“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
A year ago, Martin Luther was everywhere. From Playmobil figures to PBS specials, the 500th Anniversary marked a renewed interest in Martin Luther. Across the country, LCMS congregations banded together to host worship services, concerts and lectures to highlight the distinctive contributions of the Reformation. A year later and Martin Luther is not quite so “omnipresent.” It begs the question, whether Martin Luther and the Reformation remain relevant for our witness in the world today.
While there may not be the same level of interest in Martin Luther this year, the theological emphases of the “Solas,” justification, law and gospel, and vocation are just as relevant and important today as they were a year ago or 501 years ago. The primacy of the Word of God as the basis for all of our preaching and teaching is evidenced at every kitchen table for family devotions, every classroom where the teacher opens the Scriptures to students and every pulpit from which the pastor proclaims the certain truth of God’s Word. The comforting words of the Gospel are spoken by pastors at the bedside of dying saints and by ordinary saints to troubled friends in need of a message of hope. Distinguishing law and gospel is an art form that brings sinners to repentance, but sets free consciences burdened by the yoke of the law. Luther’s emphasis on each person’s unique calling (or vocation) gives clarity and purpose to one’s role and work both in the home, church and world. Ultimately, the center of all of Luther’s teaching was on Christ and he fought against anything that would obscure Christ and His saving work.
People may not be learning about Martin Luther on the History Channel this year, but our hope and prayer is that we will continue to proclaim and teach the Scriptural theology that Luther recovered so long ago. As we approach Reformation Day once again, it is good for us to return to Martin Luther’s writings and theology, because he always points us to Christ alone! In a world that seeks to focus us on ourselves, thanks be to God for the enduring legacy of the Reformation because “It’s all about Jesus!”
Prayer – O Lord God, heavenly Father, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people, keep them steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and comfort them in all temptations, defend them against all enemies of Your Word and bestow on Christ’s Church Militant 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