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Reformation Sunday (Observed)

October 27, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Reformation Sunday

Passage: John 8:31–8:36

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John 8:31-36
Date: October 27th, 2019; Reformation Day (Observed); Series C  
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.
  • We enjoy a lot of freedoms living in this time and in this part of the world.  We are very fortunate.
  • In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is stated that everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: 1) freedom of conscience and religion; 2) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; 3) freedom of peaceful assembly; and 4) freedom of association.
  • Having these freedoms cost lives and we shouldn’t take them for granted - and we should be prepared to fight to protect and maintain these freedoms.
  • I bring this up not to start a conversation on politics, but to bring to mind the freedom we enjoy and to reflect upon it.
  • We are very fortunate to have the freedoms we do as Canadians.
  • But our Gospel reading for today reminds us that we are not completely free.
  • In fact, it says that we are slaves! 
  • Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”
  • When it comes to sin, we are slaves.  We are in complete bondage.  We have no freedom.
  • We can’t help but think sinful thoughts, speak sinful words, commit sinful acts.
  • But even if we could personally overcome our own sinful nature (which we can’t) - we are still in bondage to the consequences of sin - we are still in the bondage of living in a sinful and fallen world.
  • Natural disasters. Injuries.  Illness and disease.  And the ultimate consequence of sin - death.
  • We have no freedom in these matters.
  • We truly are slaves to sin and its horrible consequences.
  • But God has not left us alone to suffer hopelessly in our slavery to sin and death.
  • Our Creator has had mercy on his creation, on you and me, and has won freedom for us.
  • And Jesus teaches us that “truth” is the means to that freedom.
  • He said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
  • The truth will set us free from our slavery to sin and death.
  • And Jesus called himself the truth when he said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
  • And when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, he called him the Spirit of Truth.  Jesus promised, "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26).  
  • In Jesus’ High Priestly prayer, he asked the Father to keep us holy by means of the truth, “[Jesus] … lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, … Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth’" (John 17:1; 18:37).  
  • Even while Jesus was on trial for his life, he spoke of the truth.
  • Pontius Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?"  Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice" (John 18:37-38). 
  • There is a lot of suspicion and skepticism towards truth these days.  People question whether or not truth even exists.
  • We hear statements like, “Well, that might be true for you, but that isn’t my truth.”
  • This type of thinking is also applied to God.  All religious views are understood to be equal and true.  It can be very confusing.
  • That is why our Gospel reading for this morning is so important, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  
  • Jesus tells us that the things we need to know about spiritual truth are contained in his Word.
  • Jesus tells us that he is the Truth.
  • And we can trust that he is the Truth because he is God in the flesh - he became one of us to lead us into the truth.
  • His miracles shows us that he truly is God in the flesh.  His resurrection from the grave shows us that he truly is God in the flesh.  
  • These are events that happened in history that show us that Jesus is who he claimed to be – the promised Messiah.  The Saviour of the world.
  • God’s Word reveals all of this to us – so the Bible is where we turn to for the truth.  
  • Unfortunately, over time, the church had departed from God’s truth.  They had departed from the Bible and introduced the teachings of man.    
  • Instead of receiving the freedom of the truth that comes from God's Word, the people lived in the bondage of guilt.  
  • The church during Martin Luther's childhood used this guilt to exploit the people and make them spiritual slaves. 
  • Martin Luther grew up in this world of guilt and suffered a great deal because of it.  He was tormented and he lived in constant fear and agony.  
  • He confessed that at one time he hated God because he thought that all God did was pile on guilt and threaten people with judgment and hell. 
  • All that changed when Luther began teaching theology at the University of Wittenberg.    
  • As Luther studied and taught the Word of God, he came to know God's Word in all of its grace and mercy.  
  • He began to see that the things he had been taught by the Roman Catholic Church simply did not agree with God's Word.  
  • He began to learn about the freedom that comes from knowing God's Word.  The freedom that comes from knowing the truth. 
  • As Luther learned the truth in God's Word, he learned not only about the law that punishes and condemns, but he also learned about the Gospel that comforts and saves.  
  • He studied God's Word that says, "[Jesus] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25).  
  • He read in God’s Word, "For our sake he made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).   
  • Luther came to know that the Bible is about Jesus – the Old Testament and the New Testament.  
  • It’s about his perfect and sinless life lived for us.  
  • It’s about his suffering and death, his sacrifice in our place, as the Lamb of God received the punishment that our sins deserve.  
  • It’s about his resurrection showing that sin, death, and the devil have been defeated and overcome once and for all. 
  • The Bible tells us that because of Jesus - we are free from our sin - free from its guilt and condemnation.  Free from its death.
  • It tells us that because of Jesus we are declared holy and righteous before God and eternal life is ours.  
  • This is the truth that sets us free. 
  • As Martin Luther immersed himself in God’s Word, he began to understand that God is not a horrible judge who is out to get us.  
  • Instead, God is a loving Father who sent his only Son to save us.  
  • Luther began to understand that God's Word is not simply a book of rules designed to make us miserable.  
  • Instead it is a book of love designed to point us to Christ who takes away our sin. 
  • Thankfully, Luther could not keep this Good News to himself.  
  • He translated God's Word into the language of the people so that they too could have the wonderful news about God's forgiveness and salvation.  
  • As the Bible began rolling off the printing presses, Luther wrote other books about the Bible that helped people learn, know, and trust the Gospel that is revealed in it.
  • God worked through Luther to restore, reform, and bring the freedom of God's truth to the world. 
  • So, we give thanks to God for Martin Luther and for the Reformation of the sixteenth century.  We give thanks because God’s truth was restored.
  • The truth is that God is loving and is filled with mercy and grace.
  • The truth is that all of your sins and failures are forgiven in Christ Jesus.
  • The truth is that just as Jesus was raised from his grave, so you too will be raised from your grave.  You will be raised unto life everlasting.
  • The truth has set you free from sin and its guilt and - now you are free to live!
  • You are free to live according to God’s will.
  • You are free to love and serve others.
  • You are free to boldly proclaim the truth - the truth that God has saved the whole world through his Son and he wants all people to receive his freedom.
  • “…If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”  (John 8:36).
  • Thanks be to God!  Amen.
  • The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.