Reformation 2017: What’s at Stake? The Same Thing As Always
by Rev. John Preus
What’s at stake in the 500th year of the Lutheran Reformation? The same thing as always: The Gospel. It’s attacked everywhere. But if we lose Christ, we lose everything. That’s why we risk everything to defend the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.
How is this battle fought? On what front do we find the false doctrine of works-righteousness seeking to replace the doctrine of salvation freely offered in the obedience of Christ? Where does this error first begin to creep into the Christian mind and congregation?
Long before the doctrine of justification was officially condemned by the pope in the 16th century, and even before it practically ceased to be preached centuries earlier, the foundation of all truth had already been undermined. Scripture was no longer taught to be clear. Popes and councils had to determine its meaning. Christians began to look to philosophers and academics in order to learn what in the world the Bible taught. Behind all the political carefulness of retaining the status quo of scholarship and authority was a deafening agnosticism of what God’s word actually meant.
Luther made his discovery of the Gospel by freeing the plain meaning of the Bible from those who claimed the Bible was unclear without committees and popes adding something to it. Luther, by the Holy Spirit, was able to learn the Gospel and preach it boldly by refusing to let God’s Word be treated as up for interpretation by those who assume the authority to do so. He learned the Gospel by first securing his footing on the Bible.
The article upon which the Church stands or falls is the doctrine of justification. It is the chief article of Christian doctrine. For a Christian to imagine that he can stand on the article of justification while not also standing on the sure and clear Word of God is for him to sink into the mud of worldly confusion and pride until the Gospel becomes something other than what the Bible says it is.
Popes and councils, being composed of sinful human beings like ourselves, can (and do) err, as we all do in our earthly lives. God cannot. God’s Word must therefore be known to be clear, lest we depend on something else. The Gospel is necessarily at stake. The Holy Spirit is no skeptic. He makes assertions. His assertions do not always sit well with our sinful flesh. But God speaks precisely in order that our sinful flesh might be crucified and give way to the assenting confidence of the new man who delights in the clarity of truth.
God has spoken. And we treasure His Word as our great heritage. We learn to know Him as our Father through the grace of our Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit enlightens us by the words of the Bible and unites us together in no other way. If what He says ever seems unclear, this is our fault and reason for us to penitently implore Him for understanding even as we seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. What we must not do, since both history and Christian piety teach us not to, is appeal to human authority to settle our disagreements. Rather than cede authority to any human court or committee, we must commend ourselves to our mutual submission to God’s clear word until we are able to confess together with conviction that we have been taught by God.
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL: This year VBS will be June 12-16 from 9am to 12pm. The theme is “Here I Stand: The Reformation and Life of Martin Luther”. We need leaders and helpers in the following areas: Leaders/ helpers for grades preschool through 8th grade, Craft Leaders, Snacks, and Games. Please contact Karen Radebaugh @ 402.423.8565 or Kaylee Prenosil @ 402.419.0196 to volunteer or sign up in the narthex. You may also register your child/children at the table in the narthex or by contacting Kaylee or the church office by phone or by filling out the attached form and sending it back.
AHRENS FAREWELL: You are invited to a potluck farewell for the Ahrens family on Sunday, May 21st at noon. If your last name begins with A-M, please bring a main dish and salad. If your last name begins with N-Z, please bring a main dish and dessert. Let’s give the Ahrens a Good Shepherd send-off.
CALL MEETING: A voters’ meeting will be held on Sunday, May 21st at 9:10 am in the sanctuary with the purpose of voting to extend a call to be the administrator/teacher at Good Shepherd Lutheran School.
CONGRATULATIONS to Pastor-elect Marcus Williams. He received his first call to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Havre, MT and Zion Lutheran Church in Chinook, MT. Also, congratulations to Vicar-elect Lawson Short of Pratt, KS, who will be our new vicar at Good Shepherd.
KNNA is becoming an important tool of outreach into the community and a point of contact to many who have not previously heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. You can listen to KNNA at 95.7 FM on your radio or at the website www.thecross957.org. Good Shepherd’s services on Sundays at 8 am & 10:30 am and on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm are broadcast live on KNNA. If you have neighbors or family members who cannot attend church but would like to listen to God’s Word, please pass the word along. The schedule includes Bible studies, services, hymns, discussions about God’s Word, community announcements, original programming, and much more!