Fwd: The Lutheran Hour: October 25, 2015 "Reformation Freedom, Reformation Faith"

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Subject: The Lutheran Hour: October 25, 2015 "Reformation Freedom, Reformation Faith"

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"Reformation Freedom, Reformation Faith" #83-08

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on October 25, 2015
By Rev. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
(Raising Kids Today, Help?)
Copyright 2015 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: Romans 1:16-17

Our text for today is Romans, chapter 1. "I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. For in the Gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed; a righteousness that is by faith from first to last. Just as it is written, 'the just shall live by faith.'"

To Him Who was, Who is, and Who is coming again and calls us to a life of faith. Amen.
If you saw this job opportunity in the paper, would you take it? "Needed: courageous, fearless individual to proclaim a message from God Himself. Qualifications: a humble obedience to the message which is given, a love for God and for His people, and a willingness to speak the message, 'the just will live by faith' to anyone who will listen. The pay: generous care for those who will believe in the message and the constant opposition and hatred of those who will not believe. P.S. They could be members of your own congregation-both of them. Warning: God's work could get dangerous-even the original Messenger was crucified for the Message. But the fringe benefits and the eternal life insurance plans are excellent." Would you take the job? 

You see, every generation, every church, every one of us is called to that kind of faith; that kind of discipleship, and that's what it means to be a follower of Christ. And as we've been celebrating on this trip, there was this man named Martin Luther, about 500 years ago, who said, "I'd stake my life on that." And even in this place where we're celebrating today, St. Matthew; we know of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said, "I'd stake my life on that," and he did. 

We're talking about people who risked life and limb so that people like you and me could come to know the joy of the Good News of Jesus as our own message, as our Lord and Savior. They were willing to share that forgiveness with anyone who would listen; to take up the responsibility of not just living a graced life but a graced life for others.

You know the Reformation was a call for the church, Christ's church, to become Christ's church for others again. What a challenge. And that's why Jesus says it very simply, "If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." And that's exactly what happened when Luther rediscovered the Good News of the Gospel; the freedom that comes by faith in Christ. 

You see the Reformation; the Reformation brought a freedom of faith. It brought a freedom of faith back into the people's lives, the church's lives, even the community's lives. And that was a freedom that literally came because of your reconnection and reconciliation to God. 
You see, a lie had rooted itself in the community of that day. What was the lie? Do you remember? Indulgences. What were indulgences? Indulgences were when people were told "you can actually buy your forgiveness of sins. Yeah, I know you are doing some sinful things. I know you've got some guilt, but you pay a little of this and you pay a little of that, and all that stuff will be wiped away." The lie was that sinful people could pay off God. Or the lie was that sin had no consequences at all. 

And then up steps this pious monk. He was a simple guy. Remember we talked about that when we were in the monastery. He was a simple person who was actually running away from things. He just wanted to be a nobody who got right with God. And God took that nobody who discovered the Gospel, and then he said to those who thought they were buying God off with their indulgences, "You're missing the whole point." 

He watched his people. He wasn't just a pious monk, he was a pastor. He was one who really cared about his people and he watched them actually buying these indulgences thinking that they could then go and sin as much as they wanted because they had a get-out-of-jail-free card. And he knew they were actually building jails of spirituality. They were actually leaping towards eternal death. What they thought was freedom was the opposite; and out of love he called out and pointed out the lie. 

And you saw today the place where he nailed the theses. It wasn't a protest. It was a call to God's people to come home to the grace and the good news of Jesus. 

They were taught that sin was inconsequential; that you could overcome it, that you could dismiss it. What a lie. But haven't we been taught a similar lie in our day? Now we don't have people running around buying indulgences. I know that doesn't happen anymore. But we have people now today who think there is nothing to pay anyway. It's guiltless sins. No sins at all. No price to pay ever. In fact, I just heard someone the other day say, "As long as I'm happy with what I'm doing, that's all that matters." And they even get mad if God tells them otherwise.

Wow! How did we get there? Then as now, Christ's Word and Christ's offer of grace went unheeded. Right? It was being missed and Luther knew that sin was not merely just mistakes; sin was an enemy of freedom. It was the cyanide of selfishness. It was the arsenic of anger. And it was designed to kill you inside out eternally. He warned them. He said, "Be careful what you lay your hands on. Be careful what you bring into your heart because it has consequences." 

It was Niagara Falls. It was a cold, wintry morning and this guy was walking down the river and he was enjoying his morning walk. And as he came by the river, he saw something floating towards the falls. It was a carcass of an animal that had fallen in somewhere down the way and now it was heading towards its ultimate demise. And as he was watching this thing, it was like "wow" and he was overwhelmed by the moment. Then he looked up and what did he see above him? He saw this eagle; majestic, high, and lifted up. And he was watching that thing and he thought, "Uh-oh. That eagle sees that." 

And so in this incredible power moment, he watched that eagle swoop down and stuck its talons, these huge talons, into this carcass, and it was starting to try to lift off. But, then, suddenly he realized the eagle wasn't making any headway there. And he was watching this thing transpire as it headed right for the edge of Niagara Falls. And you know what happens when you head for the edge of Niagara Falls on a cold wintry morning. It not only was misting up, but that mist was freezing up. But that eagle wouldn't let go. And it was trying even harder and harder and harder; and then he watched as the thing came right to the edge as the water started freezing on its wings and both of them headed to their icy grave.

Wow! Be careful what you lay your hands on. Be careful what you sink your talons into. He who sins is a slave to sin and the wages of sin is death. Something greater was needed. Sin must be destroyed. Forgiveness must be real. God must do it and He did it for you and for me in Jesus Christ. If you're listening today, this is the God Who loves you. This is the God Who cares for you. This is the God Who's got a joyful, abundant life in store for you. And that's what Luther rediscovered. That's what he discovered. Not some religious thing, but a Savior Who came for him. 

Righteousness was demanded and Christ paid the price. Sin was a reality to be overcome and Christ overcame it for you and me. The greatest human need is to be reconciled to God so that you can live the life He has for you now and forever and Christ offers that as a gift for all who believe. 

So the Reformation message was very simple, wasn't it? The just shall live by faith. Now that's simple but it's really profound when you think about it. I'm not talking about faith in self. If you're listening today, there's a specific meaning of faith. It's not faith in self, but faith in God in Jesus Christ for Who He is. 

I know that's foolishness in our nihilistic, self-centered world. And all of us are a bit nihilistic and self-centered in our hearts. So God's calling all of us to the gracious life of faith. It's the power of God at work in our lives. So that's what Paul is talking about. This is the power of God. Why, because it comes by faith and when it comes by faith, that means justice is dealt with.

This is powerful stuff because Christ dealt with the things that we need to deal with in our lives and in our world. Real justice is needed so that there can be real mercy in your life. Did you ever notice that? You need both. But when it comes to us trying to be just or merciful, we always get it messed up.

Maybe this happens in your life sometimes. When people really are overwhelmed by their burdens and their guilt, you know what people tend to do instead of saying God's blessing you and God mercifully forgives you? We tend to pile on. "Well, you should have known better." So when someone finally admits that they need, we pile on and say, "Yeah, you were really wrong." And then I see it the other way too when people really are doing the wrong things, no one says a word to them. We just let them go on their merry way. 

We always seem to say the wrong thing, or to say it at the wrong time, or to pile on, or not say what should be said. That's because we're sinful people. But on Good Friday, God didn't just say more. On Good Friday He said it all because on Good Friday perfect justice was accomplished. Jesus Christ was punished for our sins so that perfect mercy could be unleashed on the world. The mercy and righteousness and joy that He deserved was given to you and me. 

It's the power of God. "The just will live by faith." That's the power of God. Why, because only faith in Jesus saves. I'm going to say that again. I know our world doesn't want to hear this, but this is an invitation to anybody listening. Only faith in Jesus Christ saves. 

We teach this. The object of faith is the power of faith, not how much you believe something. It's whether that object is worthy of faith. And that's why the Bible is clear. We believe in Jesus Christ alone and that's what Luther taught. Grace alone, faith alone, in Christ alone. 

Some today have faith in their companies. They've got faith in their jobs, faith in their societies, faith in their politics, faith in their money, faith in their wealth, their relationships. They even have faith in themselves. All those things eventually come to nothing. Haven't we seen that on this trip? Yes.

So the Reformation brought the real question back. What's sustaining you today? And the Bible says it's Jesus Christ that will hold. It's Jesus Christ; there's power in that faith because Jesus Christ is the source of it all. 

We've seen a lot of World War II stuff, haven't we in this trip? We were in Dachau and I was amazed again by those stories, especially when that doctor made promises to really strong and hardy men. Remember that crazy doctor who actually had experiments on people. Do you remember that? But he got strong, strapping, healthy people to participate in these crazy experiments because he promised them freedom. What did he ultimately give them? Death.

It reminded me of a story again as I was thinking about all this World War II kind of context. It was the siege. When you think about war, there's always times of war that are just incredible. Remember the Siege of Leningrad where the people were actually growing hungry and as I remember that story being told about it; they were down to their last morsels of bread. They almost had nothing else to eat and then someone made this discovery. They said, "We've got wallpaper paste and we've got sawdust; and if you kind of heat it up and cook it, it looks like...bread." 

And so they made all these loaves. And what did they start doing? They started eating and it filled their stomachs. And for a moment the hunger pains went away, but what happened? They were still starving to death because it wasn't bread. It had no nutrients. And eventually thousands died eating those pieces of bread or those morsels that looked like bread. But there was nothing there. 

As we as believers are on this pilgrimage, we're reminded that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. And that Martin Luther actually brought the good news of the Gospel back to the western world. This is the food that sustains. This is the message that heals. We're privileged to know Jesus Christ by grace through faith; and the just shall live by faith. 

So don't just celebrate Reformation. Don't just celebrate it today. I mean it's okay to celebrate it; I'm not saying that you can't just tip one for Martin Luther, but don't celebrate it-live it. 

Almost 500 years ago, a monk, a simple, pious monk tacked something on a church door because he cared about his people and he knew the power of this Jesus Christ and all that that means in knowing Him.

So, every Reformation I want you to realize that there are three Reformers and to celebrate this. The first Reformer is our heavenly Father Who made real freedom possible when He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins; Who makes daily this freedom possible for all who believe. Every one of you listening today, this offer is for you because of Who God is for you in Jesus Christ. 

And on Reformation Day we celebrate another Reformer, Martin Luther, who risked life and limb to proclaim the message that all who are redeemed by God; it is by grace alone, through faith, you can count on it. 

And the third person? Is you. The third person is you. You were reformed on your Baptism day. God literally buried your sins on the cross with Jesus Christ and He now raises you up in the waters of new life of your Baptism. You've had your Reformation Day; now live that Reformation life so that all might know that Jesus Christ is your Savior too. That's the freedom that comes in Jesus Christ alone, by faith alone, through the Scripture alone, in Christ alone. As it is written, "The just shall live by faith" and in this land of Luther, and in this church of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's ordination, I'd stake my life on it and now you can too.
In the Name of Jesus everyone say, "Amen." 

LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for October 25, 2015
Topic: Raising Kids Today, Help?

ANNOUNCER: Now, Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions from listeners. I'm Mark Eischer. Pastor, a listener says, "With all the temptations today, the moral confusion in society, how can we as Christians raise our children to get through all of this?" 
SELTZ: Wow, it sounds like he's saying, "Help!" Mark, I sure can hear the pain of this parent who listens. With TV, movies, songs constantly challenging our children to have sex for fun, party till you drop, encouraging them not to listen to their parents, or just listen to your feelings, your friends.
ANNOUNCER: It is tough to guide children through that.
SELTZ: It is, but that's our role as parents. As the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he will go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." The key here is first to realize that you have a sacred duty to instill the things of God in those you cherish, especially your children. 
ANNOUNCER: And realizing that there will be challenges, right?
SELTZ: There are. But there are tremendous spiritual resources available to us as parents to do that job as well. By the way, no one is perfect in this and each child is unique.
ANNOUNCER: Which means that what works for one child may not work for another?
SELTZ: That's true. But there are some truths that are the same for all, even if the applying of those truths still might be different from one child to the next.
ANNOUNCER: Okay. What would you say are some of these common things we all need to remember? 
SELTZ: First, training up the child has to do with making sure they see things from God's perspective in their lives. They need to know how precious they are to God, how unique they are because of Him as well as the way He thinks they should go. That's His way, not necessarily the way you and I as parents think they should go. Each one is a unique person on God's terms, so applying the truths of the Bible to them is going to require some customization, if you know what I mean.
ANNOUNCER: But, sometimes, even when you understand the unique differences between one child and the next, there will still be problems. 
SELTZ: That's the time when you have to parent. That's the time when you have to guide even though they may not understand or agree. To do that, they do need to see that your faith is a real thing for you too. They need to see that you take church seriously, you take grace and forgiveness seriously, and you cherish the things that you are trying to instill in them, namely the truth of God's Word, faith in Jesus, His forgiveness, as well as the joy of following His teaching in obedience. That lived out faith, I think that's what builds a respect for your position as parent, one that your child needs to see as well as hear.
ANNOUNCER: And as it's been said, "You can't give away what you don't have."
SELTZ: Absolutely. Yet none of this "let's drop junior off so he or she can get some moral teaching" at church while we go do something else on Sunday morning. They will eventually see right through that and do as they please following your example, actually, in a negative way.
ANNOUNCER: But, we also have to do more for our kids than just provide a good example. 
SELTZ: We do, and that's why it's important to talk to your kids about the things of God, the teachings of the Bible, and try to explain why trusting in Christ is a very good thing for them. Yes, there is forgiveness for our children if they mess up, but there's still so much more pain that comes with poor choices when they're growing up. We need to be there to explain why it's better for them to act this way, or speak this way, or guard our emotions or feelings this way rather than another. If they think that Jesus really loves them and wants what's best for them, even wants them to be the best that they can be with their unique gifts and life; that's pretty hard to turn away from forever.
ANNOUNCER: It sounds like this is an everyday thing, not just a once and a while chat.
SELTZ: And I think that's where it can be tough. But, if we love our kids, we need to make sure that we make time to be together with them regularly, make sure that we know what's going on in their lives, then set guidelines with them, hold them accountable to those guidelines, and practice what we preach with our spouses, with our friends, as well as with them. They are just too important to us not to. And finally of course, lay all these concerns constantly before God in prayer.
ANNOUNCER: Because, after all, He cares for our children even more than we do.
SELTZ: Exactly. That's the goal of all of this; to be a family here, yes; but to be a family forever with Christ our Lord and Savior. Trust that God can do that with you and your kids.
ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Action in Ministry for October 25, 2015 
Troy Teuscher

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is the segment of the program we call Action in Ministry. Pastor, when we examine ourselves as you suggest we do in today's sermon; we'll always find ourselves falling short of what God expects and demands.
SELTZ: Yeah, as we think also, Mark, about this, this week, the 16th century Reformation, thinking back. It's fitting to remember the life of Martin Luther and how his awareness of his own falling short eventually lead to his rediscovery of God's grace and forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. 
ANNOUNCER: And we have a great resource that provides an overview of that story. It's a booklet titled, A Treasure Revealed-Martin Luther and the Events of the Reformation, and in just a moment I will tell you more about that. But first I want to introduce our colleague, Troy Teuscher. He's a videographer who worked with Pastor Seltz on a trip to Germany. Troy, welcome to this side of the camera. 
TEUSCHER: Thank you. It's good to be here.
SELTZ: Troy, listen; it was great having you as part of the crew in Germany. I had a blast with you and you did such a great job with us. But I have to say you're also a church historian and you are a student of theology, and I'm excited to have you here with us today to share some of our experiences in Germany and this fascinating story of Martin Luther.
TEUSCHER: Yeah, it was amazing just to be there and walk where Luther walked and to see all those sights. 
ANNOUNCER: Troy, as a student of history, what is your impression of the motivation, the key events that sparked the Reformation?
TEUSCHER: You could say that the Reformation hinged on one key word and that word is metanoia; a Greek word which means repentance. But the church at that time translated that word as "do penance". 
SELTZ: Right, and in a lot of ways there is a different view of God in that mistranslation; in be repentant and receive God's grace as a gift and all those things that Luther rediscovered. But Martin Luther also found himself at odds with the most powerful institution of his day and as a good scholar and academic, and a pastor, he did the scholarly thing to do; he wanted to debate on these things; on the subject of penances and indulgences, right?
TEUSCHER: Right; and nailing the ninety-five theses to the church door is not a provocative act. That is a standard thing that you would do if you wanted to call for a debate in a university town. And he wrote the ninety-five theses in Latin and somebody took those, translated them into German, and then using the new printing press; the ninety-five theses found their way all over Europe. 
ANNOUNCER: What other factors do you think contributed to the spread of Luther's ideas?
TEUSCHER: Well, there also was a lot of stuff going on at the time. You have Pope Leo X who was a very secular Pope. He was more concerned about being a patron of the arts. And then you have Martin Luther who is in what is now Germany, at a time when they were the most pious they have ever been and he joined the strictest order that he could find and he was probably the most pious monk of the strictest order in Germany at that time. 
SELTZ: So a lot of things had to fall in place for this to really go viral, right?
TEUSCHER: Yeah. Yeah, and the printing press was one of those and so, yeah, you could say that the Reformation went viral before there was a viral. It really was. And the way they used mass communication was just amazing and hadn't been done at that time. They would use pictures. They would make pamphlets, and they would have a picture of the Pope, of people kissing the Pope's ring, and then they would show a picture next to that of Jesus washing His disciples' feet. Well, even if you couldn't read, which was most of the people, they got it. 
SELTZ: Do penance versus be repentant and receive the gift of this Savior. You can see it in pictures, right?
SELTZ: When we were at Wartburg where Luther was hidden away spent a year studying, translating the Bible in German so that the German people could read it like you were talking about, and that act changed all of Christendom. We couldn't help but be humbled by the faith of this man, his act of boldness ensuring the Word of God. How did that make you feel when we were literally walking where he walked?
TEUSCHER: We take the Reformation for granted today because we are so far removed from it, but it probably had the biggest impact on western society more than anything else. 
ANNOUNCER: Listeners, if you would like to see Germany through Troy's viewfinder, as it were, we invite you to go to our website. We've got some extra footage there from that trip. Go to lutheranhour.org, look for the Action in Ministry tab and that will take you to that spot. I should also mention at this time, Pastor Seltz, that you're going to be leading a tour over to these Luther sites in April of 2016, so call for more information on that.
SELTZ: Be a part of that with us because there is so much more to the story than we can share today; and Troy, I just love seeing it through your eyes and with you today. Thanks for being here.
TEUSCHER: Thanks for having me.
ANNOUNCER: The name of the booklet is A Treasure Revealed-Martin Luther and the Events of the Reformation. For your free copy, call the Lutheran Hour toll free: 1-800-555-6236. That's 1-800-555-6236. Or go online: lutheranhour.org and look for the tab that says Action in Ministry. Our email address is: info@lhm.org. 

Music Selections for this program:

"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"Preserve Your Word, O Savior" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)



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