504th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation

October 31, 2021


Our Reformation Faith:   We Have Been Saved

by Grace Alone

through Faith Alone

on the basis of Scripture Alone




Martin Luther’s SEAL

(Pictured above)

            Martin Luther never compiled a comprehensive theological textbook (referred to in his time as a “Loci,” or as a “dogmatics textbook” in ours) in which he might have spelled out the truths and implications of the doctrine of justification, along with Scripture’s other teachings, as he learned them from his study of God’s Word.   However, Luther did produce something that he called  “my compendium of theology.”   This visual, rather than verbal, declaration is also known as Martin Luther’s Seal.   The Reformer designed it as a simple way to visually express the essential components of the Scriptural theology that he confessed…namely, the teaching that sinners are justified – forgiven fully, freely, and forever  — solely through the grace of God, by faith in Christ Jesus alone.  

            In a personal letter to a friend, Lazarus Spengler, Luther explained the meanings behind the various elements of his seal:

            “There is first to be a cross, black and placed in a heart, which should be in its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us.  For if one believes from the heart, he will be justified.   Even though it is a black cross, which mortifies and which also should hurt us, yet it leaves the heart in its natural color and does not ruin its nature;   that is, the cross does not kill but keeps alive.   For the just man lives by faith in the Crucified One.                                                     (Galatians 6:14)

            Such a heart is to be in the midst of a white rose, to symbolize that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace; in a word, it places the believer into a joyful white rose;   for this faith does not give peace and joy as the world gives and, therefore, the rose is to be white and not red, for white is the color of spirits and of all the angels.                                                                                                        (Romans 5:9; Romans 10:10)

            “Such a rose is to be in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in the Spirit and in faith is a beginning of the future heavenly joy;   it is already a part of faith and is grasped through Hope, even though not yet manifest.                                                                                                                 (Isaiah 1:18)

            “And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that in heaven such blessedness lasts forever and has no end, and in addition is precious beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.”                                                                          (John 14:1-3;  Revelation 21:18-19, 21-27)


“May Christ, our dear Lord, be with your spirit

until the life to come.   Amen.”



What Made the Lutheran Reformation Unique?


            The Lutheran Reformation was an event in 16th century Germany and Europe in which God used a Roman Catholic monk by the name of Martin Luther (1483-1546) to reform the Christian Church of that day.    By “reform” we mean to correct abuses and to restore the church to the Bible-based servant of the Lord that it should be.    

            However, it is important to understand that this was not the first or only reformation in the history of the Christian church.   There were numerous Old Testament-era reformations among the Jewish people (Jehosaphat’s, Josiah’s, Hezekiah’s).    In addition, throughout the fifteen hundred years of New Testament-era church history prior to the 16th century Reformation, there were many attempts at reformation.   For example, a reformation in the 11th Century, led by Pope Gregory VII, attacked lay control of the Church, simony (buying church offices), and clergy immorality.  In the 14th Century John Wyclif (d. 1384) sparked a reformation in England when he attacked the power and corruption of the Roman Church, rejected celibacy and transubstantiation, and stressed the reading of the Scriptures in the every day language of the common people.  In the 15th Century, the Bohemian, Jan Hus (d. 1415), influenced by Wyclif, initiated a reformation among his people by directing the people to obey God rather than the Roman Church authorities.   Hus declared that because of their false teachings and immorality, the Catholic church’s hierarchy had forfeited the right to lead Christ’s church on earth.  

            Martin Luther’s efforts to reform the church’s doctrine and practice centered on a restoration of the absolute authority of God’s Word in the church, with an emphasis on the unadulterated Gospel as the Christian’s motivation for living and his confidence for eternity.     Other reforming and renewal movements of that period (and afterward) tended to place their primary emphasis on making improvements in the Christian’s moral character (inward change), rather than on establishing sound Biblical doctrine as the starting point and foundation for any subsequent inner spiritual renewal.  In general, other reformers (especially of that period) stressed sanctification far more than justification, typically with legalistic (Law-, works-driven) rather than evangelical (Gospel-driven) motivation.   Some of those legalistic and emotion-driven reformers included:  Andreas Karlstadt, the Anabaptists, the Spiritualists/Enthusiasts, and, to a lesser extent, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, and John Knox.  In contrast, Luther’s efforts centered on a reforming of the church’s doctrine (conforming it to Scripture alone) more than a reforming of life.   More accurately, it was a reforming of the church’s corrupt doctrine in contrast to a reforming of the church’s corrupt life.     And, as the motivation for godly living, Luther stressed the peace, promises and joy that every Christian can know through the Gospel.    He saw the Law as the means of convincing men of their sinful condition and desperate need for a Savior from sin, as well as the guideline for godly living – but never as the do-or-be-damned motivation for sanctified living and eternal salvation.

            Luther’s reformation efforts focused on eliminating a multitude of Scriptural abuses and man-made teachings which Rome had been allowing to compromise the teachings of the Church to the extent that true, Biblical Christian doctrine had all but disappeared.   What Luther especially challenged was Rome’s false (and damning) doctrine that the way to heaven was through good works, obedience, and legalism.   Luther knew from his study of Scripture that Rome’s doctrine of salvation was exactly the opposite of the Bible’s message of salvation through grace by faith alone in Christ.     Luther also sought to reform other false doctrines, as well as various moral abuses that had developed in Roman Catholicism.   He boldly attacked the Papacy of the Roman Church as the very Anti-Christ.    What made the Lutheran Reformation unique was that it was most concerned with the restoration of Biblical truth…..not simply a change in the church’s moral character.     In one of his table talks, Luther made this remark concerning the restoration of sound Biblical doctrine:


Doctrine and life are to be distinguished. Life is as bad among us as among the papists. Hence we do not fight and damn them because of their bad lives. Wyclif and Hus, who fought over the moral quality of life, failed to understand this . . . When the Word of God , remains pure, even if the quality of life fails us, life is placed in a position to be what it ought to be. That is why everything hinges on the purity of the Word. I have succeeded only if I have taught correctly (WA TR 1:624; LW 54:110).


God’s Reformation of His Church through Martin Luther began

with his rediscovery of the main teaching of Christianity: The Gospel – namely, that we are declared righteous (justified) by grace alone in the cross of Jesus Christ.   It is not our righteousness (created by our works, efforts, and obeying God’s laws) that saves us;    rather, it is Christ’s righteousness that has saved us.  This righteousness is credited/imputed to our account when the Holy Spirit brings us to faith, thereby enabling us to embrace the precious truth that, as our sin-Substitute, Jesus Christ lived perfectly, died sacrificially and rose gloriously for us and for our salvation.

            Put very simply, Luther’s Reformation was a matter of taking this rediscovered Gospel, showing that it was Scriptural, and then reforming the church by using it (God’s mercy in Christ for us) as the chief motivation for Christian living, rather than the Law’s threats and condemnations.   Whatever in the church was found to contradict this Gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone – apart from works –  was to be reformed or removed.    Anything else (if it edified and was in accord with God’s Word) could be retained.

            The Lutheran Reformation was concerned with the essentials of the Christian faith.   For that reason it swept through Europe like a wildfire and produced amazing results. Without this Reformation, there would be no Christian faith as we enjoy it today, for the light of the Gospel would have remained all but extinguished.   Whenever we celebrate the Reformation then (as we are doing today), we are not merely observing the “birthday” of our Lutheran-Christian Church (as many might suggest).   Rather, we are celebrating the rediscovery of the Gospel – that central doctrine of Scripture on which the whole Christian Church and our faith is (and must remain) founded:    namely, that we have been saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone in Christ Jesus – God’s Son, our Savior – and that this precious truth comes to us in Scripture alone.




PRE-SERVICE PRAYER    In the name of God  the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.  My Heavenly Father,  I thank You through Jesus Christ,  Your dear Son, for keeping me through the night from all harm and danger.   Keep me this day also, from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You.  Into Your hands I commend my body and soul and all things.  Let Your holy angel be with me,  that the Wicked Foe may have no power over me.   Amen.



The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019,  

The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission

Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via OneLicense.net #A712831



Period For Silent Prayer             

Pre-Service Music                                                                                                                                              



We Praise Our God


The Greeting and Invitation to Worship


After which, at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for


The Invocation

We begin this service in the name

of the Father,

and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.



The Psalm for Reformation Sunday                                                                                           Psalm 46


P:  God is our refuge and strength,   a Helper Who can always be found

      in times of trouble.

C: That is why we will not fear when the earth dissolves + and when the mountains tumble into the heart of the sea.   +   Its waters roar and foam.    +   The mountains quake when it rises.


P:  There is a river – its streams bring joy to the city of God, to the holy dwelling of the Most High.

     C:  God is in her.   She will not fall;    +   God will help her at daybreak.

P:  Nations are in turmoil.   Kingdoms fall.   God raises His voice.  The earth melts.

C: Come, look at the works of the LORD.   +   What a wasteland He has made of the earth.


P:  He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;   

C: He shatters the bow.   +   He cuts up the spear.    + He burns the

      shields with fire.


P:  Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted on the earth.

C: The Lord of Armies is with us;    +   the God of Jacob is a Fortress to




 Opening Hymn                                                                                             Hymn 204   “O Lord, Our God, Your Holy Word”



after which the Congregation will rise as

We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God


Pastor:       Beloved in the Lord, let us draw near to the Lord with sincere’  hearts and confess our sins to God, our Father,

pleading that He might, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant us

the forgiveness of all our sins.


Congregation:           Miserable person that I am, I confess and lament to You, O most holy God, that I am a weak and sinful

creature, guilty of every sin, of unbelief, and of blasphemy.  I also confess that Your Word has not brought forth good fruit in me.  I hear it, but do not receive it earnestly.  I do not show works of love toward my neighbor.  I am full of anger, hate, and envy.  I am impatient, greedy, and bent on every evil.  Therefore my heart and conscience are heavy.  Lord, I ask You, free me from my sins, strengthen my faith, and comfort my weak conscience by Your divine Word, that I may obtain Your promised grace.


The Assurance of God’s Forgiveness


Pastor:                Having just heard your sincere confession of sins and plea

                                         for pardon may these words of our Savior in Matthew 8:31 comfort and encourage you:  “It will be done for you as you believe.”  And now, in the place of and according to the command of my Lord, Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sin, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   God be gracious unto you and strengthen your faith.  Go in peace.  Amen.


We Respond To God’s Forgiveness                                                                                                                                     ….. by singing verses 1 & 8

                                                                                                      Hymn 390  “Salvation Unto Us Has Come”


Salvation unto us has come   By God’s free grace and favor

Good works cannot avert our doom,  They help and save us never.

Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,

Who did for all the world atone

He is the one Redeemer.


All blessing, honor, thanks, and praise  

To Father, Son, and Spirit,

The God that saved us by His grace —  All glory to His merit!

O Triune God in heaven above,

You have revealed Your saving love,

Your blessed name be hallowed.   Amen.



The Prayer For This Festival


O Lord God, heavenly Father, we pray that You would pour Your Holy Spirit into our hearts.   Keep us ever steadfast in Your grace and truth.   Protect and comfort us in all temptation.   Defend us against all the enemies of Your Word and Your  name.   And bestow upon all the Church militant Your saving peace.  We ask this in the name and for the sake of  Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, as the one true God,  forever and ever.   Amen.


After which the Congregation may be seated for


The Children’s Selection for Today                                                                            “The Morning Prayer”


We give thanks to You, dear Father, through Jesus Your only Son,

That You have kept us through the night   From harm and the Evil One

And we pray that You will keep us this day,

From danger and sin and going astray.

Let all our words be pleasing to You.

And stay with us all through the day.   Your angels protecting our way.

For in Your name we pray.   Amen.

We Hear God’s Word


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                                                                       Romans 3:28


For we conclude that a person is justified by faith without the works of the law.

The Heart of our Christian Faith


 The Second Hymn                                                                                                                        Hymn 384    “By Grace I’m Saved”


By grace I’m saved, Grace free and boundless.

   My soul believe, and doubt it not.

Why waver at this word of promise.  

Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?

So then this word must true remain, 

 By grace, we too shall heaven obtain.



The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                           II Chronicles 34:29-34


      29 The king then summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 The king went up to the House of the Lord with all the men of Judah, with the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the Levites, and all the people from the least to the greatest. In their hearing he read all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the House of the Lord.

      31 The king stood in his place by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord to walk in the way of the Lord, to keep his commandments, his testimonies, and his statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, and to uphold the words of the covenant that were written in this book.

      32 Then he made all those who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin stand up and do the same. The inhabitants of Jerusalem acted according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.


33 Josiah removed all the abominations from all the lands that belonged to the people of Israel. He influenced everyone in Israel to serve the Lord their God. Throughout all his days, they did not turn away from the Lord, the God of their fathers.



The Third Hymn                                                                          Hymn 403  “I Know My Faith Is Founded”


I know my faith is founded on Jesus Christ, my God and Lord;

And this my faith confessing,   Unmoved I stand upon His Word.

Man’s reason cannot fathom   The truth of God profound;

Who trusts in worldly wisdom   Relies on shifting ground.

God’s Word is all sufficient.   It makes divinely sure,

And trusting in its wisdom,   My faith shall rest secure.


The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                                  Romans 3:19-28


      19 Now we know that whatever the law says is addressed to those who are under the law, so that every mouth will be silenced and the whole world will be subject to God’s judgment. 20 For this reason, no one will be declared righteous in his sight by works of the law, for through the law we become aware of sin.

      21 But now, completely apart from the law, a righteousness from God has been made known. The Law and the Prophets testify to it. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all and over all who believe.

      In fact, there is no difference, 23 because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God publicly displayed as the atonement seat through faith in his blood. God did this to demonstrate his justice, since, in his divine restraint, he had left the sins that were committed earlier unpunished. 26 He did this to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so that he would be both just and the one who justifies the person who has faith in Jesus.

      27 What happens to boasting then? It has been eliminated. By what principle—by the principle of works? No, but by the principle of faith. 28 For we conclude that a person is justified by faith without the works of the law.


The Fourth Hymn                                                                Hymn 293 “God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage”


God’s Word is our great heritage forever.

To spread its light shall be our chief endeavor.

Through life it guides our way;

In death it is our stay.

Lord, grant while worlds endure, we keep its teaching pure

Throughout all generations.

after which the Congregation will  rise out of respect for Christ’s words for


The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                        John 8:31-36


      31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples. 32 You will also know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

      33 “We are Abraham’s descendants,” they answered, “and we have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be set free’?”

      34 Jesus answered, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Everyone who keeps committing sin is a slave to sin. 35 But a slave does not remain in the family forever. A son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.



The Public Confession of our Christian Faith

according to the words of the Apostles’ Creed


I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.   And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;  Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;  Born of the virgin Mary;  Suffered under Pontius Pilate;  Was crucified, dead, and buried;  He descended into hell;  The third day He rose again from the dead;  He ascended into heaven;  And sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.   I believe in the Holy Ghost;  The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints;  The forgiveness of sins;  The resurrection of the body;  And the life everlasting.  Amen.



after which the Congregation may be seated for


 Sermon Hymn                                                               Hymn 203 “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast In Your Word”



The Pre-Sermon Greeting


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.



The Sermon Text                                                                                                         based on Romans 10:17


Faith comes through hearing the message.

And the message is heard through the Word of Christ.


What IS Reformation Faith?


following the Sermon the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED for


The Post-Sermon Blessing


And now, to Him Who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom of priests to serve His God and Father — to Him be glory for ever and ever.  Amen!      



We Offer Our Gifts And Prayers To The Lord


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


We offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:

1) Those in the chapel can  place their offerings in the offering plates

2) You can send a check (no cash) in the mail to Grace Lutheran Church (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

3) Or, go online to our website (www.gracelutherannwa.com) and use the giving option there.


after which the Congregation rises

Our Prayers for Each Other


Included in our prayers today:


A Prayer of Thanksgiving on behalf of the following couples, celebrating their wedding anniversaries this week:

Rachel and Dale Johannes…..on Monday;

Paula and Keith Ihms…..on Tuesday;   and

Dawn and Wayne Watkins…..on Wednesday.


The Responsive  Prayer for Today

P:   Dear Lord of all, we acknowledge our sin and our guilt before You,

       and our  unworthiness to be considered Your very children;  yet we

       call to You:



P:   Men all around us have devised fables and lies instead of

      proclaiming Your  truth;   they have turned the hearts of many to

      follow Satan’s deceptions;   yet among us, we pray,



P:   Satan’s forces rise in rage against You and plot the overthrow of

      Your Church;  they seek only our eternal loss and the damnation of

      all men;  yet  through the faithful preaching of Your Word to us and

       all people, may



P:   Heavenly Father, please hinder and frustrate all efforts to destroy

      Your Word and Your Church;  with your power and love turn

      everything for our  good, according to Your holy purpose, so that



P:   We come before You as beggars, needing the daily blessings of Your

      hands, that we may have food and shelter, prosperity and safety,

      health and  comfort, and life itself;  we plead with you now to

      continue our preservation:



P:   Because we are all, by nature, sinful men and women, and because

      our sinful acts and thoughts have often worked against Your good

      will, give us also, Lord, and abundant portion of Christian love and

      spiritual maturity, that we may forgive those who sin against us:





P:   We are certainly no better and no more worthy of Your love than

      other men  but that we do not fall into sin that harms our faith and

      hinders Your work:


P:   From this world free us, O Lord.   Bring us safely through the

      temptations,  through the lies of men, and through the efforts of a

      hostile world intent on destroying Your Church, built on Jesus

      Christ alone:



P:   We come before You confidently, knowing that Your power has

      sustained the Church throughout the generations, and that You will

      continue to do so  today.   On this Reformation Sunday, we place

      our trust in You, with the full reliance that You will bless and

      protect and support Your Church, as  You have promised, for Jesus’






We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


The Benediction  


The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The Lord look with favor upon you, and give you His peace.   Amen.



The Closing Hymn                                                                                        “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”


A Mighty Fortress is our God,   a trusty Shield and Weapon;

He helps us free from ev’ry need    That hath us now o’ertaken.

The old evil Foe   now means deadly woe;

Deep guile and great might    Are his dread arms in fight;   

On earth is not his equal.


With might of ours can naught be done    Soon were our loss effected.

But for us fights the Valiant One,   Whom God, Himself, elected.

Ask ye, Who is this?   Jesus Christ it is,

Of Sab-a-oth Lord,   And there’s none other God;  

He holds the field forever.


Tho’ devils all the world should fill    All eager to devour us.

We tremble not, we fear no ill.   They shall not overpower us.

This world’s prince may still   Scowl fierce as He will,

He can harm us none,   He’s judged;   the deed is done;   

One little word    Can fell him.


(The Congregation will rise to sing the final verse)


The Word they still shall let remain    Nor any thanks have for it.

He’s by our side upon the plain   With His good gifts and spirit.

And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife,

Let these all be gone.   They yet have nothing won.

The Kingdom ours remaineth.     AMEN


Silent Prayer, Announcements, Post-worship Music




Last Week At Grace:    In Worship: 72                                                              Online views of the service: 36

Bible Class:   28     Online views: 6

Budget: $3441       Benevolence: $1       Online Budget: $90.71


This Week’s Birthdays and Anniversary

10/31- Robert Pulley;      11/01 – Rachel & Dale Johannes;

11/02 – Keith & Paula Ihms;      11/02 – Amanda Tart;

11/03 – Roger Kattestad;    11/03 – Dawn & Wayne Watkins;

11/04 – Alexis Clark


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today      Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m.        Fellowship Time, 10:40 a.m.

                 Bible Class/Sunday School, 11 am    Confirmation Class 12:15

Tuesday  Morning Bible Study, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday    Evening Bible Classes 6-7 p.m.

Saturday   Outreach Calling/Visitation, 11 a.m.

Sunday   Morning Worship with the Lord’s Supper, 9:30 a.m.

                  Fellowship, 10:45 a.m.      Bible Class/SS, 11:05 a.m.

                 Youth Confirmation Class, 12:15 to 1:30 p,m.


Serving Us Next Sunday (11/07)                                                             Elders:   Steve Stone, Tim Pfortmiller

Altar Guild: Tina Wambold; Harriet Johnson     Video: Tim Huebner

Ushers:    Chris Roberts, Kent Mayer,  Fred Cusanelli


Time Change Weekend NEXT SUNDAY   It’s coming….In the very

 early hours of next Sunday morning (technically, 1t 2 a.m.), November

7th,  our clocks are all supposed to be turned back one hour.   So, plan on

getting that extra hour of sleep so you can join us well-rested and ready

for worship next Sunday the 7th.


Thanksgiving Day Worship and Special Dinner   Looking way ahead,

we’d like to encourage you to make your plans now to join us in setting

the  tone for a “proper” Thanksgiving Day by starting November 25th

 here at Grace with  a  service of celebration and thanksgiving at 9:30

a.m.   We’ll follow the service with a special pot-luck/fellowship

Thanksgiving  dinner.   In  addition to it being a special occasion’

through which you can thank the Lord for His many mercies to you,

please see this as an   “outreach  opportunity” (since few churches even

hold Thanksgiving Day worship services), and consider inviting family

members and a friend (or  friends) to join you in worship here

Thanksgiving morning.


Fellowship Volunteers Needed    Would you be willing to volunteer to

prepare after-worship coffee, drinks, and light snacks?   A sign-up

poster is on the fellowship hall bulletin board.  We need more

volunteers for the rest of this year (November through December).  A

reimbursement of $25 per week for expenses is available to help defray

costs.  (It comes through our “donation jar.”


The Upcoming Edition of “Meditations”, our WELS’ daily devotional

booklet is available through our congregation to everyone who

 worships here.  The November 28-February 26, 2022 edition can be

found on the table in the front entry.  This covers three months’ worth

of  devotions for time well-spent in God’s Word. 

This Week’s Bible Classes ……..In our Sunday Bible Class we’re

 studying First Corinthians.  Today we’ll work through chapter seven

 (“When A Christian Is Married”).   Tuesday morning, from 10:30-11:30,

 we’re studying 2 Kings 12.  As we do, we’ll talk about two kings of

 Israel (Jehoahaz and Jehoash), as well as the prophet Elisha’s death. 

This  Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m., we’ll offer a Bible class for men,

and  one for women.   You can participate in

person, online, or over-the- phone.  Our men are studying various

Psalms (This week, Psalm 30…written by David for the dedication of the

temple),  while our women are studying the Lord’s Prayer.



Martin Luther and the Reformation


                 It was the age of Christopher Columbus, Michelangelo, and

Copernicus.   It was an age when the Holy Roman Catholic Church

thoroughly dominated religious life in southern, western, and northern

Europe.  It  was also an age when false teachings1, rather than the truths

of God’s  Word, abounded in the church.    Particularly, it was an age

during’  which the central truth of God’s Word had become so clouded

that the Gospel message of free forgiveness of sins and salvation

 through faith in Jesus Christ was not being preached at all. 

                 It was in this age that Martin Luther, born on November 10,

1483, grew up.  Because of Catholicism’s legalism and message that one

could be saved only by doing a sufficient enough good works to please

God (the amount of those good works “necessary” was never stated;

hence the’ spiritual lives of people in that age were filled with an air of

uncertainty and doubt about God’s love), Luther — ever-conscious that

he was a sinner — lived in absolute terror of God.   His Church taught

that becoming a monk or priest was an extraordinarily good work, and

so could bring one closer to God’s love.   As a result, Luther pursued the

monastic life, but his fear of God as an angry, hateful judge was not

abated.   He simply could not find the comfort for his soul that he so

desperately sought.

                 Until one day when, as a monk and a teacher the University

of Wittenberg in Germany, Luther began to study the Bible.  The more

he searched the Scriptures, the more he began to understand and find

peace for his soul in the knowledge of God’s free grace and

unconditional salvation for sinful mankind, guaranteed through the

perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ

alone.  Luther once recalled the clinching moment of his astounding

discovery of salvation by faith:    I was seized with the conviction that I

must understand [Paul’s] letter to the Romans….but up to that moment one

 phrase in chapter one stood in my way.  I hated the idea, ‘in it the

 righteousness of God is revealed’ ….I hated the righteous God who punishes

 sinners….At last, meditating day and night and by the  mercy of God, I …

 began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the

 righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith … Here I felt as if I were

 entirely born again and had entered Paradise itself through gates that had been

 flung open.”

                 Martin Luther found his Savior, and through faith in Christ he now had the peace with God that for so long and so desperately he had sought.  This made him eager to share the blessings of the Gospel with others.   The time had come when God would use him to restore the pure Word of God to the whole world.

                 It began in this way.  Pope Leo X wanted to collect a large sum of money to build St. Peter’s Church in Rome.  In order to get this money, he sent monks into Germany to sell indulgences to the people.  These indulgences were letters from the Pope which promised the forgiveness of sins to those who bought them.

                 Luther was shocked when he  heard that a monk named John Tetzel was selling these indulgences and so was deceiving the people not far from Wittenberg, where Luther at the time was pastor of the Castle Church.  So Luther wanted to warn people not to buy indulgences and taught them that they couldn’t buy their way into heaven with money.  Rather, forgiveness, salvation and heaven were God’s gift to them, though faith in Christ Jesus.

                 On October 31, 1517 Luther took what at first seemed a small, but quickly became a very decisive step against indulgences and a host of other false teachings supported by the Catholic Church.  He walked up to the Castle Church in Wittenberg and fastened a sheet of paper to the front door (this act was quite ordinary, as the church door was the community’s “bulletin board/newspaper” in that age).   On this paper he had written 95 sentences (called the 95 theses), in which he systematically showed what was wrong with the selling of indulgences for the forgiveness of sins, challenging anyone to debate him on the issue.  The people coming to church read the theses and some copied them.  Within a matter of weeks Luther’s theses had spread all over Germany and to many other places in Europe.

                 No one had the courage to enter into a debate with Luther.  However, the 95 theses caused great excitement among the people of Europe and within the Roman Catholic Church.  Some demanded that Luther should be punished because he had challenged the teaching of the church.  But most people agreed that Luther had spoken the truth.  With the posting of his 95 theses, Martin Luther had unknowingly begun what we now refer to as the Lutheran Reformation, through which God restored His Word in its truth and purity to the Christian Church on earth.

                 Four years later the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, held a diet (a meeting) in the German city of Worms.  He gathered many of the most important and influential men of his empire in order to put an end to Luther’s ongoing efforts to reform the Catholic Church.  But the emperor didn’t think that it was right to punish Luther until he had given him a chance to explain or defend himself.

                 An audience of political and religious dignitaries jammed into the great hall at the Diet of Worms on April 17, 1521.  There sat the emperor, surrounded by representatives of the Roman Church.  Spanish troops decked out in their parade best (Charles was originally from Spain), various rulers, bishops, and territorial princes.  And standing in the middle of all of them was Luther, an Augustinian monk, the son of a coal miner.  Luther was told to say nothing but “I recant,” that is, he was expected to take back everything that he had written which contradicted the (false) teachings of the church and to admit that he had been wrong.   He asked the Emperor for, and was granted, one day to consider his answer.

                 After a day’s stay, Luther once more appeared before the Diet and was again told that all he could say was “I recant everything.”  Instead he bravely replied:  “Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear distinct grounds of reasoning, my conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to go against conscience.  Here I stand.  I cannot do otherwise.  God help me!  Amen.”

                 Shortly afterwards, Luther was condemned and declared a heretic, and banned from the empire with a death sentence placed on his head.  But that did not stop him.  For the next 25 years until his death from  natural causes on February 18, 1546, Luther wrote many treatises, sermons, books, confessions, hymns, and translated the entire Bible into the German language of the common people.   Historians are unanimous in their assessment that Martin Luther was “the” central figure of that age (the 16th century) which has become known to us as “The Reformation Era.”   Undoubtedly, God used Luther, the Wittenberg monk, pastor, and professor,  to redirect people back to the pure and right teachings of His Word.

                 Eventually the Reformer and his supporters summarized their teachings in written “Confessions,” which clearly stated various truths of Scripture and rejected all errors to the contrary.   Besides the three ancient  confessions of the church (the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds), Lutheran Christians have also adopted the Augsburg Confession; the Apology (or Defense) of the Augsburg Confession;  The Smalcald Articles;  the Large Catechism;  the Small Catechism;  and the Formula of Concord . . . all based on Scripture alone . . . as means of clarifying and expressing our doctrinal positions & beliefs. They are all contained in the Book of Concord of 1580.

                 Martin Luther believed what Scripture clearly teachers:    that we are saved by God’s grace alone, which is received by faith alone in Jesus Christ, as revealed in Scripture alone.  In what he taught, he held to everything that the Bible says, and taught from nothing but the Bible.  We thank God that He sent Martin Luther to bring back to His Church the correct teachings of His Word.  And, as to our dependance upon the inspired and error-free Word of God, may we 21st century Lutherans also join with Luther across the centuries to say today, and always, “Here we stand.  We cannot do otherwise.  God help us!  Amen!”



  1. Catholicism’s false teachings during the Middle Ages include (but were not limited to) the following: 1)  that people were saved, not by faith alone, but by a combination of faith and good works;  2)  that, after death, the Christian did not go to heaven, but to an ‘in between” place called Purgatory, where he would suffer for a period of time for his sins before being released to heaven;  3)  that the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) was the supreme spiritual leader of the Church who was Christ’s direct representative and, as such, had the power to forgive or not forgive sins;  4)  that a person could be saved only if he/she was a member of the Roman Catholic Church;  all outside the church were considered “lost”;  5)  that the laity were forbidden to read the Bible;  6)  that the clergy (along with monks and nuns) were forbidden to marry;  and,  7) that a believer could pray to Jesus’ mother Mary or one of “the Saints” (the great believers of the past).