Monday, 10 May 2021

First Lutheran Corner: The Reformation or All Hallows Eve

Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Such is the case in our courts today, and such was the case in the days of Luther as he demanded that the church tell the truth to those who needed to hear it, those who were literally being ripped off of the little they had in hopes that what they gave would assure they would go to Heaven when they died.

What a tragedy and in the case of Luther and other reformists, what bravery to stand up against the church and say you are not going to get away with this, for what you are doing is immoral, illegal, and against everything in Scripture.

The lesson for Sunday is about truth, absolute truth (John 8:31-36) and there are many similarities between the culture in which our Lord spoke and our own.

Today we, as Christians, want desperately to speak the truth of God to our generation. Sadly, we are in a minority in our relativistic age. In our day, political correctness is more valued than truth.

We gather this Sunday to remember and celebrate who we are, by God's grace. We are Christians.

It might surprise people to find that Luther himself hated the term Lutheran. In 1522, Luther wrote in his own colorful way, “I ask that men make no reference to my name and call themselves not Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? St. Paul would not allow Christians to call themselves Pauline or Petrine. How then should I, a poor evil-smelling maggot-sack have men give to the children of Christ my worthless name?”

And yet, despite his conviction, this was one teaching his followers would not keep, because, as time went on, Luther's name became so associated with the truth of the Scriptures that to reject one gave the appearance of rejecting the other.

The reformation became official on Oct. 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.

He knew that most people in the surrounding area would see it because this was the Eve of All Hallows’ Day, which was the day to celebrate the Christians who had passed away in the previous year.

Almost the entire community would attend church that evening and it was the perfect time to “Tell the Truth” and the truth is, we are saved by God’s grace alone, not by works!

The basis of the reformation was indulgences; simply put, pay your way into Heaven.

In Luther’s home town of Wittenberg, a man named Johann Tetzel, an indulgence seller, wandered the streets offering forgiveness of sins to the people for money.

Historians of the day recorded his sales pitch, “Once the coin into the coffer clings, a soul from purgatory heavenward springs!”

Luther was outraged! You can’t buy your way into heaven and Luther knew that based on Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Luther was certain that if the pope knew of this practice, he would stop it immediately. The pope was not only aware of the practice – the whole matter of indulgence selling was the pope's idea in the first place to pay for the construction of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome!

In the end, it finally resolved down to this issue: Who has the final say in doctrinal matters – the church? An individual like the pope? Or the word of God?

Join us on Sunday to find the answer. We celebrate the reformation this Sunday and invite all to our service which begins at 11 a.m. followed by lunch.

All are welcome so please come as you are!

Chris DelCol is pastor of First Lutheran Church in Lucerne, Calif. The church is located at 3863 Country Club Drive, telephone 707-274-5572. Email Pastor Chris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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05.10.2021 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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