailed 95 Theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg openly questioning many church practices that were not to be found anywhere in the Scriptures. Luther realized that the “troops” that is, the faithful parishioners of the Church, were like confused soldiers of old, hearing a trumpet blast that had an “uncertain sound” namely false doctrines that were leading people away from faith in Christ and exposing them to be slaughtered by our enemy, the devil. Therefore, Luther set in motion the Reformation whereby the Word of God and the clear teachings contained within them, would once again be made clear for all to hear and believe.
Once again, as we do every year, we will celebrate this event here at Emanuel on October 28th, but I’d hope we would all reflect upon this world changing event throughout the entire month because it literally defines who you are as a Christian. Can you imagine what you’d believe in had it not been for the Reformation? For instance, would you know with certainty that heaven awaited you? For many, the answer is no, because the uncertain trumpet blast or teachings that they hear do not proclaim the clear message of the Scriptures, that heaven awaits the believer because salvation isn’t based upon you but rather upon Christ Jesus.
I know some may think we Lutherans are arrogant in our certainty that heaven is a sure thing…but the point they miss is that it is a certainty because Christ’s atoning sacrifice removed my sin 100% and there is nothing further that need be done accept believe this gift. The issue that Luther had with his church and that persists to this day, is the insistence that the individual “do” something “good” in order to contribute to their salvation. The issue is; that’s a teaching you won’t find in the Bible, and it also “cheapens” Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross by reducing it’s “effectiveness” for lack of a better way to express it.
The bottom line of the Reformation is this: If Jesus didn’t completely pay for my sins, how much is there left for me to contribute? Luther read, researched, studied, and found the answer in the Scriptures, “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) and again, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The bottom line of the Reformation? You may sleep well Christian…Christ has removed the stain of your sins, wiped them from the record book of your life, and you shall inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Until next month….