Ash Wednesday (7 p.m.)
St. Peter Lutheran Church
Joel 2:12-19, 2 Peter 1:2-9, St. Matthew 6:16-21
March 1, 2017
Repentance and Reformation
“When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Matt. 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
That is the first of the 95 Theses that sparked the Reformation. The first word of the Reformation of God’s Church was about repentance. If your life needs to be reformed, if a family needs to be reformed, if a congregation or the whole Church needs reformation, this is where it begins—with repentance.
But a Christian life not only begins with repentance. The entire life of a Christian is one of repentance—an ongoing, daily “changing of your mind.” A change in how we think, look at the world, what we love and hold dear, what we believe, with the result that we return to God.
This the reason ashes are imposed today. Ashes are a physical way of saying that our way of thinking and living must change. Ashes are what remains to people who have been destroyed.
Look at pictures of a place that has been through a war, like Germany after World War 2, its cities pulverized to dust, rubble, and ashes by the rain of bombs falling from the sky. You see people with wide eyes hiding in blackened, charcoal shells of houses, their faces dirty from the ash that is everywhere. They haven’t just been going through a hard time. Their country has been laid into the dust and destroyed. The ashes of what they once had smeared their faces black.
Do you recognize that that is how you are? A shell of what you were created to be, sitting in the ashes of the glory you once had, not knowing when fire will rain down from the sky to consume what is left of your life?
In ancient times, in the Bible, when people grieved and mourned, they sat in ashes, they sprinkled ashes on their heads. They did this to show that they had been destroyed. Frequently, along with the ashes, they stopped eating food—they fasted. People do that when they are too full of pain to fill their stomachs; they also do it when war or destruction has so ruined their worlds that there is no food to eat. When God had punished people in the Bible, or when it seemed like He was about to punish them, they would sit in ashes, they would fast, and they would cry out to God from their destruction: “You have destroyed us; please bring us back to life.”
They understood correctly who the God of the Scriptures is. He is the God who, out of a handful of dust, made man in His image, and breathed in His nostrils the breath of life. We were created with glory to bear the image of the one God. But when Adam and Eve rejected the Word of God, they lost their form, just like the palm leaves in the fire. The image of God was destroyed. They lived out the remainder of their lives under a curse until their ruined bodies returned to dust. God gives life. God also destroys life that turns away from Him.
But God is able to bring back the life He destroys. He is able to gather the ashes of the palm leaves and make them once again the green branches they once were. He is able to bring back human beings that have been destroyed by sin; to raise to life flesh and bone that have returned to dust, and to restore the lost image of the Creator to human bodies and souls.
But when He does that in a person, or a household, or a church, it always begins with repentance, with a change of mind.
If a person is a burnt wasteland, a bombed-out ruin, he hasn’t started to come back to life yet until he recognizes he has been destroyed. Until our ruins are rebuilt and no sin remains in us, a Christian cannot be comfortable and satisfied. Could a person who has lived through a war be comfortable and content while his country is burning, his home is ashes, and he is sleeping on a cot in a refugee shelter? No! He will not be content until his home is rebuilt, the fields of his nation are sprouting grain, the roads are paved, there are schools for his children. So Christians can’t be content while sin remains in them.
As we seek to renew our life of repentance this Lent, it is important to remember that repentance has two parts. The first is contrition, which is heartfelt sorrow and terror over our sins, the recognition of God’s wrath against sin revealed in the Law, together with the desire to be free from sin and its destruction. Contrition is necessary, but it is not something we can do or make ourselves feel. It is God’s work within us, and there is only one way that God has promised to work it. That is through His Word—in particular, through the preaching of His Law.
If you listen seriously to the sermons that are preached to you instead of sitting in judgment on them, as so many do; if you allow yourself to be taught God’s Word by the pastor God sent you; if you faithfully read the Scripture; and if you take up the Small Catechism, learn the ten commandments with their explanations, and look at the way you live in light of them, God will work contrition within you—not because you have done a good work by listening and reading, but because He desires that all be saved and come to repentance. His Word is the instrument He uses to create repentance within you.
He will give you a contrite and broken heart, which is the sacrifice of God, which He does not despise (Ps. 51). He will not only terrify you with the threat of His wrath, but if you believe in Christ, He will also create in you the sorrow that comes from having offended the God you love.
Ashes a biblical symbol of the destruction sin has brought upon us. But there is another kind of ashes in the Bible—ashes used not to grieve, but to purify.
In Numbers 19, God commanded that a red heifer should be sacrificed and burned and its ashes mixed with water. This water was used to purify those who were made unclean through contact with a dead body. An animal, completely consumed in the fire, reduced to ashes on God’s altar—those ashes, that residue of a destroyed life, when mixed with water, made a person clean from the impurity that came from contact with death.
God has provided another, much greater life to be consumed in the fire of His wrath for your sins—the life of His Son. In Baptism, the ashes of His sacrifice on the cross, the fullness of His death for the sins of the world, are joined to water and poured upon you to cleanse not only your body but your soul from death. Not only His death under the wrath of God, but His resurrection into life free from the condemnation of the Law. In Baptism you become a participant in both. You are joined with Him. On the cross, the burning wrath of God fell on His soul as He carried your sins as His own. You also were brought to an end with Jesus.
But God is able to raise up again and put back together what He has utterly destroyed in His wrath. And He did. He raised Jesus from the dead on the third day. And in raising Jesus, He raised you and all people up, put us all back together again as a new creation, as children of God. He raised up our ruins, brought our ashes together and re-formed them, remade us in the image of the glory of God, so that we will never taste the second death.
This is the second and most important part of repentance—not only sorrow for our sins, but faith that our sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus. By faith I mean certain confidence and trust that although we cannot free ourselves from spiritual destruction, God has done so. He destroyed our sins in the wrath that He poured out on His Son who bore them. Then He raised up the one who bore our sins, freeing Him from the curse. Instead of ashes He gave us a beautiful headdress, a crown of victory (Is. 61), like the Old Testament priests who wore a crown that said, “Holy to the Lord.” This crown is placed on our heads by God, because Jesus, our head, is alive again. His battle with sin is over and He has emerged in righteousness and victory. He is our crown of righteousness and sanctification. He was poured on our heads in Baptism. By faith we wear His holiness as our crown.
“The entire life of a believer should be one of repentance,” Luther wrote in the first word of the reformation. That means not only a life of sorrow over our sin, but a life of confidence and trust that God has dealt with our sin. A life in which we daily return to God, not only with sorrow over our destruction, but with firm trust that our destruction has been swallowed up by life. Then instead of transforming us to ash from outside, God, who is an unquenchable fire of love, transforms us from within into the image of His Son. He burns away our old self until Christ appears in us.
Repentance begins with the recognition of sin and ends with the certain trust that our sins are forgiven—not because we feel that they are, but because the Gospel of God declares them to be. Where the pure Gospel of God is preached, it will work this change of mind—contrition and faith. And this repentance—true repentance– always brings reformation with it. Wherever an individual, family, or congregation is given this change of mind, and clings steadfastly to the promise that their sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake, that individual or family or church will begin to reorder its life according to God’s Word. It will begin to produce fruit that pleases God. May God graciously create and strengthen this repentance in us this Lent.
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria
St. Peter Lutheran Church
October 26, 2014
“God is just”
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God is just. People fight against this fact in every generation because it is unthinkable [for us as fallen people]. If God is really perfectly just, if He really insists on absolute goodness in people, who can stand before Him?
That makes it unthinkable for people and they reject it. If God is perfectly just and condemns all unrighteous thoughts, words, and deeds, there is no way out for us.
So through the ages people have invented escape routes from God’s justice. They have tried to redefine God’s justice so that it isn’t so unbending, so that an imperfect person could still be righteous before God. The Jews in Paul’s day told themselves that they were righteous in God’s sight because they knew His commandments and kept them outwardly. In the time of the Reformation, four hundred ninety seven years ago, some preachers came out and told people that if they bought an indulgence from the Pope they were guaranteed heaven.
If the church is going to be reformed and be what God wants her to be, the continuing task of the church is to shut those escape routes. Every time someone tries to open up a new one the church’s preaching has to show that these escape routes are really traps from the devil. God is just. Because He is just, there are no escape routes. You are either righteous, in which case you will receive God’s praise, glory, and eternal life. Otherwise you are a sinner and an enemy of God.
He is just. That means He doesn’t tell us lies to make us feel better. If you stole something, God doesn’t say, “That’s ok. You were just a kid, and after all it was just something small. And now you’re sorry.” If you stole, you’re a thief in God’s eyes. If you’ve lied, you’re a liar. If you’ve slandered you’re a slanderer. If you’ve fornicated, you’re a fornicator.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
I suffer much, and things go evil with me, but well with my enemies. They live; I die without intermission. They are powerful and strong; I am bowed down constantly. They are held in honor; I am scorned and derided. They have peace; I, strife. They are admired and praised by many, and many people stand with them. I am alone, abandoned. No one takes up my cause or looks upon me with favor. I am a castaway, scorned and forsaken by everyone. Therefore, dear Lord God, take me up, forsake me not. Make haste to help me, because all other helpers will only help me be damned. I seek no salvation, blessedness or paradise in myself or anyone else. I look for it only in You. Amen.
- Luther on Galatians 3:13 (daringlutheran.net)
- A Mighty Fortress, Understood (brokenbelievers.com)
- Martin Luther – Original Sin in a Man is Like His Beard (reformingtoday.wordpress.com)
Prayer on the Festival of the Reformation
(October 8, 2012)
Lord Jesus Christ, You came into the world to call sinners to repentance, and to enlighten every man to eternal life. We praise You with our whole hearts, and thank Your great goodness and mercy, that You have come to this place, and to this church and communion with Your divine word and holy sacraments and have swept out the leaven of the papist doctrine and idolatry. Not only that, but You have also redeemed us poor sinners from the kingdom of darkness and called us to the light of the holy gospel, transferring us into the kingdom of grace.
Oh Lord Jesus, we are too insignificant for all of this Your goodness and faithfulness. But we pray to You with humble hearts that You would abide with us a little longer with Your grace, the divine word and holy sacraments, so that Your holy name would be known among us, alone be feared and glorified, and we live as is well-pleasing to You, and serve You. But whatever evil we have done against You and Your holy word—wherever we have not been willing to listen to the gospel—please forgive us those things, Lord Jesus Christ, by Your grace. Do not snatch away from us this treasure that makes a person blessed forever, but let it be preserved unadulterated by us and our descendants. Yes, Lord Jesus, preserve Your Word among us, because it is the joy and comfort of our hearts.
Protect and keep us and Your whole Christian Church—that is, Your Evangelical-Lutheran Church—from all error, unbelief, and harmful, alien doctrine. Defend against all enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and be our confidence, our strength, our shade and shield, so that the gates of hell do not overcome us. Especially we pray to You, Lord, our Savior, that You would visit the house of our hearts, enlighten us with Your Holy Spirit, purify our hearts, and grant that by grace we may walk worthily of the Gospel, remaining in the truth once recognized and confessed. O Lord Jesus, let Your salvation come to our souls, that we might become eternally blessed through You, and might see Your and Your great glory forever. Amen.
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. Revelation 16:13-15
So….the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) has created a new office of “ambassador”…and it appears that one of the chief tasks of the ambassador will be to practice diplomacy on behalf of Martin Luther to the postmodern west. God knows, Luther would really need it, were he living. He would have many things to say, but I can only imagine what he would say at the thought of a lady in preaching tabs trying to salvage his legacy by saying, “In spite of his hatred of Jews, his support of the slaughter of the proletariat during the Peasant’s Revolt, and his backward attitude towards women, he’s still a role model.” (Yes, that’s what she said. Use google translate and you’ll get the gist of it. http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/luther-botschafterin-margot-kaessmanns-thesenanschlag-11731642.html )
Oh, and did I mention this was the lady who resigned as chairperson of the EKD a couple of years ago after she was arrested for driving while falling-down drunk?
Yep. Margot Kaessmann. The writer of the article, it appears (with my limited German), is decrying the hypocrisy of the EKD in creating the new office for the woman who recently resigned. He notes the irony of a priestess who serves at the altar of the gods of modern, tolerant, multicultural europe–and, considering her disgrace, the service of those idols has not been unprofitable for her–now serving as ambassador for the man who said, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”–and went on to live the rest of his life under a death sentence. And what was his crime? Fidelity to Christ crucified, to the Triune God. Standing by faith on the Scripture as God’s Word, not taking refuge in the authority of the Pope or the Magisterium or the councils or the Fathers, but clinging to Scripture against his conscience and the devil, against the terror of hell, and against all the power of the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor. Luther risked his life and his soul to believe and confess and teach that a man is justified by faith alone without works of law (Rom. 3:28).
The first and chief article is this, That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification, Rom. 4,25. And He alone is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world, John 1, 29; and God has laid upon Him the iniquities of us all, Is. 53, 6. Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood, Rom. 3, 23 f.
Now since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us…
Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered [nor can anything be granted or permitted contrary to the same], even though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink into ruin. For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, says Peter, Acts 4:12…And upon this article all things depend which we teach and practise in opposition to the Pope. the devil, and the whole world. Therefore, we must be sure concerning this doctrine, and not doubt; for otherwise all is lost, and the Pope and the devil and all things gain the victory and suit over us.
Yes. And what has Margot Kaessmann risked for her gospel? That is to say, her priestly service at the altars of feminism, tolerance, political correctness, and the other regnant gods in the west?
Well, she got hammered and resigned, and has kept busy with gigs teaching theology. And now she’s Luther’s ambassador at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Now, God bless Ms. Kaessmann and be merciful to her. I have no pleasure in her being disgraced in public and struggling with alcohol and the attendant personal pain she’s no doubt has. If I was anybody famous, it could be me whose name was on the front pages in 2010. I sin, and even if I’m not getting drunk and driving today, it would not be surprising if I fell into sin.
However, making her the ambassador for the Reformation is ludicrous.
First of all, even people who don’t care about Christianity at all can see the lack of dignity in this. Apparently this is a trait of German pseudo Lutherans as well as American ones. The lady suffered public disgrace, and now you make her the spokesman for the Reformation on its 500th anniversary? Are you kidding? Christians are supposed to endure disgrace–that’s the theology of the cross. But the theology of the cross does not invite you to disgrace yourself by sin and then parade it in front of the world and say you’re glorying in the cross. “If you sin and suffer for it, what credit is that to you? But if you do good and suffer patiently, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you were called, because Christ also left you an example, that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was any deceit found in His mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.” (1 Peter 2)
That’s number 1. Number 2: Luther’s “Ambassador” is actually obscuring what Luther preached and what the Reformation was about. The thesenanschlag (I learned a new word today)–what we Americans refer to as the “nailing of the 95 theses”–turned the world upside down. What was such a big deal about it? Was it that, since we’re justified by faith alone apart from works, we no longer have to worry about sin? That was what the papists smeared the Lutherans with at the time of the reformation–that the doctrine of justification taught by Luther would lead to moral laxity and would undermine social order. There would no longer be clergy and laity, public worship would become anarchic and undignified, etc.
Well, what the Papists smeared Lutherans with, claiming it was their teaching,now actually is the teaching of mainline Lutherans–or rather, those churches that still call themselves Lutheran even though they have given up the Lutheran confession and united with the reformed. Actually now the Lutherans think that the doctrine of justification means, as Bonhoeffer said, “the justification of sin instead of the justification of the sinner.”
Unfortunately, what this means for Luther’s memory, those who want to still believe and confess his doctrine, and the witness of the Reformation is that on the 500th anniversary of the 95 theses being nailed to the Wittenberg door, the world will be receiving a false witness concerning Luther, the Gospel, and the Reformation.
Why did the Reformation happen? It happened because the Holy Spirit saw fit to restore the Church at that time and place, ultimately; but it didn’t happen to make it safe to sin, nor to undermine the Pope’s political authority. Those were, perhaps, effects of the Reformation, but not its reason.
The Reformation occurred because the Word of God was proclaimed, which declares not that sin is no big deal, but instead that it is an incredibly big deal, so big that God will not allow the smallest sinful impulse to go unpunished, but in His justice He will reward with His undiluted wrath all ungodliness, and that no amount of human striving can free us from this wrath. This was the first part of Reformation preaching, which made clear what the Law of God actually says–that no amount of human activity can deliver us from God’s wrath, because God is just.
But the second part changed Luther, and Germany, and Scandinavia, and broke the Pope’s chokehold on France and the low countries and Britain; it made it so that the Americas and Africa were also not locked up in the darkness of a false gospel with no light permitted to enter (at least, not by the church’s hierarchy), as Europe had been.
That was the Gospel–that on account of Christ’s agony and death, God counts as righteous all who believe that they are received into favor for Jesus’ sake. God has laid the sins of the world and His inescapable wrath on His Son, and through Him declares the full forgiveness of sins–and we receive this grace of Christ not by working and striving, but as a gift, when we believe what the Gospel declares–that He suffered for us and our sins are forgiven on account of His blood.
This good news doesn’t free us to live immoral lives, because no one who believes that their sins have been forgiven at the cost of the suffering of God’s own son, and who believes in the great, passionate love that Christ has for him–no one who believes that wants to go out and purposely trample on Jesus’ blood and crucify Him again.
That’s why Luther, later on in the reformation, fought vigorously against Lutheran preachers who eradicated the law from their preaching, saying that the law should no longer be preached, but only the love of Christ, and that people should be moved to repentance not by God’s threats but by the love of Christ revealed on the cross.
What Luther fought against–antinomianism–is now going to be paraded about in 2017 as Luther’s gospel. That’s what makes this whole thing a frightening blasphemy, bordering on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Let me close by painting a picture in broad strokes:
What is left of Christianity in the West in 2012? Rome.
The heirs of revivalists and pietists–but they are floundering, trying to find something more substantial to stand on than emotion and evangelistic zeal and appropriation of American consumer culture. Sadly, when they start floundering, they usually find Calvin–and through him some connection with the church fathers and with sola gratia and sola fide. But Calvin is not the pure gospel. Perhaps he’s an improvement on Arminianism–but it was the flaws of Calvinism that led to the spread of Arminian theology in America anyway. If your assurance of salvation is located in your sanctification, or your experience of the new birth–no wonder if tormented sinners who have no assurance that they are elect look for comfort in the idea that they can choose to be saved.
The vast majority of the rest of protestantism is looking increasingly like Unitarian Universalism. There are some confessional Calvinist enclaves. There are also some confessional Lutheran enclaves, but either we don’t get out much, or we still don’t speak English well. One way or the other the Lutheran Confession–the pure Gospel, the authentic evangelicalism–is mostly unknown as a living faith and a living church. To many people it’s just one more religious movement whose dogmas are locked away in old books in libraries that only experts and scholars visits. To most people it’s simply unknown.
So what happens when, in 1 or 2 or 3, or 5 generations the West’s moral rot finally leads to cultural exhaustion?
We can’t be that far from that now. Human beings can’t fornicate and sodomize and look for heaven in food and consumer products thforever. Eventually cultures like ours that believe in nothing don’t have the energy or the heart to fight the barbarians. They end up convincing themselves that even though the barbarians rape, murder their children, enslave, and plunder, it’s probably bigoted of us to think our values are better than theirs.
But the kids who grow up seeing society fall apart and who lose their birthright have a different outlook. They have forced upon their consciousness things that their parents really knew but convinced themselves that they didn’t–things like–you can’t just sleep with whoever you want, because without stable families and without ordered relationships between the sexes, society crumbles. Things like: there is a moral law, and it’s not forever unclear and uncertain. And the reason there’s a moral law is that there is a God who created the earth and who cares whether or not we live according to the law.
Kids who watch society collapse suddenly have to get honest about these things that we already knew. And when they do, religion won’t seem foolish to them–unless it’s the kind of religion that lied to them and their parents and never bothered to tell them that God hates sin and punishes it in this world and the next, and that He brings judgment on nations that become sclerotic in their rebellion against Him and His law.
Nope, they won’t listen to lying “Lutheran” preachers, and they probably won’t listen to any Christians who even seem similar. They’ll probably be so disgusted with the lying preachers who did not sound the alarm and tell the truth that they won’t want anything to do with the real Luther either.
And that will leave…Rome. Or Islam.
So anyone who wants Jesus but knows that antinomianism is a lie will be all set up for Rome. And people will have forgotten why the Reformation happened.
That’s why it’s not just ironic or sad that this is what the EKD is doing to celebrate the Reformation. But it is in reality a fulfillment of the words of St. John’s Revelation quoted above.
The dragon (the devil), the beast (the Roman empire, or its descendants), and the false prophet (the Antichrist) have unclean spirits come out of their mouths, and they go out to deceive the nations and the kings of the earth, and gather everyone together for the battle against Christ. That is what is happening when the world is deceived into rejecting the Gospel.
Right now we think the worst thing that’s happening is the dechristianization of the west. It’s true that when the communists in Russia and China killed and imprisoned Christians and made the church go underground, that was the work of antichrist. And in those countries where Islam beat the church into submission, not allowing them to proclaim the Gospel to their neighbors–that was also the work of the spirit of antichrist. And now, to have the state churches of Christendom apostasize, and formerly Christian nations willingly living like atheists–that is also a very bad thing.
But there is something worse. Much worse. That is what the Reformation was about.
Worst is when you have a whole continent where the Church is everywhere, where images of Christ crucified are everywhere, where the Holy Trinity is confessed and people are baptized and the Scriptures are read and Christ’s body and blood is even eaten and drunk–but the Gospel is hidden; the saving knowledge of Christ is not preached, and if anyone tries to preach it they are killed and branded an enemy of Jesus.
In that case, the devil’s false prophet has taken his seat in the temple of God, in the Holy Place, and has proclaimed himself God, arrogating to himself the right to contradict God’s Word and displace Christ as the head of the Church.
That is what the antichrist does–and Luther knew who the antichrist was. If the antichrist went into a Jewish temple or simply attacked the church from outside it would be easy to recognize him. What is so awful about the real antichrist is that he looks like a Christian.
Rome is shaping up to look like the only ones who have managed to hold the fort on the only things unbelievers are able to grasp–that is, morality. Note how when the ELCA permitted union with the reformed, or tolerated those who denied the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus or the atonement, there was no huge vote and the church didn’t split. What made the church split? Homosexuality. Unbelievers can tolerate idolatry and waffling on Christian doctrine (I’m not saying that all ELCA folk are unbelievers…what I am saying is that the majority of people in most denominations are weak in faith and usually still think according to the wisdom of the flesh, which does not understand why faith in Christ is important but does understand works.) But even unbelievers know that if there’s one place a line should be drawn in the church, even if we give up all the others, it’s probably homosexuality. Didn’t God send fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah?
So the Lutherans are the ones who are okay with homosexuality. But the Catholics? They publicly have held the line there–and about abortion, contraception. They end up looking far more Christian than mainline protestants.
But the problem is that the catholic church, which emphasizes holiness and proclaims the mystery of the incarnation and death of the Son of God with more awareness of its depths than the Lutherans–denies Christ by making Him a lawgiver but not our only righteousness, our only mediator.
That is why Luther knew the Pope was the antichrist. Because from the very heart of the church of God and looking like a lamb, the papacy enslaves and murders souls.
In Luther’s day the Pope ruled the whole of western Christendom. But for the last five hundred years his total control has been broken. Even though in reformed nations a perverted form of the Gospel was preached, the deception that the pope was the head of the Church by divine right was broken over about half of Europe–and then in the US, and through protestant missionaries a Christian church independent of the antichrist spread throughout the world.
And as a result, many of the things that the antichrist “prophesied” came true. Popes prophesied that the doctrine of justification and the loss of the papacy would lead to lawlessness. They were right. If the pope still dominated the consciences of the west, Hitler would never have happened. Communism wouldn’t have happened. The kings might have grappled with the Pope, as they did throughout medieval history…but they couldn’t get free of him, even if they wanted to, because if the pope put the country under the interdict the king could be certain that he would lose his throne. That’s what happened when people feared the pope’s authority and believed that he had absolute authority over the church (and the authority to command kings and to release their subjects from obedience to them).
If the papacy had remained unchallenged, we wouldn’t have seen the “secularization” of the west either. Because the pope enforced outward submission to the Church by force. When that compulsion was broken–just as he predicted–many people now used the freedom as an opportunity to be the godless people they already were in their hearts.
The problem is that the pope’s compulsion was not the Kingdom of Christ. Because Christ does not make people behave by force. In His Kingdom people become obedient and live holy lives because they are willing, because they are new creatures, and the Holy Spirit compels them to do good works and to resist sin.
So yes, when the Gospel was preached and it broke the Pope’s chokehold on Christendom, it also freed people to be godless and to reject Christ. But it was worse under the papacy. Because then, in the name of Christ, people were forced to give a certain outward allegiance to Christ. But at the same time they were kept from Christ and Christ was kept from them. Because the pope condemned to earthly death anyone who preached the good news of Jesus as written in Scripture, and he threatened anyone who departed from his authority with damnation.
Have you ever noticed how so many people who are lifelong catholics–who may barely practice it at all, or who may be disgusted with it, or who may have embraced some form of protestant theology–how hard it is for them to leave Rome? It’s because just about anything can be permitted in the realm of antichrist–except rejecting the authority of the antichrist and what he calls the “church”.
The lying spirits in protestantism don’t look like fools because they’re all stupid. The devil makes sport of them. He enjoys this because he is still angry that the Gospel arose and dealt a mortal wound to the antichrist’s kingdom, so it’s fun for him to make a joke out of those who bear the name of Luther. But more importantly this mockery and apostasy within protestantism prepares people to be deceived by the antichrist.
May God have mercy on all pastors who have departed from the Gospel; on the EKD and Ms. Kaessmann, and on all those who are presently deceived by lying pastors or a false gospel, or who are imprisoned by the antichrist. And to spite the devil and for the sake of His mercy, may Christ grant again that His pure Gospel be heard loudly and clearly and unmistakeably throughout the world once more before He comes to judge the living and the dead.
“I find nothing that promotes work better than angry fervor. For when I wish to compose, write, pray and preach well, I must be angry. It refreshes my entire system, my mind is sharpened, and all unpleasant thoughts and depression fade away.”
–Martin Luther, Off the Record With Martin Luther: An Original Translation of the Table Talks, trans. and ed. Charles Daudert (Kalamazoo, MI: Hansa-Hewlett, 2009), entry no. 2410b, p. 110.
- Is This The End Result of Protestantism? (frstephensmuts.wordpress.com)
- Luther Said the Darndest Things… (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Martin Luther (lettersfromthetop.wordpress.com)
- Forgotten influence of Martin Luther (savouringthegospel.wordpress.com)
- Feel the wrath of the reformer: The Martin Luther insult generator (holykaw.alltop.com)
- Observations about Martin Luther (fromchicago.wordpress.com)
St. Peter Lutheran Church
October 30, 2011
Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God is just and the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus.
- God is just.
- Justice: Giving to each according to their merits. Hatred of wickedness, love of the good.
- Why it’s good that God is just: God will not allow evil to harm the world forever. He will avenge and save the righteous.
- What God’s justice means for us: condemnation.
- Oct. 31, 1517—The Reformation began with an argument about how the unrighteous could escape punishment.
- What indulgences are, according to RC church today.
- How they were abused and made even worse in Luther’s day.
- Luther’s critique in the 95 theses
i. There is no cheap grace.
ii. Salvation comes to the repentant.
iii. Repentant sinners cannot shun the cross.
5. The evil of indulgences for Luther in 1517
i. They fleeced people.
ii. They failed to tell people the truth of God’s law.
iii. Those responsible were leading Christ’s flock to damnation.
- Replaces Jesus Christ and His Word, leads Christ’s sheep to damnation.
- How the pope reacted to the 95 theses: insisted on his right to free people from temporal punishment–a prerogative of God alone–and condemned to hell all who denied that he had this right.
- Later Luther: the papacy is the antichrist!
4.The spirit of antichrist at work in Protestantism and in the Lutheran church
- Denominations grant indulgence from God’s word.
- Pastors grant people indulgences of cheap grace.
i. We know you won’t tolerate too much of God’s Word, so we’ll try to entertain and attract you
ii. We won’t rebuke widely accepted immorality and we will not call you to repentance when God’s Word
and his call to a holy life slips to third, fourth, or 10th place on your schedule and budget.
3. We grant ourselves indulgences:
i. Times have changed.
ii. I sin, you sin, so we won’t call anyone on it.
iii. Being a Lutheran has come to mean the freedom to obey no one, to despise authority, to be impious, to despise God’s Word, to not pray—to sin.
4. There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
i. What it means to come short of the glory of God.
ii. No difference means all law breakers are equally damned
iii. Preachers and tithe givers and hypocrites and murderers.
iv. That every mouth be stopped and the whole world become guilty before God.
v. No indulgences: justice.
5. A “without the law” righteousness is revealed.
- The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
- A righteousness without the law.
- Revealed in the days of the apostles.
- Revealed again by God in His work of reformation, in the wound he dealt the antichrist
- The everlasting Gospel preached by Luther.
i. Just as the law doesn’t change with the times,
ii. So the Gospel has been the same since the beginning.
iii. Christ came to suffer for us.
6. Jesus the “mercy seat”
i. Priest and sacrifice
ii. The “covering”
iii. God met humans there without wrath.
6. Just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
- God must punish sin to be just.
- God let sins in the past go unpunished—was He just?
- He punished Jesus
- The one who believes this is reckoned righteous
- God is not unjust in reckoning us righteous, because He did punish….Himself.
- He “bore our iniquities in His body”
- God justifies us—that is, reckons and counts us righteous.
- Without deeds of the law.
7. The fear of being justified without the deeds of the law.
- Won’t we just sin?
- Do you not sin now?
- Set free from the power of sin.
8. The Word they still shall let remain.
- The Gospel may have fallen on hard times (or hard hearts) and our life may be shameful.
- God will not allow the Gospel to depart from the earth, even if it departs from us.
- And He will not allow anyone who trusts in Jesus to be put to shame.
- The reformation did not preach a human gospel of indulgence.
- It preached the living and enduring word of God
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.