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Remembering the Past

“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11

On Sunday evening as we studied 1 Corinthians 10, we looked back to the past. Many people today do not study history and do not understand what happened before us. There is great value is studying the Old Testament, so we have a context of Christ’s once for all sacrifice. This is what we have been studying in the book of Hebrews. But there is also great value in studying the history of Christianity as well so we can see both good and bad examples. We can benefit from the heroes of faith and their steadfast example, and we can avoid the error and even heresy of those who have turned away from our common faith.

In Hebrews 11 the author speaks of those of great faith who looked forward to what was to come. In fact, Hebrews 12:1 calls them a great cloud of witnesses.

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. Hebrews 11:13

October 31 marks the 502ndanniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. It was the event that began what we call the Protestant Reformation. In fact, today we remember what happened there as Reformation Day. Not a call to focus on men, anymore more than Hebrews 11 makes us focus all our attention on the people mentioned there. But a call to remember the great faith of our fathers and to seek to continue pressing on toward the goal of our faith like those before us.

In years past I have read some biographies of reformers in October. As the month is mostly gone, I am regretting not finding a good biography to read this month--yet. I am often encouraged and built up in my faith by reading the lives of those who came before us. I encourage you to read the word and the many examples it shows forth. And I also encourage you to find some good books by authors you trust that tell the stories of faith. May we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, always reforming, and always seeking to give glory to God for our great faith.

Through many years of struggle and trial as a monk, seeking faith through works and prayer and meditation, Martin Luther did not have peace with God. But when God revealed to Luther what Scripture meant when it said, “The righteous shall live by faith,” his life was forever changed.

“Then finally God had mercy on me, and I began to understand that the righteousness of God is a gift of God by which a righteous man lives, namely faith, and that sentence: The righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel, is passive, indicating that the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ Now I felt as though I had been reborn altogether and had entered Paradise. In the same moment the face of the whole of Scripture became apparent to me. My mind ran through the Scriptures, as far as I was able to recollect them, seeking analogies in other phrases, such as the work of God, by which He makes us strong, the wisdom of God, by which He makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God. Just as intensely as I had now hated the expression ‘the righteousness of God,’ I now lovingly praised this most pleasant word. This passage from Paul became to me the very gate to Paradise.” Martin Luther

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Romans 1:16-17 

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