Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
The Twenty-Third Sunday
Festival Of The Reformation
Romans 5:1 ff.
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div
(Note: This weeks' Sermon Starter does not lend itself to outline form, so the entire message is being sent--a celebration of the Festival of the Reformation. Rev. Kelly Bedards contributions will return next week.)
Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1 (NIV)
Fall weather gives way to winter, our indoor activities resume. We find the
board games and the puzzles we left in the closet for the summer. Sometimes we
get the picture albums out too and we reminisce about old times and old friends.
like you to activate your imagination this morning. Imagine that you and I are
looking at a picture album of the life of Martin Luther, our spiritual
grandfather. If photography had been available in Luthers time, what we would
find in a picture album of his life?
text from Romans is full of memories where our Reformation heritage is
concerned. Thats because the Letter to the Romans contains so many of the
teachings that were precious to Martin Luther.
a picture of Grandpa Luther in the Monastery. He doesnt look very happy. In
fact, it looks as if he is torturing himself. Heres a picture of him lying on
the cold stone floor of his monastery cell. He has thrown off his blanket
because he is punishing himself for his sins, trying to find peace with God. But
the more he tried, the farther he found himself from peace with God and peace of
Luther told us that he often read about The Righteousness Of God in
the Bible. It filled him with anger toward God. Thats why todays text was
so important to him. Paul is pointing to the very thing that Martin Luther was
Since we have been justified through faith, we
have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ....
a connection because the word righteousness and the word justified
come from the same root word in the Bible. Thank God that the Holy Spirit
made it clear to Grandpa Luther that this righteousness of God is
not something that God wants from us, but is rather something that God
wants to give to us. Paul wrote in Chapter 1 of Romans 17),
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is
revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is
written: The righteous will live by faith.
Grandpa Luther saw this light shining in Gods Word he said:
I thought I saw the gates of heaven swing wide
how Grandpa Luther described that realization:
This expression being justified includes the
fact that we are considered just for the sake of Christ. And no sin,
neither our former sin nor that still clinging to our flesh, is laid to our
Luther always taught us to look away from ourselves and to fix our eyes on
Jesus. He would never let us forget that no one enters heaven without
righteousness and that ours by the Law just isnt good enough. Remember the
weight that was lifted off of your shoulders when you realized that God includes
you in his Good News? God charges your sins to Jesus and He credits your
account with Jesus perfect righteousness.
what Great Grand-Father Paul wrote about that:
God was reconciling the world to himself in
Christ, not counting men's sins against them...God made him who had no sin to be
sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
a picture of Grandpa Luther teaching this during a message in Church:
A Christian is righteous and holy by a foreign
righteousness. This grace is not something human; it is not some sort of quality
in the heart. It consists completely in the gift of another and is a pure gift
of God, who shows mercy for Christs sake. Therefore, a Christian is righteous
in respect to Gods grace and the free forgiveness of sins which comes to
those who admit their sin and believe that God is gracious and forgiving for
Jesus sake, who was delivered up to death for our sins.
we turn the page in the picture album, imagine someone in our spiritual family
sharing another memory:
The thing I
remember about Grandpa Luther was that he would never let us talk very
long about God without talking about what Jesus did for us. Come to think
of it--Great Grand-Father Paul taught that truth to Grandpa Luther. Paul wrote: Being justified through faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ....
reminds me of one of Grandpa Luthers favorite sayings:
Scripture abounds in Christ, God and Marys Son. All has to do with this Son,
that we might know him.
Grand Father Peter said the same thing in Acts chapter 10:
This is the message God sent to the people of
Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
...all the prophets testify that everyone who believes in him receives
forgiveness of sins through his name.
reminds me of something else that Grandpa Luther said. He would always tell us
that we Christians are at the same time sinners and yet saints, Gods holy
people. I remember what he said about that:
Learn Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to
him and despairing of yourself to say: Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness,
but I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and have given to
me what is yours."
he want on to say:
Beware of ever wanting to look so pure that you
do not want to look like a sinner or that you are no sinner in your own eyes. For
Christ dwells in sinners only. For he came down from heaven where he lived
in righteousness, to live in sinners also. Always think of this love of His, and
you will find the sweetest comfort. For if we were to find peace of conscience
through what we do, why did He have to die? Therefore, you will find peace only
in Him, despairing of yourself and your own works.
Luther was at his best whenever he would talk about Gods grace for us in
Christ. He took his cue from Paul in todays text:
We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ, through whom we have gained access into this grace in which we
word for access is one of the most beautiful words in the Bible. It
points to One who takes an otherwise unworthy person and leads him into the
presence of the King. You wouldnt have a prayer of standing before the King
and receiving his help without the access or introduction your friend
gives you. Jesus is that friend of sinners who leads us before the throne of a
holy and just God. Peter writes in his First Letter:
Christ died for our sins, the righteous for the
unrighteous, to bring you to God.
heres a picture of Grandpa Luther in the classroom and another of him
preaching in the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Grandpa Luther was a great
Teacher. He would never let us forget how much Jesus suffered for us
and that Jesus blood was the purchase price of our eternal life. He
We must never imagine that saving us cost little
or that peace with God comes through what we have done. Sin and death were
overcome for you in him and through him. Grace and life were given you, but it
meant bitter work for him. It cost him much. He earned it at the greatest
expense with his own blood, body and life. For to put down Gods wrath,
judgment, conscience, death and everything evil and to gain everything good
could not be done without satisfying Gods justice, paying for sin and
overcoming death. All our blessings are given us through Christ, but now without
Paul speaks of rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God. The
glory of Jesus dispels the gloom as death draws near. Jesus victory over
death is brought before our eyes as the Pastor and Christian friends speak of
our Heavenly Fathers House where there are many rooms waiting for Gods
"Magdalena, you would like to stay with your father here and you would be glad to go to your Father in heaven?"
"Yes, Dear Father, as God wills."
And Luther reproached himself, because God had blessed him as no Bishop had been blessed in a thousand years, and yet, he could not find it in his heart to give thanks. Katie stood off to the side grieving, as Martin Luther held the child in his arms until she passed on. When she was laid to rest, he said:
"My dear Magdalena, you will rise and shine like the stars and the sun! How strange it is to know that she is at peace and that all is well, and yet to be so sorrowful."
Luther faced his own death in peace as well. He confessed his faith clearly and
it is reported that he said: "We are beggars. This is true." On
his dying day, Grandpa Luther reminded us that we enter heavens gates with
empty hands, only by Gods grace through faith in Jesus.
pagan people of Luther's day had a poem about death:
LIVE, HOW LONG I DO NOT KNOW.
MUST DIE, BUT KNOW NOT WHEN I GO.
PASS ON, BUT KNOW NO WHEN TWILL BE;
MY CHEERFULNESS SURPRISES ME.
Luther rewrote the poem to show that faith in Christ changes everything:
LIVE, HOW LONG I CANNOT TELL;
GOD ONLY KNOWS AND KNOWS IT WELL;
PASS ON, BUT KNOW JUST WHERE ILL GO
WHY SHOULD I NOW BE GRIEVING SO?
Like our Lord Jesus, Grandpa Luther loved to take the ordinary things of nature to teach us the truth of God. He wrote this about the way Gods people are to speak of death:
"We must learn a new language in talking about death and the grave. It should not be called dying, but being sown for the coming summer. The church yard or burial mound is not a mound of dead bodies, but an acre full of grain, called Gods grain, which is to sprout and to grow more beautifully than any man can comprehend. This is not human but divine language, for such thoughts you will not find in the books of all the wise men on earth.
Among Christians, this ought to be the language. They also have a different Master, the Holy Spirit, who through the Word of God teaches them to understand this heavenly language and to speak it.
So, when I see my love one buried and lie under the ground, I as a Christian, should not say, here lies a corpse. Rather, there lies my dear Father, Mother, child, or friend, and today or tomorrow I shall lie there with them. What are they? Pure kernels of grain, which will grow immortal and imperishable, far more beautiful than the green crops in the field when the summer is coming. This is speaking of the matter in heavenly language, as God and the angels speak. ...We must clear our eyes and speak of it according to Gods Word."
this Reformation Festival, we pause to thank our Heavenly Father for this
messenger ...who had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the
earth-- to every nation, tribe, language and people (Rev. 14:6). Amen.
Rev. Wayne Dobratz
Ministry Health Sermon
Copyright 2002 Ministry Health, LLC
Go to Main Page
Main Site: http://ministryhealth.net/
FrontPage and Microsoft Internet Explorer are registered trademarks of
This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:31 PM