There's an old story about an unhappy wife whose husband didn't really love her. The man prepared a list of rules for her to follow, a list he insisted be re-read every day. It was literally an inventory of jobs demanding: what time she must get up in morning, when breakfast was to be served, how housework was to be done. Not wanting to upset her husband, the wife went along with his demands, including the daily re-reading of the list. Then with a heavy heart she'd tuck the list away to be read again the next day. Morning by morning, week after week, on and on it went for years until the day the husband died and she was set free. In time she met another man, very different from the first. Soon they were married. This husband dearly loved her and was more than a dream come true! Day after day he showered her with love and appreciation. One day while cleaning, she came across an old folded up note tucked away in a drawer. It was the
do and don't list. As she read the list a warm feeling began to rise in her heart and it dawned on her . . . she was doing 'almost to a t' the things on the list. But what a difference! All of those things being done, not out of obligation, but out of love.
Reflect upon your life for a moment: Where do you see yourself in the story? Are you someone whose life is really just 'doing out of obligation'? Perhaps you are the one controlling others. Or maybe you are the one set free and who now frees others? Reflect for yourself . . . Are you living your life out of obligation or love?
In only a few weeks, it will have been 601 years since a time when Christianity was corrupted by 'bad' theology. That bad theology included teaching people that they must do good works in order to have God's love and approval. Martin Luther helped lead the way out of those dark times by his actions and words on behalf of the gospel. Thus the epistle read by the church at Reformation,
Then I saw another angel flying overhead, with the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth - to every nation and tribe and tongue and people. Revelation 14.6
The general teaching of Martin Luther can be summarized in three short phrases:
Grace Alone - Faith Alone - Scripture Alone. Let's have a look at . . . GRACE.
In Ephesians 2.8 we read,
For you have been saved by grace through faith, and this the gift of God.
Salvation by grace through faith in Christ is perhaps the most common Reformation saying among Lutherans. In catechism we learned that grace is God's undeserved favor. Martin Luther once wrote,
Although out of pure grace God does not impute our sins to us, He nonetheless did not want to do this until complete and ample satisfaction of His law and His righteousness had been made. Since this was impossible for us to do, God ordained for us, one who took upon Himself all the punishment we deserve. He fulfilled the law for us. He averted the judgment of God from us and appeased God's wrath. Grace therefore, which costs us nothing, cost another much to get on our behalf. Grace was purchased with an incalculable, infinite treasure, the Son of God Himself.
One of the presenters at our fall pastors conferences commented that up to 90% of those who walk through the door to counseling are people who feel alone and unloved. Lonely and unloved, and realize it or not what they are looking for can be found only in Jesus Christ. Only in the church can we find God's truth, His immediate presence - care - love and purpose as we Witness, Mercy, and Life Together. Jesus said,
The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that you might have life, and have it in all its fullness. Engraved in back of church is his Scripture:
But you have come to Mt. Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering. Our risen Savior's speaking and presence are the center of worship. His sprinkled blood speaks better things to us: forgiveness, life, and salvation. And that dear friend . . . is all GRACE!
~ Pastor Kelly Mitteis
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