A Modern Reformation

by Rev. Steven B. Borst

1010scripture1.jpgIn the year 1517, on the evening before All Saints, the Castle Church in Wittenberg was prepared for the festival services to be held the next day. Inside the church, 19,000 relics were laid out to be adored by the arriving throng of worshipers.

Outside the church doors, however, a different preparation was under way. There Dr. Martin Luther was busy posting his 95 Theses. This was a courageous act, for he was calling the Church to repentance.

Within two weeks, he not only debated his position in Wittenberg but had his theses translated from Latin into German to be distributed throughout the land.

If Luther were alive today, the title of his theses would be different too. In 1517, they were entitled, “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences.” Luther was challenging the idea that one could buy his way into heaven. While the Church no longer resorts to raising money through the sale of an indulgence, perhaps Luther would take aim at the lack of vigilance our modern Church has in protecting and proclaiming the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Remembering the Reformation should make us a little bit uncomfortable because the Church in every generation is in need of self-reflection and correction. What needs reforming in our lives and in our congregations? Examine the following Scriptures based upon the five great teachings of the Reformation.

Scripture Alone

Read 2 Timothy 4:1–5. What warning is given?

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In verse 2, what three actions result from preaching the Word?

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Is your faith informed by Scripture plus something else?

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Grace Alone

The free gift of grace alone can save us. Read Ephesians 2:4–9. According to verse 5, what is God’s grace able to do?

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In what ways is your conscience plagued by the notion that you need grace plus something else?

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Faith Alone

Romans 1:16–17 was an important passage for Luther. What power of God is described in verse 16? What is it able to do?

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How does verse 17 emphasize faith alone?

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Do you seek righteousness by faith plus something else?

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Christ Alone

Our confidence as Christians comes from the object of our faith: Jesus Christ. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17–21. What does God accomplish for us
in verse 18?

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Christ’s work is all-sufficient! What are we saying if we feel that we need Christ plus something else?

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God’s Glory Alone

Luther and the Reformers ended many of their writings with Soli Deo Gloria, which means “To God alone be the glory.” Read Galatians 1:3–5. Let these words be the praise you offer God this Reformation Sunday!

About the Author: Rev. Steven B. Borst (ilcspastor@yahoo.com) is senior pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, Riverside, Calif.

October 2010

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