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Reformation Sunday, October 28, 2018 - Revelation 14:6-7

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Posted: Sunday, October 28th, 2018 by Pastor Westgate

It was a time of scandal. Churchmen did not act like you want your pastor to act, nor were they properly trained to preach and teach God’s Word to the people. The people were forced to give their money, not for the spread God’s Word, but to buy forgiveness and build a church in Rome you can visit today. Too many did not know the Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer.

Into this mess stepped Dr. Luther. He did not plan to be a great churchman. His dad wanted him to be a lawyer. He became a friar. He knew he was a horrible sinner, but his superior, Staupitz, thought him both extremely talented and quite frankly, too focused on his sins. So he sent him off to Wittenberg to teach the Bible so he would learn the Bible. He knew Christ better than most then, so he wanted Dr. Martin to know Christ too – that would be the cure to his troubles!

He taught the Scripture and came to believe things he’d never confessed before. He learned Jesus is not a mean and cold Judge to the believer, but a dear Brother Who extends His crucified hands to us in love. He learned The Father is not a jerk but loves us so much He sent His Son to die for us so we could be with Him forever. Once he learned from Scripture, he couldn’t hold it back. First he attacked those papers that claimed to be get out of jail free cards. He soon learned salvation is by God’s grace through faith in Christ, and the only authority in the Church is God’s Word. He taught and preached God’s Word alone in church and school every day.

What did he teach? What did he preach? The Catechism is our guide. You had to learn it before you came to Communion. This was not a rite of passage. It was so you would believe what God’s Word teaches; that’s because communing together says you believe the same thing as everyone else communing here, the same thing confessed at this Altar and preached from this pulpit, and that what is confessed and preached is 100% faithful to God’s Word. We learn from it what to confess about ourselves and what to confess about Jesus.

The Catechism first tells us who we are. It isn’t pretty. We’re sinners. We deserve death and eternal damnation. This is because we haven’t served the true God with all our strength and mind and heart. We’ve served ourselves. We haven’t given ourselves over to prayer and study of His Word. We forget He gives us all good things and the best use of our time is for our time to become His time. We’ve not been devoted to our parents or government but have spit at them. We’ve been angry and hated others and even acted out of rage. Our urges have turned towards those to whom we are not married and our spouses have felt unloved. Our little hands have tried to sneak things when somebody isn’t looking and we’ve turned a blind eye to people we could have helped. Our mouths have said things that weren’t true so we could make somebody else look bad or us look good and have not spoken well of the person who needed it most. Our desires since we were conceived have been tuned to sin and hatred of God. For that reason He should punish us. That’s the message of the Ten Commandments.

But God did not want to punish us, so the Creed follows. It tells us God loves us. He didn’t create us just to condemn us. If He did, why would He bother to give us every single thing we have in this life? Why would He send His holy angels to protect us from danger? Why would He send His Son? He did not send Him to judge us worthy of death. That would have made His Incarnation a waste of time. He took on our flesh in Mary’s womb so He could die for us. By that Death He redeemed us; that means He bought us to be His own, rescued us from the power of sin, death, and Satan. He rose from the dead and wants us to joyfully serve Him forever – and there’s no better person to serve. For that reason He sends us His Holy Spirit. The Spirit works through Word and Sacrament. Through those Means, and through them alone, He leads us to faith and keeps us in The Faith. He’s hard at work through them, forgiving our sins and preparing us for Him to raise us from the dead on the last day.

Christ has redeemed us from sin, death, and hell. How do you respond? By saying “Our Father.” You pray Him to make His Name holy in you by how you live – you want to make Him look good. You pray His kingdom to come to you by forgiving your sins and to come to others too; you pray Him to use you for that purpose and to return in glory on the last day soon so you can rise from the dead to live with Him forever. You pray Him to make His will done on earth by stopping all the wicked plans of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. You pray Him to keep giving you everything you need for this body and life, and you thank Him for giving it. You pray Him to forgive all your sins like He has promised, and you promise to forgive anyone who sins against you in return and not hold a grudge. You beg Him to not let you be tempted more than you can bear and to help you reject temptation. You pray Him to deliver you from all evil – to rescue you from the devil and all the evil in this world as well as to save you from this world through death and from death by the resurrection. And then you boldly say Amen, because you are confident God will hear and answer your prayer favorably because He is your loving Father.

Dr. Luther teaches us about the Sacraments next. They are earthly rites Jesus gave us to convey forgiveness and life everlasting. In Holy Baptism He claims us to be His own. Water is poured over us as God’s Name is spoken over us. That marks us people redeemed by Christ the Crucified. We are delivered by the Holy Ghost at the font from the devil’s kingdom to His kingdom. Our sins are washed away and He promises us we will rise to be with Christ someday. We are recreated in His image and now are able to please Him and keep His Commandments.

Connected to Holy Baptism is Holy Absolution. We sin every day. The old Adam who was drowned at Baptism keeps resurfacing. We need to push him back down. That’s what Absolution, God’s forgiveness, does. It tells us God forgives us. That really does forgive us. It really does free us from our sins and the debt we owe for them. It also gives us continued strength and the desire to live in a way that pleases Jesus.

The Sacrament of the Altar is the other Sacrament our Lord gave us. He takes bread and declares it to be His Body. He takes wine and declares it to be His Blood. He gives it to you to eat and to drink. He gives you Calvary’s Sacrifice. Under bread and wine He gives you His Body and Blood. Eat and drink in faith – believe the bread and wine is Jesus’ Body and Blood, that He died to forgive you, and that He gives this to you to forgive you and give you the resurrection of the body, and you have what you believe: forgiveness, life, and salvation.

We have much to thank God for on Reformation Sunday. We thank God that He has given us the saving Gospel. We thank Him that He raised up Martin Luther to teach us The Faith. We thank Him that we have learned his Catechism and confess it; we show we confess it by receiving communion at this Altar. Lord God, heavenly Father, keep us faithful to your Gospel, not because it was Luther’s, but because it is our only way to eternal life. By it pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people, keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptations, defend us against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on Christ’s Church Militant Your saving peace.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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