November 2022

November 2022

About Christian Liberty

 

On October 31, while The Culture is pre-occupied with its new favorite holiday, The Lutherans observe Reformation Day. But their observance does not translate into having a church service during the week, so we do it on Reformation Sunday. The Lutherans chose that date because it’s the day when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

 

That date in 1517 has always been seen as the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation because it was. From there it was just one thing after another, and the more Luther said, the more trouble he seemed to get into until he was excommunicated in January of 1521. Probably the straw that broke that camel’s back were what are known as the Three Treatises, three writings compiled in 1520.

 

In A Letter to the Christian Nobility of Germany, Luther spoke of three “walls” that had been set up separating the Pope in Rome from the laity in Germany, and they needed to be torn down. In The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Luther argued that the Christian Church had come to being held in bondage by the Pope much as Judah had been held captive in Babylon in the 6th Century B.C.

 

In the third writing The Freedom of a Christian, he embraces the paradox he expresses in the most well-known two sentences in it, "A Christian man is the most free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian man is most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone," and what does he mean by that? He means – like Jesus and Paul talk about – that we are free from sin, death, and Hell.

 

He had been criticized for that first sentence. His opponents asked if that were the case, if the Christian knows himself to be free from the possibility of hell, and sure of the certainty of heaven, what would there be to keep him from sinning? It’s amazing what questions several hundreds of years of adding more burdens and increasing threats to the lives of Christians will bring.

 

Luther cuts through all the red tape of indulgences, man-made laws, and the like that had made Christianity into drudgery by asking “what do you want to do?” I’ll ask you the same thing; what do you want to do? What kinds of thoughts do you want to think? What kinds of words do you want to come out of your mouth? Do you want to despise the Word, or gladly hear and learn it?

 

Not everybody wants to think, talk, and act like a Christian, but Christians do. It’s because God has given us his Holy Spirit, a new spirit to dwell in us alongside of, and always battling against the old sinful flesh. It’s those two things at cross purposes that makes the Christian life sometimes complicated. Paul laments that he does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he should.

 

Slavery to sin is much less complicated. Just obey what Satan, the World, and the flesh tell you to do without any care for God or your fellow man, and people do that all the time. But we are free people, not bound to obey that Unholy Trinity, but free to serve God and man in whatever our various vocations. When we fail, forgiveness abounds, and there is no freedom like that freedom.

 

In Christian Service,

 

Pastor Anderson

 

 

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