Elder's Prayer - October 29, 2017
Please find below the notes from the Elder's Prayer this past Sunday.
As we approach the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation-recognized to be this coming Tuesday-October 31-I want to draw our attention to a particular verse, that, for at least one reformer, became the hinge by which he came to truly understand God’s gift of salvation. The reformer was Martin Luther and the verse was Romans 1:17 where Paul, quoting Habukkuk, states that the righteous shall live by faith.
What was it in this verse that turned Luther from a life of zealously pursuing reconciliation to God by his own righteous deeds to trusting in God alone for salvation?
He began to understand, as one theologian puts it, that what Paul was speaking of here was a righteousness that God in His grace was making available to those who would receive it passively, not those who would achieve it actively, but that would receive it by faith, and by which a person could be reconciled to a holy and righteous God.
He goes on to surmise how Luther might have reacted in today’s language when he came to this realization as saying, “Woa, you mean the righteousness by which I will be saved, is not mine?”
I’m sure that’s exactly what he said-only in German.
Luther did say this-“When I discovered that, I was born again of the Holy Ghost. And the doors of paradise swung open, and I walked through.”
In the preceding verse-v16-of that passage in Romans Paul says that the Gospel…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
In Ephesians 2:8 and 9 Paul says- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
If you are a Christian, you have the assurance of salvation that comes from God. It is an external righteousness-an alien righteousness-it belongs to someone else-it belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ-it is his righteousness-not our own-by which we are reconciled to God.
What Luther came to understand was not a new truth, but one as old as God’s plan of redemption and one that is Good News to everyone who believes-who has been made alive by God-who has been born again by his Spirit.
Lord as we gather today, may it be with grateful hearts knowing that you showed your love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
He did what none of us could ever do-live a perfect, sinless life-holy and pleasing to you.
And it is because of that atoning sacrifice that we have been justified by his blood-counted righteous, by his righteousness.
And much more-as your word tells us-we shall be saved by him from your wrath against all sin.
Lord I pray that each of us would live each moment of our lives clinging to this precious truth.
Knowing that whatever circumstances befall us-we have a future that is secure-not by our own fragile efforts-but by your almighty power.
May we always be mindful that we are your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which you prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them all of our days on this earth with an eye to eternity secured by your power and grace.
Thank you, Father, in Jesus precious name we pray-Amen.