Keynotes – October 2017

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    The Reformation @ 500
    For most people 100 years is a very long time, perhaps even more than a lifetime. It’s hard to imagine 500 years.
    We remember and celebrate a 2,000 year old event a little bit every Sunday and the Anniversary of Easter every year. Other than that, what do you celebrate that is so old?
    I can’t think of another event in my foreseen lifetime when I will celebrate the 500th anniversary of anything other than the Reformation, which started on October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther nailed 95 points of discussion to the internet of the day, the doors of the church in
    Wittenberg, Germany.
    When people have birthdays they celebrate an anniversary and often people ask what they wish for the next year. As people of the Reformation, what do we wish for? How is the Reformation going? Is it burning strong? Is it over? Does it need to be fired up?
    One major thing has taken place in the Church in the past 500 years. The visible church of 1517 has fractured into many little pieces. There are even new cracks forming within the Missouri Synod. The Reformation pointed out some areas where the practice in the church didn’t reflect the
    Word of God. People thought they could earn or buy their way into Heaven nullifying the work of Jesus. No one could ever do enough to earn Heaven!
    As St. Paul wrote for us,It is by grace that you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
    not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV Ephesians 2:8-10)
    Good works are expected from us just like you expect your car to carry you from place to place. There is no special reward for doing what is expected.
    There were inconsistencies between God’s Word and the practices in the church when it came to people receiving both the bread & wine / Body and Blood in Holy Communion. Both elements are to be given to all those who participate.
    Priests were allowed to marry up to about 1200 A.D. then it was forbidden. Marriage is one of the greatest gifts of God and should be celebrated as such. It reflects the intimate, selfless, loving relationship God desires to have with His people. God doesn’t forbid marriage, just the abuse of marriage.
    And there were abuses within marriage, forbidding what should not be forbidden unless to have children. But that loving relationship is to be encouraged within a marriage!
    Luther was working to rectify these and others, but the Roman church was and is still unwilling to return to the Word of God over the writings of men.
    Today many people treat marriage as if it was owned by man and not God. People dishonor God’s design through divorce, through relationships which ‘go too far’ without the benefit or commitment of marriage. Marriage has been corrupted by man changing the God given
    definition.
    The fundamentals of the Reformation can be summed up this way, “Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone.” We will be exploring these three “Sola’s” (Latin for ‘Alone’) as we approach the celebration on October 29th.
    What is left to do? As Missouri Synod Lutherans we don’t quite fit with many of the mainline denominations or non-denominational Christian Churches. In some ways people will look at what we preach and teach and see it as old fashioned. “Get with the program; it’s 2017!”
    We strive to remain true to the Word of God which is far different from the world we live in.
    Many of the reformed churches seem to have taken the reformation too far to the liberal end and seem to be following social justice and tolerance rather than the Word of God.
    God doesn’t change. His Word doesn’t change. He is the only reference point for all those who want to be saved. We have heard the saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
    Perhaps we should have a new saying, “You can’t have Christ and live like two are not compatible no matter how much we try.
    I suspect that we should never be satisfied with the state of the Reformation. I believe that we should be checking what we preach, teach and how we live, every element of the day, against the Word of God. We need to repent regularly for our worldly tendencies, and rejoice
    even more often because of the love of God and His forgiveness.
    We need to surround ourselves with people who are going to be faithful to the study of God’s Word and keep each other on track. We all need mentors who are going to lovingly care for our wellbeing as a Child of God; people who can encourage us to change and to grow, and
    keep on growing throughout our lives.
    By the Grace of God alone we have been given Faith in Jesus Christ alone as our Lord and Savior. We learn this by the Word of God alone as presented in the Holy Scriptures. We praise God that after 500 years we too can come to God and be saved.
    Have a truly blessed 500th Anniversary!
    Pastor Oatman