Summary: The Reformation began with Jesus Christ and is to continue even today within the church and within our hearts.
1. "Today is Reformation Sunday." With these four words I may already have lost many of your listening ears. Why do we need to talk about something that happened 400-500 years ago? We don’t want a history lesson or a theological debate.
2. Message of Reformation not a message that began with Martin Luther but with Jesus Christ, the first true reformer. And it is something that is to continue today - in the church and in your hearts.
3. So, rather than go "back to the future" with Michael J. Fox, I invite you to go "forward to the past" with Jesus Christ.
A. 2,000 Years Ago
1. Begin our journey with Jesus as He is teaching in the temple court. Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, to try Jesus.
a. Told Him law of Moses said that she was to be stoned. If He agreed, He would have gone against Roman rules that they could carry out death sentence. If not, he would be against law and Moses.
b. They forget fact that they did not present evidence and the guilt man was to be punished as well. They were using law and altering it for their own benefit.
c. Jesus, after some thought, did not argue whether she was guilty or not. Rather he challenged the one without sin to throw the first stone. In other words, all are guilty of sin and we all need forgiveness.
d. We all need to be freed from slavery to sin.
2. Jesus went on to tell who He was. Then, in our passage Jesus speaks to those who profess to believe that He is God. He challenges them as to whether they are truly His disciples.
3. He says to them, He says to the RC church before the Reformation, He says to the church today, and he says to the each one of us: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (v. 31-2)
a. Not just believe my word, but you hold on to it - you abide or dwell in it.
b. Jesus had asked is any of them were without sin and in vs 21 He tells them they will die in their sin.
c. Jesus says the truth and only the truth will free them from sin and the consequences of sin.
4. They don’t agree because they are descendants of Abraham and people of God.
a. Jesus tells them they are not really Abe’s children - at least not in the faith which Abraham had. They were physical descendants but not spiritual descendants.
b. God has no grandchildren - you are either child of God or not. We can’t say we are because parents are - need to hold on to word for yourself.
c. They were not children of the faith of Abraham because they were either Pharisees or their followers. The Pharisees made their own rules about who was saved from sin.
d. Jewish historian Josephus said "the Pharisees had passed on to the people certain regulations handed down by former generations and not recorded in the law of Moses"
e. They followed external rules but the law was not written on the hearts.
f. Jesus knew they were slaves to sin. Trying to follow rules and traditions does not free us from slavery.
g. To hold on to Christ’s word and to trust in Him with your life sets us free. We are then not slaves but free sons of God - free for ever - for we have a permanent place in the family that no one can take away, not the Pharisees or the church.
5. Jesus came to Reform the church - to remove its faults and abuses. Through its teachings no one was set free, for it did not teach salvation through faith but through works. It judged who was a sinner and who was not
B. 500 Years Ago
1. If we move ahead 1500 years we see the situation was not that different.
2. Martin Luther was struggling with the church which had descended from the apostles. As the Jews had came from Abraham, who had true faith, they descended from apostles who taught salvation through Christ alone. But both had forgotten the simple truth and added their own rules
3. There were three pictures that deeply influenced Luther and made Him see the need for Reform:
a. He did not see a woman caught in adultery as Jesus had.
b. Instead, as a 14 year old, two pictures were impressed on his mind:
i. An altarpiece in a church, showed a boat sailing toward heaven. In the boat were the pope, the cardinals, bishops, monks and priests. The latter were tending oars and sails and were casting ropes to laymen struggling in the water. Some were clinging to ropes while others were drowning. No laymen was in the boat and no clergy in the water. Over the ship, directing its course, was the Holy Spirit.Showed view that laity were utterly dependent on RC clergy for their salvation. Only those declared saved or free by priest was actually saved or free.