Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reformation Sunday Romans 3:19-28

And we know that whatever the Law says, to those in the Law it speaks, in order that every mouth may be shut, and all the world become liable to judgment in God. Through that, out of the works of the Law all flesh will not be made righteous before Him, for through the Law–knowledge of sin. And now, separate from the Law, righteousness of God is revealed, witnessed by the Torah and the Prophets, and righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ, into all the ones believing, for there is no difference, for all miss the mark & lack the reflection of God, being made righteous–a gift in His grace through the ransoming–the one in Christ Jesus; Whom God placed before–a appeasement through faith in His blood, into a demonstration of His righteousness, through the letting go of sins unpunished which were done before; in the holding back of God, to the demonstration of His righteousness in the now-season, into Him being righteous, and making righteous the one having the faith of Jesus. Where then, the bragging? Excluded. Through what Law? Of the works? No, but through a law of faith. For we consider a man to be made righteous in faith, separate from works of the Law. 

This week we celebrate a holiday which embraces what is alien, that which seem strange, things that appear weird, foreign notions to what we consider normal–a holiday that celebrates uniqueness and difference. Of course the holiday I'm talking about is...Reformation Day! Yes, October 31st is the day the Lutheran reformation began as Martin Luther shook up the establishment church of his day by daring to debate the teachings and practices of Rome. By doing so, Lutherans favor what is alien. 

Alien?! Really? Yes. I know what you are thinking, that things alien are no good. When the aliens from Mars attacked in War of the Worlds with their heat rays, that was bad. When illegal aliens cross the border to take our jobs, use up our welfare, and send money back to their homeland, that is bad. But not everything foreign or alien is bad. Sometimes the cuisine from other lands is downright tasty! So we do well to appreciate the alien things, the foreign things which the Lutheran reformation embraces.

You see, the Roman church of Luther's day needed a reformation. It had embraced the common notion that doing good gets you into heaven, and doing evil sends you to the other place. So the Roman church pushed self-righteousness on all the people. You had to do this, jump through that hoop, avoid this other thing, and strive, struggle, and strain yourself until you did enough. But you never did. So they placed you in the fictitious place called purgatory to burn your sins from you first.

But this was not what God taught in His word, Luther noted. The Bible talked about salvation by grace, through faith, and not of your works, but instead, a gift through the ransoming in Jesus at the cross. Where the Roman church had veered from its moorings in scripture over time, Luther rediscovered the truth of salvation as true gift, purchased and won by Christ alone at Calvary. Where the Roman church made you into some sort of co-Savior, Luther returned Jesus to status as sole-Savior! 

This notion was not really anything new, but it was foreign to how the Roman church had been teaching for centuries. It seemed so weird & strange to so many who were ignorant of what God actually taught in Scripture. These alien notions of Luther caused him to be condemned as a heretic. But his conscience was held captive to God's Word alone, and he and his fellow Lutherans stood firm to this seemingly foreign and alien notion which the supreme Pope just would not tolerate.

But in Luther's case, *alien* was "good"! For the works which save you from sin, death and from the power of the devil are not your own. You can't seek self-righteousness in order to please God, so He'll let you into His heaven one day. For that you'd have to be perfect for your whole lifetime! You haven't been even close. Even your best efforts at righteousness, Isaiah calls "filthy rags" in God's sight. You can't ever make yourself good enough to earn eternal life. You can't do enough to merit heaven.

Since your own righteousness will never measure up, you must have a completely different sort of righteousness. Yes you need a righteousness that is "foreign" to you. You require an "alien" righteousness, one that is far removed from yourself. For this God is your righteousness. Your righteousness is found in Christ Jesus. He is the only Righteous One Who kept the commandments perfectly. Jesus alone did all the right things to earn heaven. It's all about Him being righteous for you!

Jesus traded your sins for His righteousness at the cross. He gives you faith in His blood, shed for you for your forgiveness. You are made righteous by God in faith, by Christ's alien righteousness to save you! .


Hymns for today from LSB:

#578  Thy Strong Word  stanzas to sing along
#655  Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word
#555  Salvation Unto Us has Come   stanzas
#656  A Mighty Fortress is Our God from Psalm 46

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