What’s a Lutheran?
Ephesians 2: 8- 10 If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that question, I’d have at least $ 4.85. OK, I realize that that isn’t exactly how the saying goes, but I hear that question a lot. “ What is a Lutheran?” The answer to that could be as concise as, “A Lutheran is someone who trusts in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for their salvation and doesn’t back down or make excuses for anything God’s word says.” Or the answer could take way more words than I’m allowed on this page.
I write about this question today because this Sunday was Reformation Sunday, the day we remember Martin Luther’s stand for God’s word against the corruption of the church of which he had been a faithful son. At least he was until they told him they didn’t want to discuss God’s word with him anymore and kicked him out. You see, he wouldn’t budge. He couldn’t support things like selling the forgiveness of sins ( no matter how much cash it brought in) until he was shown where the Bible taught that. It doesn’t, so he didn’t. And because of that commitment to God’s word no matter what — I’m a Lutheran.
So what does it mean to not back down from the Bible? Well, what we call the “ Watchwords” of the Reformation might help answer that. In Latin, they are “ Sola Gratia. Sola Fide. Sola Scriptura.” For us, that’s “ Grace alone. Faith alone. Scripture alone.” In other words, when it comes to what we do, we’re agreeing with what Paul says in our text, and what God says throughout scripture: “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” ( Ephesians 2: 8- 10).
You see, our natural inclination, our heart’s desire is to find some way to take credit for our status with God, whether it was a choice we made or a goodness we had. No. God’s word is clear. We are saved by grace ( that free, undeserved gift from God) alone.
And our natural inclination, our human pride wants to add some of the good things we’ve done to the equation, somehow, even if it is just a certain quota after we’ve come to faith. No. Paul says it is “ not by works, so that no one can boast.” Our salvation comes to us through faith alone.
Then, of course, we humans like to stand up and try to figure out how we think things would go better for us, and we naturally want to find a way to say what we want to hear. But no. Our confidence, our salvation, and our guide in life is purely what we find in scripture alone.
Because of those three “ alones,” we have confidence. I don’t have to depend on me. We can depend on God, our mighty fortress, who sent his son to take our place in punishment. Let’s rely on him alone. Pastor Jonathan E. Scharf Abiding Grace Lutheran
The Church of Thyatira:
Then and Now
In Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, there are seven letters to seven churches from Christ. To each church he had a message. He still does today.
The letter to the Church of Thyatira is recorded in Revelation 2: 18- 29. Christ introduced himself as the one who has eyes that are a blazing fire and feet like burnished bronze, indicating his ultimate authority and judgment over everyone.
Christ was quick to commend the Church of Thyatira for their works, love, faith, service, perseverance, and their continual growth.
However, Christ was greatly troubled because of a woman, symbolized by the name “ Jezebel,” who had infiltrated the church and was misleading, corrupting and causing people to compromise with the pagan culture, idolatry and immorality all around them. The church of Thyatira was tolerating this woman and her teachings, and for this, Christ sharply reproved them.
In every age, there are those who infiltrate the church with motives and agendas very different from that of Christ and his cause. We must carefully guard against such deception and dangerous people. One person can corrupt an entire church if left unchecked.
Christ had been more than merciful to this woman and had given her time to repent, but she was continuing her divisive work in the church, so he said she would suffer great consequences and would be cast on a bed of suffering. Not only so, but also those who followed her teachings would be killed unless they repented immediately and changed their ways.
No one damages Christ’s church without great peril to his own soul. Christ loves his church and takes personally those who do damage to it in any way.
To those in the Church of Thyatira not involved in this, Christ gave them words of encouragement to hold fast.
He also gave great promise to those who would overcome and remain faithful to the end, promising them authority to rule the nations and that they would be given the morning star, speaking of himself.
We too, face the same temptations at the Church of Thyatira to compromise with our pagan culture and allow people to get into the church to undermine and bring division from the true purpose of the gospel of Christ. We too, must guard against yielding to the temptation of bowing to modern- day idols.
Each of us needs to make sure we do not have the spirit of Jezebel but that we are fully surrendered to the plans and purposes of Christ for his church.
As with all seven of the letters, Christ closes with these words: “ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” If Christ wrote a letter to you or your church today, what would he say? He is speaking. Are you listening? The Rev. Wayne Rutherford LifePointe Church of the