Friday, January 6, 2017
The Protestant Reformation always puts a circle around 1517. That was the date Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg, Germany church. His statements challenged, among other things, the teaching of works righteousness.
Luther was a monk, a very serious monk. He faithfully visited the Confessional where he listed his sins in the presence of a priest in order to do penance and experience forgiveness. Repeatedly, he confessed his sins. His persistence irritated the priest. Finally his confessor suggested he go out and commit some real sins so that he would have something to confess other than the silly specifics that were troubling his conscience.
The breakthrough for Luther was his new insight that God’s grace cannot be bought, cannot be earned, and cannot be achieved by any human effort. Grace is God’s unconditional love for those who don’t deserve it. God’s favor is freely given. We live by grace. A physician told me that unconditional love is the most powerful stimulant for the human immune system.
We are all in need of God’s forgiveness. In Jesus Christ our salvation is available, not something that can be hustled, achieved or earned. It can only be received! That’s worth celebrating.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9