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The Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost
Festival Of The Reformation

Series B 

 Option #1: "The 5 W's of the Reformation"
Romans 3:19-28
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.D., M.Div.

This day on the church calendar is celebrated as The Festival of the Reformation. An outline given by a college history professor works well with Reformation history and one of Paul’s "golden texts." Here are "The 5 W's of the Reformation":

WHO? Martin Luther follows a long line of people to occupy a place in history as predicted in Revelation 14:6: Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7) He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."

Albert Barnes: "The design...was to comfort the church in all the persecution and opposition which the truth would encounter. The ground of consolation then was that a time was predicted when the "everlasting gospel" would be made to fly speedily through the earth..."

(Note: The spread of the Good News was accelerated by the invention of the printing press in 1450, 33 years before Luther’s birth.)

WHAT? The problem of sin’s condemnation--text, (Rom 3:19 ) Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. (Rom 3:20 ) Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Martin Luther was taught that Baptism covers our original sin. Actual sin had to be dealt with under the "Second Plank," the Sacrament of Penance. Whatever had not been atoned for in the "satisfaction" assigned in Penance must be suffered in Purgatory. There was very little certainty of salvation; only the performance of acts designed to alleviate punishment. But Paul wrote of God’s GIFT of righteousness in Christ: (Rom 3:21) But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25) God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.

Martin Luther: "The Gospel reveals the righteousness of God, that is, it is a gift of God, through faith. The merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written ‘The just shall live by faith.’ Then I felt as if I had been completely reborn and had entered Paradise through widely opened doors. Instantly all Scripture looked different to me. .This passage of Paul (Rom 1:17) actually was the portal of Paradise to me." (Plass, III, 1225, #3905)

WHEN? It is the "eternal Gospel" (Rev 14:6) "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)

WHERE? This Gospel is to be preached to all nations (Matt 28:18-20). The eternal Gospel is to be proclaimed to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people (Rev 14:6). Paul writes the content of this message: 27 ) Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Martin Luther: "Christian righteousness and human righteousness are not only completely different, they are actually opposed to one another; for the latter comes of works, but works come from the former. ...For our righteousness looks down from heaven and descends to us." (Plass, III, 1229, #3913)

WHY? 26 ) He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

The justice of God demanded a punishment for sin. The mercy of God desired forgiveness of sins for the guilty. Jesus was the bridge between the righteousness of God and the justice of God.

Martin Luther: "God will not grant reconciliation and forgiveness without blood and death--the sacrifice of Christ had to consist of the shedding of blood. The cross was the altar on which He, consumed by the fire of the boundless love which burned in his heart presented the holy, living sacrifice of His body and blood to the Father... This is the true sacrifice which takes away the sins of all the world and brings an everlasting reconciliation. (Plass, I, 189-90, #551)

A note for the preacher from The Great Reformer: "Yes, I hear the sermon, but who is speaking? The minister? No, indeed! You do not hear the minister. True, the voice is his; but my God is speaking the Word which he speaks. Therefore I should honor the Word of God that I may become a good student of His Word." (Plass, III, 1125, #3597)

"The common people are captivated more readily by comparisons and examples than by difficult and subtle disputations. They would rather see a well-drawn picture than a well-written book. ...For teaching purposes it is useful to have comparisons and examples on hand; not only Paul but also the Prophets and Christ himself very often used them." (Plass, III, 1129, #3605)

Source of Luther citations: What Luther Says: An Anthology, Plass, Ewald M., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, 3 Volumes

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Children’s Message for Reformation Sunday on Romans 3:19-21

Visual aid: a teacher's grade book

By this time in school most of you have learned what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at. I learned that I am good with words and not so good with numbers. When I was in high school I took a math class that tried to help us with the everyday things in life, like filing a tax return. When the tests were graded, our teacher told us: "If some of you turned in your tax returns, you’d end up in jail."

I know what the Bible means when it says the "whole world may be silenced and held accountable to God." I knew that when it came to the numbers in life, I’d have to have somebody help me.

That’s the way it is when it comes to eternal life. Paul the Apostle wrote: "No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the Law; rather, through the Law we become conscious of sin." That means the Law tells me I don’t measure up to God’s standards, just the way our teacher told us we didn’t do so well in math.

I can hire someone to do my taxes for me. Someone else stepped in where I fell short of God’s Law. Where I have sinned, He was perfect. When it came time to take the punishment for my sins, He stood in my place. The Bible says: There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. That means that Jesus paid the price of His blood so that you and I could go free.

You’ll be hearing about Martin Luther in today’s message. When it came to pleasing God, he was in the same place I was in studying math. He couldn’t keep up. But Jesus showed him in the Bible that God accepts us because of His love for us. Jesus died for our sins because He loved us and because we couldn’t do it for ourselves. It was only after Martin Luther realized God’s love for him that he began to tell so many other people of God’s love. He spoke about God’s love in Jesus and he wrote, get this, 55 different books about God’s love.

Let us all thank God for Martin Luther and the way that he led us back to the Bible, so that we may know God’s love in Christ.

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"Dependence Day!"
John 8:31-36
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

Goal: to see again and/or anew the reality and joy of true freedom
Malady: bondage to supposed freedom(s)--self-rule and self-reign--and sin: forced, slavish, and superficial love
Means: God the Father’s created and stated truth; God the Son’s liberating truth; God the Spirit’s creative truth
1. aletheia {al-ay'-thi-a}, v32: objectively, what is true in any matter under consideration; truly, in truth, according to truth; of a truth, in reality, in fact, certainly; what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man, moral and religious truth; in the greatest latitude; the true notions of God which are open to human reason without his supernatural intervention; the truth as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man, opposing alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians; subjectively, truth as a personal excellence; that candour of mind which is free from affection, pretence, simulation, falsehood, deceit. (Strong's)
2. eleutheroo {el-yoo-ther-o'-o}, v32: to make free; set at liberty: from the dominion of sin. (Strong's)
3. "If you continue in my word...": perhaps a difference is implied between relating to Jesus' word as a slave--something one is forced to do, or as a child--as a loving response to the love received through Jesus' word. (Brian Stoffregen)
4. "Freedom" means to dissociate any sense of privilege that depends on merely physical lineage to Abraham. The despotic master is not Caesar but self-centeredness, an evil and enslaving devotion to created things at the expense of worship of the Creator. (Reed Lessing)
5. [They will]...understand the truth by conforming to it. They will know it by experience and practice, not by intellectual assent. We can and must seek to know both the teachings and the person of Jesus. Carson suggests that our moral commitment confirms the truth that we have come to understand intellectually. Moloney suggests that truth is associated with the person of Christ; it is not intellectual, but personal... Had those in dialogue with Jesus exercised the faith of Abraham they would have been on solid ground. But they were prepared to rely on Abraham's faith while showing none of their own... True freedom is freedom from sin's power and effects. This is what Jesus alone can offer, for he is the Son of God. (Richard Donovan)

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