October 15, 2017
Ephesians 2:8

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

 

Church Historians point to October 31, 2017 as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On that day Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenburg Germany. However that event would have never happened had it not been for a great thunderstorm that occurred on July 2, 1505 on the road to Erfurt Germany. On that day a bolt of lighting struck very near the 21 year old Martin Luther knocking him violently to the ground. Luther was convinced that he was about to die, and so in a dramatic effort to make peace with God he promised to become a monk if he but survived the storm. Luther survived and on July 17th he kept his promise and entered into the monastery.

 

One could argue that it was on that day that the true genesis of the reformation began for it revealed the deep fears that resided in Luther’s heart, the fear that his right relationship with God was extremely fragile and that at any moment he might fall out of God’s favor and be subject to the eternal wrath of God. It revealed that ultimately Luther did not see in Christ a loving savior but rather the avenger of an angry God. These deep fears regarding his salvation, and his desire to find some kind of lasting peace with God, became the driving force behind what would become the Reformation.

 

Luther lived in a time when church teachings and practices kept people in a state of anxious fear. The church taught salvation by grace in baptism, but it also continually warned people that continued sin might cause them to fall out of that grace. So in order to remain saved, a life devoted to good works and strict adherence to religious practices was demanded. So it was that Luther, and many others, believed they were saved by God’s grace but also lived under a terrible fear that sin might cause them to “fall out” of that salvation.

 

As a monk Luther went to extraordinary efforts to do the good works required for salvation. He said every prayer in his prayer book; he confessed his sins daily occasionally remaining in the confessional booth for up to six hours. He went on pilgrimages, he prayed to the saints, he sought to be pure before God in every way possible but all to know avail, for in the end he always remained a hopeless sinner and under the judgment of an angry God.

 

Thankfully one of Luther’s superiors sent him off to study the scriptures, and in his studies he became fascinated by St. Paul’s teaching on faith and grace, and suddenly and dramatically his life changed again. This time it was not a thunderbolt from out of the heavens but an “aha” moment that emerged from the scriptures. In an encounter with Christ, that Living Word of God, Luther was finally able to see Jesus, not as the avenger of an angry God, but rather as a savior filled with grace, mercy and love.   Luther declared, “Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.”

 

From that moment on Luther stopped living in constant fear of God. Secure in his salvation, unshakable in his confidence in God’s love for him and all creation, and filled with that peace that passes all understanding; Luther began to truly live! Deep in his soul he experienced that God in Christ Jesus, in love on the cross, secured his place in God’s heart once and for all. He was no longer obsessed with trying to please God with good works, but instead inspired by grace, empowered by grace, and in cooperation with the grace of God, he became passionate about sharing that grace with others, loving his neighbors, and proclaiming the good news of the Gospel.

 

      1. The Table (I Fell Into Love) - Greg Ronning

 

 

 

I was feeling kind of empty
When I saw her standing there
She was living on the street
And no one seemed to care
My heart grew heavy
I began to fade away
Then I was gone
Nothing to say

 

I was feeling kind of weak
When a man came up to me
Can you spare some change
I pretended not to see
My heart grew heavy
I began to fade away
Then I was gone
Nothing to say

 

I was feeling kind of broken
Just trying to survive
Uncomfortably numb
I sat down and I cried
My heart grew heavy
I began to fade away
Then I was gone
Nothing to say

 

Someone tapped my shoulder
Invited me inside
Brought me to a table
A feast for my poor eyes
This is my body
This is my blood
Arms opened wide
I fell into love

 

She was still out on the street
And I was feeling kind of strong
He still needed some change
And I was singing this song
I opened up my heart
I gave what I could give
Arms opened wide
I began to live

 

If you like this devotion please share it with others via the Facebook button at the bottom of this page! This week’s song, albums, and other songs by Greg, are available on Bandcamp! Get the music free! Greg’s music is listed for “name your own price.” Just choose $0, and download the song or album.

https://gregronning.bandcamp.com/album/all-these-years

 

 

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