Devotional article for The Greybull Standard
and The Republican Rustler
Worth celebrating …
October 31st of 1517 is remembered as the day Martin Luther had his 95 Theses against the Trade of Indulgences posted on the Cathedral door in Wittenberg. It is also considered the beginning of the Reformation – which is well worth remembering.
With all the changes that came with the Reformation, in church as well as in society, the Reformation itself was nothing less than the rediscovery of the Gospel, that truth from God which sets the worship of the only true God apart from all idolatry, namely that, as it is written in the Letter to the Romans, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Now, this sounds to good to be true; “freely by His grace”. Human nature is to seek goodness on our own. The evil one taught our first parents that we should be like God and master good and evil ourselves. And that is what is in our hearts; that, and not to allow for God to be that good.
We do not have it in us to believe a such glorious promise as the Gospel. We prefer to be right with God through our own goodness and godliness. We cannot accept to have all things good given to us all out of His goodness. We will not accept to be helpless before God, as Holy Scripture says it that we are.
That is why the Gospel is so easily forgotten, even by those who want to be Christian – as it was before the Reformation; as it was by most of the Protestant world almost immediately afterward. So easily the Gospel of God is overshadowed by our own thoughts as to exactly how to do that which Holy Scripture says that we cannot do: make ourselves right with God by being good and godly.
Nothing other than despair can come from our attempts at making ourselves right with God – at least not for those of us who are willing to be honest with ourselves, and honest to God.
Luther knew of that kind of despair, as did so many others in his day and age. And it was a great relief to learn it anew, that although all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It always is.
The Son of God has lived for us the life we owe it to God to live. And He has borne the wrath and judgement of God for our failure to live that life ourselves. And now He declares us to be right with Him and righteous before His judgement – “justified” – all freely and for nothing, out of His goodness alone, because of what He has done. He is that good!
This precious Gospel brings assurance of salvation to those who will hear it. It sets Christians free from that despair which honest Christians cannot possible escape otherwise – not as long as we think that there is something we need to do, and do right, to be right with God. More than that, it also means that we actually shall be with God forever in His Kingdom and His eternal life. And the Gospel gives God the glory that is His. It casts our own efforts and attempts completely out of the way and gives God alone the glory for our salvation. And that is how God wants to be honoured – because our salvation is so important to Him. Holy Scripture makes that very clear.
That is why we in our churches have once again bothered to celebrate the Gospel rediscovered – even though we did so last Sunday rather than on the exact day. Well, that is really what we do every Sunday. God is well worth His glory. And our salvation is worth celebrating.
Pastor Jais H. Tinglund
Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem