Wednesday, October 23, 2019
It's the Time of Year:
Fall colors are either in full bloom or, in my case, just starting. The weather is finally cooling off enough to have to think about wearing a jacket.
At the same time it is the season for reformation. It is the season for new life and a new start.
And for Martin Luther, on All Hallow's Eve, October 31, 1517, he posted his "95 Theses" to the church door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Luther wanted to debate, or discuss, 95 points of view that he saw as problems in the Roman Catholic Church that needed reforming. What he didn't expect was a firestorm that was God's doing to bring His Church back to the core. And that is,
Faith alone, and no activity or work we can ever do, will get us a relationship with God. Grace alone, and not my "works" that I do, opens the door to faith. For it is the grace of God through Jesus Christ that I am saved. And it is Scripture Alone that teaches, shares, shows, and convicts my heart and life to the will of God. The Holy Spirit works through His Word, and His Word alone, to bring people to the salvation given by Jesus.
And Martin Luther discovered this revelation when he was preparing for his lectures at the University of Wittenberg on the letter to the Roman church. Here is an excerpt from the letter from Romans 3:19-22a:
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no one is declared righteous before Him by the works of the law, for through the las comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law, the righteousness of God, which is attested by the law and the prophets, has been disclosed, namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.
This was a trigger for Martin Luther to dive more into Scripture and find that our relationship with God is NOT based upon our works. It is based upon God through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Our life with God is a gift from Him.
We know, through the Word, Scripture alone, the work of God for us. Time after time God rescued His people from themselves. Yes, He had to discipline the children in order to get them to see God's rescue. And when they finally saw it, they repented of their sins, for Faith alone leads people to see that. Then God, through Grace alone, forgives and cleanses us from all unrighteousness through the body and blood of Jesus.
This is the core of Christianity that Luther rediscovered. This is the core of Christianity in which we live.
As Luther wanted, let us debate this, shall we?
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Stir Up Some Conversation:
I hope that my post today will stir some conversation regarding the topic and how we use said topic.
For us Lutheran Christians, the topic of the Lord's Supper is the most intimate gift that God gave to us. For we believe that Jesus' body and blood are truly present in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We believe that Jesus' body and blood mysteriously and miraculously occupy the same space and time as the bread and wine. We believe that we receive Jesus' body and blood in order to receive forgiveness of our sins.
Why Do We Believe This?
Because He said so.
Please listen to St. Paul recount what Jesus said from 1st Corinthians 11:24-26.
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup in the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. (the emphasis is mine)
"The cup" refers to the cup of wine used in Jesus' Last Supper with His Apostles. It was wine used in the original Passover meal that celebrated the remembrance of God's deliverance of the nation of Israel from their slavery at the hands of the Egyptians.
So the Lord's Supper is connected to the deliverance of people. Specifically, it is Jesus' body and blood that delivers us from sin, death, hell, and the influence of Satan.
The Bottom Line:
Jesus says that the bread and wine and His body and blood are together. When we receive it we proclaim Jesus' death until He returns. And what did Jesus' death do? It forgave our sins. It is as simple as that.
Do you have any thoughts? Comment? Let's get a conversation started.
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Have you ever known something that you did was wrong?
Did you rationalize it? Did you blame someone else? Did you ever try to cover it up?
YES, YES, AND YES.
This is what King David did.
He had an adulterous relationship with the wife of one of his trusted soldiers. Then David found out the woman, Bathsheba, was pregnant. In order to try and hide his relationship, David brought Uriah back from the war for a "three day pass." David was hoping that Uriah would be with his wife, his wife would tell Uriah that she was pregnant and David's relationship with Bathsheba would be a "non issue."
The plan didn't work. Uriah didn't spend the time with Bathsheba. So David had to devise another lie in order to hide his sin.
He ordered the soldiers to step away from Uriah in the heat of battle so that Uriah would be killed. And Uriah was. David thought he was in the clear. He took Bathsheba to be his wife.
So Was David in the Clear?
No he wasn't. David's pastor, Nathan, confronted David with the sins of lust, coveting, adultery, and murder. David could hide his sin from men. He could never hide his sin from God.
So David Wrote Psalm 51
Today's passage is a portion of Psalm 51. It is David's plea to forgive him.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
David was forgiven. David's heart was cleaned through his confession of sin and the mercy of God. His life was restored with salvation and joy. David's life remained in the presence of God.
Confession and Absolution:
There is no sense to try and hide sin from God. It can't happen. It will be found out. Your best course of action is to confess your sin to God. God will take away your sin. He did it already through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. HE removed your sin from you and through it on the cross. And there it stay. Sin confessed is sin forgiven.
Does That Mean We're Free and Clear?
Yes. Your sin is gone. Your life was change. You have a new spirit in your life. God is always with you.
And no. Sin always carries consequences. What happened to David and Bathsheba? Even though David was forgiven, there was a consequence to his sin. The son, who was conceived in the adulterous relationship, died.
You may struggle with consequences with your sin. Yet that struggle is tempered by the new life you were giving by God.
Did you know that God suffered consequences of forgiving you of your sins? Jesus died so that your sins are forgiven. That is the result of forgiveness. AND Jesus rose so that we who died to sin will rise to new life as well.
Pastor Robert Hemsath joined Faith Lutheran Church and School as the Senior Pastor in January 2017. Pastor Hemsath comes to FLC from Christ the King Lutheran Church in Waxahachie, TX. He has also served congregations in Aberdeen, ID and Pocatello, ID. He has been a Lutheran pastor for the past 20 years.