This week’s devotions are based on the Week 8 “Explore God” – What is a Lutheran? (WATCH HERE)
We live in an era of unprecedented access to the Bible. Yet we live in an era of biblical ignorance. One can find copies of the Bible for very little money or free electronic versions on their phones or devices. In seconds all the content of the Bible is available for one to read and use.
Yet, without any research, the issues of 1517 are the same as 2023. The difference of 1517 was that people did not have access to the Bible and had to rely on whatever someone told them was in the Bible. Bible’s were hand copied and translations in local languages were not existent. People have Bible’s readily available today, but rely on what others say about the Bible and so remain ignorant of what the Bible says. To be fair, this is my perception based on personal experience and not reliant on any scientific research or study.
But the outcome is the same. When people do not read the BIble for themselves, they rely on and believe those that talk about the Bible…clergy, college professors, or social media reels. In 1517 in Martin Luther’s day they relied on the leaders of the church and the local priest to tell them about spiritual things.
In both settings, people were spiritually misled and confused.
Martin Luther as a monk and a professor of theology was given access to the Bible. He started to read it for himself and what he discovered is that the teachings of the Catholic Church were not in agreement with the teachings of Scripture. The church was selling forgiveness through indulgences and promoting personal effort to obtain the right relationship with God. The church was leaving consciences troubled. The Gospel was working on Luther’s heart to bring peace in the righteousness that Jesus had obtained for him. Romans 1:16-17 captures this key teaching:
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Now there was a tension…would the authority of the church prevail over the Scripture as it had done for years or would the authority of the Scripture prevail over the church? Luthers’ desires was the latter, but the reality was the Pope and leaders of the church would not change the traditions and teachings of the church to align with the authority of Scripture.
Perhaps the same is true today. Cultural pressures, academic philosophy, and personal feelings carry more weight in the realm of religion than the authority of Scripture. As a result one seeks to make the BIble say what they want it to say and ignore the parts that would challenge their way of thinking. The Bible is let go of as the authority and one’s reason and feelings become the primary guide for faith and life.
But not so for confessional Lutherans. For confessional Lutherans, the authority of Scripture is the ultimate authority. If the teaching of the church contradicts Scripture, Scripture wins. If reason, culture or feelings pull against the teaching of Scripture, Scripture wins. Every time. For when the authority of Scripture plays second to tradition or reason, all authority is lost. That is what we don’t want to ever lose!
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 TImothy 3:16-17)
Apply: What blessing is it to always default to the authority of Scripture?
Prayer: Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word;
curb those who by deceit or sword
would seek to overthrow your Son
and to destroy what he has done. AMEN