"God for Us"
Text: Matthew 11:12-15
We so often here something to the effect of, "It's more important for us to love each other, we shouldn't worry about Doctrine..." today in modern Christianity. The problem? That's Satan speaking.
DOCTRINE IS IMPORTANT!
It is the Devil's hobby to tempt humans to sin. His real work is in false doctrine. He aims for the heart of the church--our doctrine, our Gospel.
Modern Christianity (especially non-denominational and/or mega-churches) often forget about doctrine and teachings--sometimes even saying that it is bad to be so divisive. They want to focus on "deeds, not creeds". Sadly, these are age-old heresies that Satan has used since the death of Christ to drive others away from the Gospel (which saves) and into the Law (which condemns). If Satan takes our Gospel, he has won and he has us in his grasp.
Sadly, we live in an age of doctrinal indifference in all church bodies--Lutheranism is not exempt from this. It is the same old struggle, the church's struggle. Our fight for the Gospel--our fight for truth and salvation--is the history of the church. In fact, every book of the Bible (some more obviously than others) was written to correct doctrinal error.
None of this is special to our modern times or even the Reformation. The church has had false teachers from the beginning. The church has had many "reformers" along the way. So what made Luther different? While other "reformers" were crying out against the sins of individuals in Rome, Luther was focused on false doctrine and false teaching. While others were grasping at mere feathers, Luther grabbed "the goose by the neck, and set a knife to the throat." (from Table Talk)
The Reformation was a time of great theological controversy. The chief question of the day was, "How is a man to gain salvation?" Luther's answer was in Christ alone, through no work of our own, through Faith Alone given to us by Grace Alone as given to us in Scripture Alone. Works are a mere result of faith, not what give us faith, nor can they earn us any form of merit.
Luther stood not only against Rome, but all false teaching in all churches (especially Arminian, Calvinist, Radical Reformed and Zwinglian). Those divisions were largely (at the time) over the Lord's Supper. Luther wrote more about the Lord's Supper than any other doctrinal topic because he knew that the Lord's Supper is the Gospel.
The Reformation was not about Luther, but about Jesus, about restoring the Gospel to primacy in the church.
There are probably more false teachings and teachers now than ever before. The sum total of modern theology seems to be: "God is a nice guy who wants us to be happy." But the Scriptures say more--much, much more. The Scriptures teach Christ crucified. The Scriptures teach the Gospel.
At the end, Pastor read a beautifully dramatic rendition of "A Mighty Fortress", a hymn we had already sung in the service. The words are truly incredible.
1 A mighty fortress is our God,
A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev'ry need
That hath us now o'ertaken.
The old evil foe
Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might
Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.
2 With might of ours can naught be done,
Soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the Valiant One,
Whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye, Who is this?
Jesus Christ it is.
Of Sabaoth Lord,
And there's none other God;
He holds the field forever.
3 Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us.
We tremble not, we fear no ill,
They shall not overpow'r us.
This world's prince may still
Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none,
He's judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.
4 The Word they still shall let remain
Nor any thanks have for it;
He's by our side upon the plain
With His good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child, and wife,
Let these all be gone,
Our vict'ry has been won;
The Kingdom ours remaineth.
(My favorite part of Reformation Sunday are all the wonderful hymns we get to sing, including one of my all-time favorites, "Thy Strong Word".)