Next Wednesday (31 October) we celebrate the Reformation. While the Reformation began with Martin Luther inviting debate on the questionable practices of the Church at his time, it led to ongoing debate over a number of years over a number of theological issues which in turn, ultimately led to the beginnings of the Lutheran denomination.
Luther was a prolific writer. Luther’s Works, a collection of his writings, is 55 volumes in length. Despite this, many say that his overall theology can be summed up in five ‘alones’.
While the beauty and order of creation, and our experience of loving relationships can tell us much about and about God’s wisdom and love for us, it is in Scripture alone that God makes known to us who he truly is and his plan of salvation.
As we read Scripture, we discover that salvation isn’t something we have to earn. This is what makes Christianity different from every other religion – the fact that despite our human frailty, we receive this great gift of salvation by grace alone.
Christians participate in a wide variety of rituals and practices as an expression of their faith. These practices, however, are not done in order to make ourselves right with God. We have already been made right with God through his grace which we receive by faith alone. Practices and rituals flow out of that faith and help deepen that faith.
The sole basis of Christian faith and the hope of salvation is in Christ alone. There is absolutely nothing else we can contribute to our salvation. Through his life, death and resurrection Jesus has done all that is required to assure us of complete forgiveness and the hope of salvation.
The fifth ’alone’ is one that we need to be particularly mindful of as leaders in our communities. As leaders we can often come under a lot of criticism and a lot of praise. In both extremes of these experiences we do well to remember that everything we do, we do to bring glory to God alone. We do not lead to fulfill our own egos but to serve God by serving those in our community. This may not change what we do, but certainly effects how we do it.
It is in appreciating these five points of theology that Luther says we are therefore free from having to meet all kinds of rules and expectations, and we become free to live out our love for God by serving others.
May your freedom in Christ be a source of strength and encouragement for you to lead well with all that God has granted you.
Spiritual & Cultural Leader