Gospel No Longer Obscure
Reformation Day
31 October 2018
An obscure Augustinian monk living in a one-horse town in central Germany unintentionally started the Reformation. The monk, Martin Luther, much to his chagrin did not remain obscure, and the town, Wittenberg, although remaining one-horse, became famous. From the beginning, the Reformation was not Luther's movement but was eagerly taken up throughout Germany, Scandinavia, and elsewhere.
One of the ablest proponents of Luther's theology was one of his coworkers at the University of Wittenberg, Philip Melanchthon. Melanchthon placed his skill in rhetoric and logic at the service of the evangelical cause of justification by faith alone. Melanchthon became the mouthpiece of the Lutheran Evangelical Reformation especially in the Augsburg Confession (1530) and its Apology (Defense) (1531). For Melanchthon, as for Luther, faith is primarily the hand that receives from God all His gifts, especially the merit and work of Jesus Christ. Because faith receives all that God gives, it is a tremendously powerful thing. Faith "does" nothing, it only receives what is already done and promised to us in Christ. God does everything and gives it all to us through the preaching of the gospel.
Luther and his associates began to preach God's doing and what had been just as obscure as Luther and Wittenberg was suddenly known and preached throughout Europe. Luther had no desire for personal fame nor did he want to put Wittenberg on the map. Yet he began to preach the free gospel of God's work to save the world through the death and resurrection of His Son. The gospel, obscured by the work righteousness taught and believed everywhere at the time, now made a brilliant appearance through the biblical preaching of Luther and his associates. The gospel was no longer obscure.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Philip Melanchthon

"Since justification is gained through the free promise, it follows that we cannot justify ourselves. Otherwise, why would there be a need to promise? Since the promise can only be received by faith, the gospel (which is properly the promise of forgiveness of sins and of justification for Christ's sake) proclaims the righteousness of faith in Christ. The law does not teach this, nor is this the righteousness of the law. For the law demands our works and our perfection. But, for Christ's sake the gospel freely offers reconciliation to us, who have been vanquished by sin and death. This is received not by works, but by faith alone. This faith does not bring to God confidence in one's own merits, but only confidence in the promise, or the mercy promised in Christ.
"This special faith (by which an individual believes that for Christ's sake his sins are forgiven him, and that for Christ's sake God is reconciled and sees us favorably) gains forgiveness of sins and justifies us. In repentance, namely in terrors, this faith comforts and encourages hearts. It regenerates us and brings us the Holy Spirit so that we may be able to fulfill God's law: to love God, truly fear God, truly be confident that God hears prayer, and obeyed God in all afflictions. This faith puts to death concupiscence (lust) and the like. So faith freely receives forgiveness of sins. It sets Christ, the Mediator and Atoning Sacrifice, against God's wrath. It does not present our merits or our love. This faith is the true knowledge of Christ and helps itself to the benefits of Christ. This faith regenerates hearts and comes before the fulfilling of the law."
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, 4.42-46
John 8:31-36
Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?"
Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (ESV)
Almighty God, gracious Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect them in all temptations, defend them against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on the Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For all those who celebrate the Reformation of the Church, that their joy may be complete in Christ alone
For all mothers with young children, that the Lord would give them strength to serve and that they would have increasing joy in their blessings
For all who travel, that they would be kept safe and have joyful homecomings
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
Sent by smurray@mlchouston.org in collaboration with
Constant Contact