Do you ever need to hear something more than once? Do you ever find yourself being thankful that certain reminders were given to you again and again? We all have those circumstances in our lives where we benefitted from repetition. We all can think of those moments when we were rewarded and encouraged by something foundational.
Why do we need reminders? Why do we need repetition? For starters, we can be forgetful people. We can have things so clear and solid one day and then the next day fall into confusion and doubt all over again. We can grow lax or become too comfortable with our routines that we take for granted some of the basic building blocks of our existence. We don’t intentionally try to do these things. Most of us don’t intentionally try to be forgetful or distracted, but these times happen. Hence, our need for reminders.
This week, we get to have one of these life-giving reminders delivered to us. On this Reformation Sunday, we look back over 500 years ago to when a Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany that sparked what became known as the Reformation.
Luther credits his reading of Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome as an essential and formative resource for his discovery of God’s grace given to us in the Gospel. Romans 1:17 was especially influential to Luther as it reads: For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” We see this echoed in our text this week in Romans 3, where Paul writes: But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
These are some of the hallmark, foundational building blocks of Christianity. The gift of faith in Christ. The Good News of the Gospel. God declaring us righteous because of what Jesus has done. And yet, these are often the same things that, as essential as they are, can tend to be forgotten or taken for granted all too often in our lives. We can hear these things and say, “Yeah, I know that” or “I’ve heard that before” but what role do those words and reminders play as we live our lives? We need to be reminded of these truths often because they define our new identity in Christ, and they give us a reason to hope for anything beyond tomorrow.
In one of his writings, Martin Luther was quoted as saying: Every week I preach justification by faith to my people, because every week they forget it. Maybe you or I would disagree with this statement, but it does shine a somewhat humorous light on our need of and benefit from this reminder of the Gospel. I need this reminder in my life daily and you do too. I was a hopeless sinner that had no way to justify or defend the ways I had rebelled against God. And yet, in His mercy, He sent His Son Jesus to pay the penalty that was mine and give me grace. How good is that?! May it be our prayer that we would be reminded of this hope that we have, and may we live in the freedom that it brings to us knowing that we are children of God.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette