October 29, 2017 – Reformation Text: Jude 3-4
Dear Friends in Christ,
What are some of the big events in the last 500 years? The founding of America and World Wars has affected millions. On a personal level what has been a big event? Marriage, birth of children, job change? I like those but I would also add the inventions of soft toilet paper, hot water heaters, and hell not freezing over when the Cubs won the World Series. How many would also add being called to faith, baptism and the gift of salvation?
Oh, yes our faith. Sometimes that gets pushed down the list, doesn’t it? Today is a reminder that this should make the top, numero uno, the big enchilada, the whole ball of wax. But as we stand two days before the actual 500-year anniversary of the Reformation we have to be a little careful. Many celebrating want to make this about an individual. His face is everywhere from coffee mugs to cake mixes. Even the German people see a marketing bonanza. But do they care, do most people care, do we care about the message of the movement? I pray that we do because this milestone is about . . .
“MORE THAN A MAN”
Jude says in our text, “Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Pure doctrine never changes; it is once and forever. We are still not saved by anything we do. We are still saved solely by what Christ has done for us. We are justified; we are forgiven our sins, today the same way as ever – because Christ died for them. And everyone today who believes those words still has eternal life.
Every doctrine grows from this one simple truth. Our doctrine is just as true today as it ever was. In our Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod we confess the whole Book of Concord as the correct exposition of God’s Holy Word.
Do we have the same kind of dedication to the pure doctrine as was on display 500 years ago? Do we – when some congregations admit to the Lord’s Supper any Christian who reads a little blurb in the bulletin and thinks he agrees? Do we – when we think the mission of the Church and pure doctrine are somehow in tension, and we’re willing to trade one for the other? Do we still have the pure doctrine when even conservative Lutherans like ourselves know very well the false doctrines and practices we’re against, but aren’t regularly and faithfully studying the Bible to see what we do believe – and why? Do we have what it takes to be what we were?
Our forefathers in the LCMS had courage to come to America. They left Saxony Germany because they didn’t want to compromise with other churches. They loaded up five ships and crossed the ocean. That took guts. One of the ships didn’t make it – lost at sea with all fifty passengers.
Do we have the same courage that they did? Most of us don’t like to stand alone, do we? We don’t like to be in conflict, especially in our politically correct age where people say, “Who’s really to say who’s right?” Do we have the courage today to do the tough thing, to say out loud, “I have studied God’s Word, and this is what I believe it teaches – and what is contrary to that is wrong? I believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and anyone who believes whatever those other religions teach is going to hell?” Do we have the courage to say that, when we know it is sure to get us labeled as narrow-minded and judgmental and unloving? For us, it is much easier than what our ancestors faced, but do we really have the courage that it does take? Do we have what it takes to be what we were?
We do – if we still have the same God. Do we, in our church today, still have the same God? Jude says in verse 4, “Certain people have crept in unnoticed…ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Is it possible that, without noticing, we could lose the true God?
We don’t really have the same God as the Reformers or the Synod had all these years if we compromise His doctrine. Do we have what it takes to be what we were? Do we have the same God?
Dear friends, the same God who worked the miracle some 500 years ago is here with us today in His Word. The same God who gave the fledgling LCMS the courage to stand in a compromising world, is here with us today in His Word. He is the same God, the one and only God who became a man. Jude says, “our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” The One who knows the pressures and struggles of this world. The one who understands the courage it takes – and understands why we have so little. The One who did what it took to make us what we are – children of God – by dying on a cross. That same God is with us. The God of grace who forgives our faithlessness. Who by His grace, His power, has worked such amazing things through our church – despite our unworthiness. See what this God of grace has done!
Today is about more than a man. It is about a Savior – Jesus Christ. The same yesterday, today, and forever. Thank God for that fellow redeemed!