No other movement of religious protest or reform since antiquity has been so widespread or lasting in its effects, so deep and searching in its criticism of received wisdom, so destructive in what it abolished or so fertile in what it created.Euan Cameron
I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted. At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ ” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is, what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us strong, the wisdom of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.Martin Luther
Preface to The Complete Edition Of Luther’s Latin Writings (Wittenberg, 1545)
It is not from works that we are set free by the faith of Christ, but from the belief in works, that is from foolishly presuming to seek justification through works. Faith redeems our consciences, makes them upright, and preserves them, since by it we recognize the truth that justification does not depend on our works, although good works neither can nor ought to be absent, just as we cannot exist without food and drink and all the functions of this mortal body.
Concerning Christian Liberty, 393.
This day I am praying for the congregation that I love and serve—not unlike any other day—with a particular burden for their love to Christ.
I pray that “in everything [Christ] might be preeminent” (Col 1:18)—in our hearts, in our thoughts, in our desires, in our delights, in our comforts, in our fears, in our words, in our smiles, in our actions, in our silence, in our witnessing, in our prayers, in our devotions, in our patience, in our forbearance, in our listening, in our requesting of forgiveness, in our granting of forgiveness, in our loving, in our giving, in our helping, in our cooking, in our cleaning, in our driving, in our reading, in our working, in our shopping, in our studying, in our fixing and mending, in the training of our children, in our use of time, in our use of resources, in our planning, in our relaxing, etc.—which is to say, in our stewardship of the life that we have been granted this day.
May we be particularly mindful this day that “in [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col 1:19), because our view of God affects our view of everything else.
It is the wonderful simplicity of responding to the love of Christ with a deliberate life. Life is the stage of worship, and too often we are preoccupied with lesser things. May Christ receive His rightful preeminence in our lives this day.
As I think upon those I love and serve in light of these meditations, I am reminded of an encounter between Martin Luther and his mentor Johann von Staupitz. In discussing the risk of reform, Staupitz once asked him, “Luther, what happens if all this works, if you have your Reformation? What happens to the devotions, and to the pilgrimages, and to the relics, and to all the wonderful things of the Church; and to the marvelous, majestic liturgy, with all of its pomp and ceremony; all these things that we’ve grown up with and that we love so dearly and that are so close to our hearts? What will be left when you’re through?” Luther replied, “Christ!”
I pray that we would have the same passion for Christ to be so purely loved in the realm of our own lives. For many, there may be vestiges and relics that we hold to and cherish, which cloud, distort, and corrupt our worship of Christ. I pray that we would risk the loss of lesser things for the glory of Christ in all our affections! And that the pleasures of His good gifts of life would be more fully appreciated and enjoyed in and through Christ.
There is no heart of man—this side of heaven—that is not still in need of reform.
May we see and love Christ more intentionally this day, before and in, above and within, every affection, task, and intention.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:14–21)