Today is known in many churches as Reformation Day. On October 31, 1517, we remind ourselves of the amazing reformation that came as young Martin Luther made his way up the steps of the church of Wittenberg to nail a list of 95 theses speaking of the objections he and others were having with the Roman Catholic Church. (BTW, the doors were used as community ‘bulletin boards.’)
The RCC at the time was dealing with bad doctrine and even worse policies. There were many voices of dissent on many issues, and perhaps the most difficult was the issue of indulgences. Essentially, they were being sold to many who wanted to be forgiven. This generated revenue for the pope’s treasury.
Thesis 86, which asks: “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”
Wikipedia says “Luther objected to a saying attributed to Johann Tetzel that “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory [also attested as ‘into heaven’] springs.”
Luther insisted that, since forgiveness was God’s alone to grant, those who claimed that indulgences absolved buyers from all punishments and granted them salvation were in error. Christians, he said, must not slacken in following Christ on account of such false assurances.”
Below are some of Luther’s quotes, which are worth your time in reading. These are taken from Crossquotes.org, a site I set up to pass on some significant words to this generation of Christian believers.
Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.
In our sad condition our only consolation is the expectancy of another life.
Faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we do not see.
A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all, subject to all.
I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.
The first thing I ask is that people should not make use of my name, and should not call themselves Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? The teaching is not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone. How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name?
Be a sinner and sin strongly, but more strongly have faith and rejoice in Christ.
To do so no more is the truest repentance.
Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake.
So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!”
I would not give one moment of heaven for all the joy and riches of the world, even if it lasted for thousands and thousands of years.
Is it not wonderful news to believe that salvation lies outside ourselves?
My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.
Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.
If you young fellows were wise, the devil couldn’t do anything to you, but since you aren’t wise, you need us who are old.
Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want.
“Power and peace will be in his kingdom and will continue to grow forever. He will rule as king on David’s throne and over David’s kingdom. He will make it strong by ruling with justice and goodness from now on and forever. The Lord All-Powerful will do this because of his strong love for his people.”
Isaiah 9:7, NCV
Things are now finally falling into place. Jesus brings with Him a very definite sense of the Kingdom. Darkness has been tricked. It has been totally overcome by His presence. The twin attributes of power and of peace are penetrating everything they touch. We will no longer have to put up with deception and sin.
This intervention will continue, forever. All I can do, is witness to its power. Nothing phases it. It continues to advance without melodramatics or manipulation. He fully intends to sit on the throne of David; it is His by right and by deed. Because, after all, He is the true King.
He is not just a token king, or a king in idea or theory. He does rule, fully and completely. He fortifies the kingdom and brings an intentional awareness to His subjects of true love and peace. The concepts of justice and goodness, which have never really been considered, are released into the lives of the people.
There is a pervasive sense that this will continue and endure. The King and the kingdom has come (and there isn’t a thing we can do about it.) This is not a ‘flash in the pan’. It has the idea of eternity stamped all over it. What He is doing is eternal. It is not temporary or fleeting. What He is doing is nothing more than revolution in the spiritual realm.
Our verse in Isaiah 9, speaks resoundly about ‘love’. It is His love that pushes through all this turmoil and confusion. He loves us to the extent of dying in our place. Love is what energizes Him, it causes Him to look for us. Love are the ‘rails’ He moves on, to come to us. When He finally locates us, He purchases us with His own money off of the slave block. No questions and no demands.
Because He is all-powerful, He cannot be limited to the status of a ‘quasi-God’. His complete strength allows Him the option of doing whatever He chooses. There are voices, scattered and strained, that have the audacity to claim that they really rule. But if we think about, we discover that this is nothing more then a spiritual comedy being played out.
As we think about Isaiah, and his prophetic awareness, we are brought to an understanding that absolutely ‘rocks’ our world. Jesus flips it all on its head, and the weakest become the strongest. He alone is our hope. And He has done it all.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
– John 14:1-3
Our hearts can be very disturbed. It happens more frequently than we think. We are like a styrofoam cup on the sea in a storm. Jesus asks us to trust Him in this. Your trust is very important to Him. He covets your faith in Him.
Jesus reveals a bit of heaven to us.
First, it is a house and not a motel. There is a warmth and comfort in a house.
Second, it is expansive– many rooms, the word is ‘dwelling places’. Someplace that is relaxing and restful. It’s a place you’ll never, ever want to leave.
Third, it is a ‘prepared’ place. I have friends with a B & B. They are continually working to make it a comfortable and restful place for their guests.
We see our Lord Jesus taking a personal interest in our stay. He is involved in making heaven a remarkable place. That intrigues me. Somehow eternity seems more hospitable with Jesus directly handling our transition. He is making all the arrangements on our behalf.
A promise has been given. He intends to be our escort into heaven. No one gets lost, or confused as He is completely present. Our destination is sure, and our Savior is strong. When Jesus spoke these things, His disciples were encouraged and fortified in their hope and faith.
“It is not darkness you are going to, for God is Light. It is not lonely, for Christ is with you. It is not unknown country, for Christ is there.”
The promise is precise. Where I am, there you will be! This is solid and definitive. There is nothing vague or ethereal about this. We will be in His presence just as if it were a dear friend coming by for coffee. Too often this all gets lost in a haze or fog, and reality is just not there. But it is real, and its this life, here and now that has no eternal solidity. And, He has given us His word.