Don’t forget Reformation Day!
It’s happening earlier and earlier each year. This year it was August! In August, I saw the first Christmas decorations on display at our local Sam’s Club. We start thinking about Christmas so early each year that we skip over a number of other holidays. Of course, you would think about Thanksgiving and Halloween. But we celebrate a special day in the Lutheran Church that very few other people celebrate: Reformation Day. Before we start thinking about Christmas or Thanksgiving, let’s take some time to understand and appreciate what we celebrate on Reformation Day.
The Reformation has given us a great, rich heritage to celebrate as Bible believing Christians. Perhaps the two greatest gifts we still enjoy today is the truth of God’s Word and a proper understanding of righteousness and grace. Let’s not ever take these two truths for granted.
Before the time of Martin Luther, the Bible was written in Latin. The problem is that the people spoke German and only the most educated among them could read Latin. It’s hard for us to imagine with Bibles so readily available to order or even through our tablets and devices that there was a time when people didn’t have access to God’s Word. They had to rely on what the priests and pastors were telling them, which unfortunately wasn’t always true. What a rich treasure we have to hear God’s word spoken in our own language when we gather for worship. What a joy to be able to open our own Bible at home or pick up our tablet during our lunch break to read for ourselves what God tells us in his word. May we never take this for granted!
Along with that, what a treasure for us to have a correct understanding of righteousness and grace. Previous to the Reformation, the church was teaching that in order to meet the standard of righteousness (perfection) which God demanded, you had to perform so many good works. Grace wasn’t even part of the equation. Your righteousness before God depended on the good things which you did. The problem, though, is that no one could do enough good things to be righteous before God. There is no one who can match the standard of perfection. What a feeling of despair was felt to keep reaching for something that you can never attain!
Until God revealed the truth of his grace in his Word. Grace is undeserved love. Righteousness comes to us not because we earn or deserve it, but simply because it is a gift from God in heaven above.
What relief and joy fills our hearts to hear God declare our sins forgiven and forgotten because of Jesus our Savior and know he loves us simply because he has chosen to do so. What a treasure God has given to us in understanding his grace and the righteousness God gives to us through faith. St. Paul said it so clearly in Romans 3, “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:21-24.
While many skip right past the other holidays to get to Christmas, may we stop to enjoy the treasure and heritage that is ours through the Reformation of the Church.
Pastor Martin Spaude
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