Galatians 4:8-11 “
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. “
Do you know that I grew up less than a block away from a Lutheran Church. They were so secretive and so seclusionary that our neighborhood honestly believed them to be a cult. Today, I’m an LCMS Lutheran at first by marriage and now by confirmation. I believe in the tenants of faith. I believe in scripture alone, faith alone, and grace alone. I believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
I love what I’m seeing LCMS do. The missions, the outreach, the hope in Christ. We serve a greater purpose today than just to ourselves. We’re following Christ’s words – we’re out there – proclaiming the Gospel. I love it!
Synod allows for autonomy in our individual congregations. Some congregations are very High Episcopal in worship style, while others are more open and contemporary. And we have everything in between. What’s intersting to me, or disconcerting depended on your view point is how often we as a body bicker back and forth about what is and isn’t acceptable to God when it comes to worship styles. I was really disheartened by that until I looked at Galatians recently – the bickering goes back a coupla thousand years. I also found this Martin Luther Quote – on a blog (I’ve forgotten where and I’m sorry to the author I thought I’d bookmarked it) – and low – this “argument” existed in his day as well.
I wanted to simply share the words of Martin Luther with you today. Considering that he is the guy who wrote A Mighty Fortress is Our God – to the tune of a modern day bar song – he’s been on the receiving end of a lot of guff himself. His thoughts facinate me.
Martin Luther, from his Lectures on Galatians (CPH 1963), re: Gal. 4:8-11
“There is no middle ground between human working and the knowledge of Christ; if this knowledge is obscured, it does not matter whether you become a monk or a heathen afterwards.
“Therefore it is completely insane when the papists and the Turks do battle against each other about religion and the worship of God; each contends that he has the true religion and worship of God. In fact, even the monks are not in agreement among themselves; one wants to be regarded as holier than another merely because of some foolish outward ceremonies, when in their hearts the opinions of them all are more alike than eggs. For this is what they all think: ‘If I do this work, God will have mercy on me; if I do not, He will be wrathful.’
“Therefore every man who falls away from the knowledge of Christ necessarily rushes into idolatry; for he must invent a form for God that does not exist anywhere, as the Carthusian trusts that because of his observance of his monastic rule, and the Turk that because of his observance of the Koran, he pleases God and will receive from Him the reward for his labor.
“A God of this kind, who forgives sins and justifies in this manner, cannot be found anywhere. Therefore it is all a vain imagination and a dream, the invention of an idol in the heart. For nowhere has God promised that He intends to justify men and save them on account of religious orders, observances, and forms of worship that have been thought up and established by men. In fact, as all Scripture attests, nothing is more abominable to God than such self-chosen works and forms of worship; He even overthrows kingdoms and empires on account of such things.
“Therefore all those who trust in their own ability and righteousness are serving a god who by nature is no god but is a god only in their opinion. For He who is true God by nature speaks this way: ‘I am not pleased with any righteousness, wisdom, or religious observance except the one by which the Father is glorified through the Son. Whoever takes hold of this Son and of Me or of My promise in Him through faith—to him I am God, to him I am Father; him I accept, justify, and save. All the rest remain under wrath, because they worship him who by nature is no god.’
“Whoever defects from this doctrine will necessarily fall into an ignorance of God and an ignorance of the righteousness, wisdom, and proper worship of God. He will be an idolater, remaining under the Law, sin, death, and the rule of the devil; and everything that he does will be lost and condemned.”