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Tag Archives: Martin Luther

Sin Boldly… Pray Boldly

“Sin Boldly” is perhaps the most infamous Luther quote with the exception of “Here I Stand”. Yet, it is unfortunately removed from its context and often misunderstood.

On August 1, 1521, Martin Luther wrote to Philip Melanchton, whose contributions to the Protestant Reformation and its Lutheran tradition is undeniable. Melanchton was the ‘soft footed’ reformer who attended conversations with the Catholic Church on behalf of the ex-communicated Martin Luther, who feared execution. Melanchton was well-written, mild mannered, and a systematic theologian who provided the future Lutheran tradition with its own confessional writings.

In this letter, Luther wrote the following to Melanchton, his friend and colleague:

If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly (or bravely), but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness, but, as Peter says, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly – you too are a mighty sinner.

Martin Luther taught that ‘sin’ is being curved in on the self, which is a condition of our being and not necessarily our poor actions. Therefore, we are always in a state of sin for our focus and intentions are never purely spent on God or Christ reflected in our neighbor, particularly the most vulnerable among us.

Since sin is a constant state of being, the sins of fornication and murder mentioned are not the literally acts of sex outside of marriage and murder alone. The sin of fornication would be the lustful thoughts, glazes, or acts while the sin of murder would be any thought, word, or action that ignores, criticizes, or harms a person in body, mind, or soul. Thus, Luther’s assertion that our shadow side (sinful nature) commits “fornication and murder a thousand times a day” may not be an exaggeration.

Luther understood this shadow side of humanity, which should be acknowledged and not hidden.

The shadow side is always present, yet always forgiven by the pure grace of God.

The truer the shadow side the truer the grace that is needed and appreciated.

Remember, Sin boldly… but pray more boldly – you too are a mighty sinner.

But, may we pray and act more boldly for the sake of our neighbors, the world, and all creation. Amen.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2019 in Newsletter Articles

 

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Quote

In the United States of America we associate July with our declaration of independence and the freedom it symbolizes from the British across the pond in 1776. We celebrate each year with family, friends, cook outs, and of course fireworks.

Although Martin Luther was a German monk in 16th century Germany, his teachings and example can guide our faithful freedom and witness in 21st century America.

Martin Luther, rooted in scripture similar to our recent Galatians texts, taught about the freedom of a Christian. Luther argued that we have been released from the chains of sin and the shackles of obligation under the law, in order to boldly live into and live out our baptismal promises.

Luther taught that since we are released from said chains and shackles by God’s pure grace, we are enabled and empowered to respond to said grace by:

  • proclaiming Christ in word and deed,
  • seeking justice,
  • acting with compassion and mercy,
  • loving and serving all people but especially the vulnerable and the ‘least of these’.

Luther taught that we have duel citizenship in the Two Kingdoms:
Civil Kingdom and Kingdom of God.

  • We are called to be involved in our civil, social world but not necessarily to conform to it.
  • We are called to be involved in the political process for the sake of the gospel.
  • We are called to hold governments and their leadership accountable.
  • We are called to usher in the Kingdom of God in the here and now, through boldly living into and living out our baptismal promises.
  • We are called to embody the mercy, compassion, grace, and presence of God to all people, but especially the most vulnerable and the ‘least of these’.

Luther, however, did not simply teach and preach these principles.
He embodied these in his life.

Luther served on the town council. He had a reputation of standing firm for the vulnerable.

  • The town council, with the influence of Luther, established the first joint government-church operated community chest to provide resources to the most vulnerable.
  • On another occasion, Luther feared a town council decision did not benefit the most vulnerable. He applied pressure for the council to reconsider and overturn the decision by resigning. Due to Luther’s popularity and influence, the council reversed their decision and Luther resumed his position.

During 1527, the plague swept through Wittenberg and Luther was questioned regarding who had the freedom to flee and who had the responsibility to remain caring for the ill. Luther argued that all Christians should accept the responsibility to care for the ill, but that government leaders, clergy, and those with medical knowledge had an obligation to care for the ill. Thus, Martin Luther and his wife, Katharina Von Bora, remained in Wittenberg providing medical and pastoral care to the ill in their home.

May we, freed from the chains of sin and the shackles of the law, boldly live into and live out our baptismal promises in the Two Kingdoms, for the sake of the gospel. Amen.

Christian Freedom in the Two Kingdoms

 

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Lenten Meditation: The Word Sends

“For faith must come freely without compulsion. Take myself as an example.
I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force.
I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing.
And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.”

Martin Luther, Eight Sermons at Wittenberg (1522)

We are concluding our series based on Journey of Lent: the Seven Wonders of the Word. We have briefly explored and pondered how the Word, both written Scripture and Christ, has the ability to create, call, command, shape and sustain. The remaining wonders of the Word is its ability to save and send.

Although I did not and will not focus on the ability of the Word to save, I had alluded to the widely held misconceptions regarding my responsibilities as a called and ordained Minister:

  1. It is not my responsibility to ‘shape’ you into Biblical Living and Old Testament law-abiding Christians. The Word shapes us.
  2. It is not my responsibility to ‘sustain’ (‘fulfill’) you in your spiritual journey.
    Again, the Word sustains us.
  3. It is not my responsibility to bring anyone to faith or to ‘save’ them.
    Again, the Word saves us.

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Posted by on March 22, 2018 in Sermons

 

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You Want the Truth?

YouTube Video

Transcript:
Our texts this week came from Jeremiah 23. Where there is a contrast between the false prophet that speaks into the hopes and the dreams of the people. So they hear exactly what they want to hear. And the true prophet who speaks the light of God’s truth into our dark world, which may not be quite ready or willing to hear.

Psalm 82, God is before a council of demi-gods or humans with significant power and influence. [And] God asks them, ‘how long will you reward the wicked? how long will you continue to let injustice rule? how long will you continue to accept the oppression of the oppressed?’ Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2016 in Sermon Summaries

 

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Awaking the Sleeping Gaint

This is Reformation Sunday, which is historically the celebration of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Thesis to the Church door.

In my experience, Reformation sermons have emphasized either the John text that “the truth will set you free”, Reformation history, or basking in Lutheran victory.

Yet, basking in Lutheran victory might be rooted in a fairytale of our imagination. Yes, the Lutheran faith has survived nearly 500 years, yet vast populations have little to no knowledge of Lutheranism. Further, the harsh reality is that the Evangelical Lutheran Church is America (ELCA) is dwindling and the average age of practitioners is on the rise. Unfortunately, these realities have struck essentially all Mainline Protestant Churches.

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Posted by on October 28, 2012 in Sermons

 

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