How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. In August 1518, he published an explanation of these 95 Theses. These early writings of Luther demonstrate a still developing theology that will be increasingly shaped by the Scriptures. One of the strongest of the original theses was #62 – The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God. In his explanation, Luther writes, “The gospel is a preaching of the incarnate Son of God, given to us without any merit on our part for salvation and peace. It is a word of salvation, a word of grace, a word of comfort, a word of joy, a voice of the bridegroom and the bride, a good word of peace.”
Though we are far removed from Luther’s day, there are still people who desperately need a good word of peace. On one hand, the world proclaims an idolatrous message that everything is about you and what you want out of life. On the other hand, many proclaim a false gospel that peace can only be found in what you do rather than what Christ has done for you. Rather than proclaiming the true treasure of the Gospel, their message obscures Christ and His merits on the cross. They proclaim only a message of Law about how you must live and where you can go, rather than the Gospel of how Christ has lived and died for you. As Luther also wrote in 1518 in the Heidelburg Disputation, “The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe this,’ and everything is already done.”
This message is just as relevant today as it was in Luther’s day. For people are still burdened by the Law and can find no peace, no good news. We don’t expect those people to find us. Rather, our Lord sends us, His Church, with this great treasure of the Gospel out into the world to seek after the lost. People are not lining up at our doors asking to see this treasure. Instead, we are sent to love our neighbor by bringing them the peace and good news of Jesus Christ. May God strengthen our congregation members to be faithful witnesses like Martin Luther as we bring the good news of salvation to all the world. Happy 501st Anniversary of the Reformation!
Prayer – Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan