During the year 2017 we have celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It has been already 500 years since the moment where Martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis on the door of the Wittenberg cathedral.
I asked myself: Which was the great discovery of Luther? Everyone will coincide that the great discovery was Justification by Faith. Immediately I ask: What is actually Justification by Faith? What is it for you?
« Star Wars »
In order to understand correctly what is the medicine for, we need to understand first et put in context which is the disease. Today I am not going to talk about the origin of evil. But I need to remind that we are in the middle of an universal intergalactic battle affecting all the entire Universe.
According to Revelation 12:7 « Then war broke out in heaven ». That war was apparently on standby after the expulsion of Lucifer and his angels. According to Revelation 12:8 « he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven ».
That war arrived on Earth, at the very moment when Adam and Eve accepted the loyalty to Lucifer with their Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Since they wanted to be like God, and the only way to achieve it was eating the forbidden fruit following Lucifer’s advice. These actions had consequences.
« Empire strikes back (The dark side gets in control): Hostages »
When God created Adam and Eve, according to Genesis 1:27 « God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him ». But after the first sin, we all have been “created” at Adam’s image after the “fall”. Genesis 5:3 reads: « Adam … begot a son in his own likeness, after his image ».
According Romans 5:12 « through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned … »
Satan himself showed off of being the one who controls the world. He said it to Jesus during the three temptations. In Luke 4:6 Lucifer said to Jesus: « All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish ».
After that moment in Eden, all humankind became a hostage in Lucifer’s hands. According to 2 Peter 2:19 « they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage », and Lucifer won the battle upon all of us. This situation explains the desperate cry of Paul in Romans 7:15 « For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do » Verse 24: « O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? » We all are hostages, manipulated from the beginning of our own existence.
Did anyone ask you if you wanted to be born in this world? This is not fair. But here we are, contaminated with one spirit which affects us in every decision, and every wrong decision is what we call “sin”.
We cannot run away from this situation. It is necessary that someone from the outside helps us in order to bring us to freedom. We need that Someone gives us a Hand in this war, to set us free from the claws of the Devil. Since in Acts 26:18 we can read that we can turn « from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God». The worst news is that we belong to evil, we are part of it, and therefore, we are also guilty together with the one who has taken us as hostages.
« The return of the Jedi(s) »
In this context of Universal war, this « Star Wars », God finds himself in a great dilemma, almost impossible to solve. We find the one who started the war accusing God with these two arguments:
- If God is just, He must accomplish the Law. He must punish humankind. But if He does so, He is not a loving God. Everyone should obey Him because of fear.
- If God is love, He must forgive humankind, and consequently, Lucifer and his angels. Otherwise, God would be unjust, unfair. So, He could show off His love, but would become an arbitrary dictator.
In the middle of all this, I find myself with my own problems, my wrongdoings, wrong decisions and all its consequences. I am at the same time one victim and guilty of my situation. How could I leave the Dark Side? How could I return to the Light?
God had found the solution long time before the problem arrived. He found the way to be at the same time a God of love and a God of justice.
God sent His Son to take our place. Jesus suffered the consequences of our decisions. By doing so, God succeeded to cope both objectives: Doing justice and to forgive and love us.
The rebellion against God had to be “punished”, let’s say, let it receive its own consequences: The independence from God cannot exist. Because He is the Source of all life, becoming independent from God means to be “unplugged” from the source of life. The natural consequence of this is the absence of life, what we call “death”.
Jesus took our place. He put Himself in the place that corresponded to us. It is because of this situation why He shouted on the cross (Mathew 27:46): « My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? ». It is the absence of the Father, which corresponds to the absolute absence of God in our life of sin. Jesus could not suffer this separation between His Father and Himself. It was this situation what caused His death. God made justice. He accomplished the Law.
On the other hand, we find ourselves with a second opportunity. Jesus not only took our place, He left us His place for us as a Gift for us. He was treated as we deserve, so we could be treated as He deserves!
And that is the true Justice of God. The law was accomplished, as well as love. And all that sets us free so we can follow again that God we had discarded from the beginning. We are declared innocent. Not because we deserve it, but because God wanted to pay the account Himself, and give us a payed ticket as a gift for us.
It is up to us to accept this Present, this Gift given by God freely.
Why was this discovery so important for Luther? He understood that we cannot do absolutely anything in order to escape out of this hostage situation, and at the same time, being declared innocent. We can do nothing to earn our freedom on our own.
In his despair, Luther had discovered how to solve the problem of the Great Controversy, and at the same time, the solution to find again the eternal life.
The key of all the Reformation was not only in the disagreement with the traditional church. It was in Luther’s experience itself. The inner fight he had for many years to find the inner peace trying through his own means brought him to desperation. In this hopelessness he only had a single exit: Look at the eyes of the One who apparently accused him, just to find another reality. God did not prosecute him to punish him, but God was all the time trying to reach him to forgive him.
The ending question is: Have you had this experience with God? That is the key. Luther succeeded in preaching the gospel because the only thing he did was to share his experience. He did not only shared theology, theory. Martin Luther shared his experience, the happiness he found in Jesus.
He understood what is God’s justice, and at the same time, he discovered God’s love. In Jesus all converge, and all this is a wonderful Gift for you.
Many people say that this message is already preached by other denominations, and that we have a distinctive and more specific message to give. It is true that we have a more whole message, but if we skip this first fundamental part of the Message (Gospel) our message becomes incomplete, like other denominations do by preaching only the justification by faith and not going further.
This was the very first step, stage, for Luther, and for every single Christian upon this Earth. We have to start to share this Hope, and after, and only after, the other ingredients of the Adventist message will be added.