Summary: A Reformation sermon focussing on Martin Luther's great discovery that God is for something, being a graceful and merciful God and not just against people and things.
A question I would like us to think about as God’s church today
How do the people you mix with view Christianity today?
How does the media view Christianity today?
Do they see Christians as ambassadors of God bearing His grace and being generous with His love?
or do they see Christianity as something else?
Perhaps some see it as simply a system of relating to God or earning a person’s place with God through a bunch of rules and processes.
And that anytime you don’t meet these rules you are going to be sidelined, downgraded, punished or even worse excluded from God and his community.
So therefore the main message many people hear about Christianity is we are always against something or someone.
And therefore God is always against something or someone,
But is this the message God gives to us through His bible about himself or what it means to be church
Is this the message of one of the most well know passages from the Gospels?
Reading from John 3:16-17….
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Over 500 years ago Martin Luther was struggling with a similar question….
It went something like this
What does it mean for me to have a right and healthy relationship with God?
His initial response to this questions was to focus on what he could do and what he was going to do….
He gave up his legal studies for theological studies,
He became a monk, as he belong with many others thought that being a monk was more important and more holier than being a lawyer.
He read and studied the bible not just a little but a lot
He confessed sins…..even the most trivial sins…..
He confessed sins for hours…..
His entire life was about appeasing an angry God.
On one occasions his confessor father Staupitz, became sick of Luther’s ongoing list of trivial confessions, that he told Luther to go and do something worth confessing…..
On another occasion Luther was extremely diligent with his confession as he was determined to get right with God…..after Staupitz announced God’s forgiveness on him…Luther began to leave the confessional thinking how good he was, that now there was nothing that stood between him and God…then it dawned on him…he had just failed the humility test….and pride being one of the deadly sins meant all that good work had been undone….so back he went to the confessional.
No matter how hard he tried
No matter how much he did
There was always an issue between him and God
Luther’s continual striving for a good relationship with God was failed him.
Instead of him having peace with God, he would often be down disheartened and worried.
His view of God is that God was pure but ready to punish anyone who did not live up to His expectations….
I suspect that this is not just a problem for Luther…
it is also possibly a problem for each of us at some stage in our lives
Have I done enough?
Am I good enough?
But God used Luther’s striving to reveal the essential truth of Christianity…
As he studied the bible….
Luther came across Romans 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Luther’s view of God….
Luther’s view of Christianity altered substantially…..
He had lived with the wrong view of God
No longer was the emphasis that we had to do all this stuff and live up to these Godly expectations to appease an angry God….….
Instead God is not only offering us a life with Him, He is making it possible for this to life happen, through the life death and resurrection of His son Jesus….
And all that is required of us, is to have faith that Jesus has done all that is needed for us to have this life….
Listen again to Romans 3:25-26
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, m through the shedding of 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.