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October View

Blessed Assurance

October is a beautiful month of change.  The weather cools, the leaves begin to turn (some places) and the feeling of Autumn is in the air and at the package stores.  But for us as Lutherans this is a very important month of the year.  It is the month we commemorate perhaps the most important Social and Religious change in modern history (if you consider 501 years modern).  It is the month we celebrate the Reformation of the Church.  October 31, 1517 Martin Luther is said to have posted the Ninety-five theses on the Wittenberg Church Door.

While it may seem like a long time ago, and it was, the factors which drove Luther’s hammer are still very much a reality today.  In Luther’s day, it was the Roman Catholic Church which was the center of the issue.  The Church then believed and taught that Jesus died for sin, but only original sin!  That is the sin that we inherit from our parents and from their parents and so forth from Adam and Eve.  Jesus died to free you from the guilt of sinfulness so that you could add to Christ’s work by your own holiness.  In other words, Jesus only started the work for you, or anyone to be saved, but each individual is responsible to be holy from that point on.  When you sinned, you had to then go through a series of actions including confession to a priest and penance and if necessary restitution of some kind.  This only worked though for venial sins, the much more serious mortal sin was a different matter.  At any rate almost no one, it was taught, made it to heaven immediately, first they had to suffer in purgatory for whatever sin still clung to their souls at death.  This Idea is called works righteousness! 

Luther, being a devout monk of the Augustinian order, took sin seriously and found himself lacking greatly.  He Saw himself in great jeopardy of Judgment from Christ the “Great Law Giver and Judge.”  The other priests and monks accused Luther of making stuff up to confess when they could no longer sit and listen to Luther drone on about how bad he was.  Luther had no Assurance of salvation or forgiveness.  Luther was terrified of God! 

Today you can find very legalistic churches and preachers who will tell you the same kind of message.  “Jesus died for your sin” They’ll say, but you live a holy life as evidence of your commitment to God.  It is believed by many Evangelical Christians that behavior is a way to judge your faith.  In extreme circumstances, there are extra things you should be able to do, like; handle snakes, cast out demons etc.  It can also be that you are not a complete believer if you are not “filled with the Holy Spirit, with evidence of speaking in tongues.”  For these church attenders, alcohol is a great evil, but then there is often also dancing, movies, card playing and gambling that are on the “OFF” list.  It can even be as subtle as just the way the preacher preaches on how a Christian ought to live, or how a successful marriage is made, “ten steps to holiness,” or “how to be a prayer warrior.”  Any myriad of messages that is not centered on the Cross of Jesus Christ for the total forgiveness of all sin, as the answer to the problem of sin.  

October is a month for us to remember that the Gospel is truly BLESSED ASSURANCE, we as believers add nothing to our Salvation nor to our life as a Christian.  If you believe in Jesus, your sin is forgiven in full, you stand righteous because of Christ.   Heaven and all of God’s good gifts are for you and all who believe regardless of condition, sin, station, color, nationality or age.  All God’s gifts are for you.  No one who believes can be condemned!  Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  That’s what the Reformation is all about!  And that is BLESSED ASSURANCE!

Posted by Gary Brown with