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 held accountable to God. Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
But, now, apart from the law of righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. The 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. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding his blood – to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. – Romans 3: 19-26
Sunday past was Reformation Sunday. Each year, many churches, particularly the Lutheran Church, set aside the last Sunday in October to commemorate the Reformation.
What is the Reformation? It all started with a Catholic monk named Martin Luther who was German by nationality. In 1517, Martin Luther posted what is called his 95 Theses on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg, Germany. These Theses were grievances Luther had with the Catholic Church.
He posted them on October 31, which was the eve of All Saints Day. His intention was that the people would read them when they attended church the next day, November 1, All Saints Day.
Luther’s Theses outlined certain grievances which he felt was taking the church in the wrong direction, especially with regards to salvation. At the time, Pope Leo X, had engaged a Dominican friar and papal commissioner, Johann Tetzel, to sell indulgences to raise funds to complete the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Accordingly, through the purchase of indulgence, the church provided an individual a certificate confirming that that person’s deceased family member’s soul was released from the torcher of purgatory, a holding place for soul, and went on to heaven.
Luther disagreed with this practice and made it clear in his 95 grievances. This eventually got Luther excommunicated from the Catholic Church. However, many Christians in Germany and other nations in Europe agreed with Luther; consequently, the Lutheran Church and other denominations were given birth.
The Reformation points us to the most important eternal truth you will ever be given. That truth comes to us from God, the father, who, out of love for his creation, sent Jesus the Christ into the world to redeem the human race from sin.
Paul’s epistle, or letter to the Romans, chapter 3:19-28, served as Luther’s authority from Scripture. Through the scripture, he pointed out that we do not come to saving grace because of our good deeds.
Scripture tells us in Isaiah 64:6: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
It does not matter how good we think we are – we fall short. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Because we consistently fall short, we need Jesus. In him we have everlasting life.
Through the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ, God demonstrated his justice. Even though we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we are justified freely by his grace.
No, it is not what we have done. It is all because of what Jesus has done through his suffering, death and resurrection.
In initiating the Reformation, Luther helped the church to see God’s love for his creation. Yes, we serve a gracious God, who only wants good for us. We cannot do a thing to warrant his love or his grace. He gives it all to us freely.
That is the point of the Reformation. Jesus Christ is the answer. When we place our faith in Jesus our savior, God declares us righteous. Yes, we are justified by faith. That is from God’s word, the benchmark of life and faith. Amen.
• Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Dr can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone 426-9084; website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.