Tuesday, October 23, 2012
I Got Nothin' | Devotion by Pastor Tim Smith
Romans 19Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For "no human being will be justified in his sight" by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
21But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
27Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
Martin Luther was, among other things, an astoundingly prolific writer. Collections of Luther's Works contain 55 thick volumes of heavy-duty theological and biblical essays, commentaries, and sermons. When we celebrated the new millennium in the year 2000, Time Magazine named its "100 most influential people of the last millennium." At the top of the list, taking into account the whole world and the past 1,000 years, was Martin Luther. The Protestant Reformation sparked by his 95 Theses changed the course of history and especially what would later become America. There would be no Lutheran Church of the Redeemer had it not been for Luther.
When Luther was dying in Eisleben in 1546, students rushed to his side to commemorate his prolific achievements by recording his final words. What would such a revered man say as his last will and testament to the church and to the world? They reportedly asked him just that question. His response surprised many and even disappointed some: "We are beggars; it is true."
Beggars? Those who had followed Luther's theology knew that his view of humanity was quite low and therefore the saving cross of Christ was elevated all the more. Hope is all about Christ and not about me at all. As St. Paul says in Romans, the foundational book of his theology, (vs. 23 above), "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Whatever we have from God comes to us purely and simply as gift. There's nothing I can do to contrive, finagle, or deserve God's favor. It's all grace, that is, completely free and undeserved. If there's any hope for me, that hope is not in me. It is in Jesus Christ. We are beggars; it is true.
That perspective is why we baptize babies who have not yet made nor can they make a "decision for Christ" as far as acceptance and salvation are concerned. It's all a gift. We must decide if we will live in the truth of God's gifts for us in Christ or live something else (all lies), but we can't do anything to make God love us any more or to make God love us any less. Join us as we celebrate that heritage of God's grace through faith this coming Sunday at Redeemer.
Prayer: I want to make it all about me, Lord. The truth is, it's all about you. Thank you for claiming us while we were yet sinners and for loving us in Christ beyond anything we could ever deserve. Amen.
Pastor Tim Smith