Do you know how many times I’ve been asked that question? "What’s a Lutheran?" According to ASARB, as of 2000, the percentage of the population in Newton County that called themselves Lutheran was right about zero. Of course, that was well before Abiding Grace started, but still, I was pretty surprised to see that statistic. But the more I talked to people, and the more I told them that I was from Abiding Grace LUTHERAN Church, the more I realized that that statistic was pretty close to right on.
So what is a Lutheran? To answer that question, the news headlines aren’t the way to go. In the past couple of years, it seems the only time the word "Lutheran" is in the news in Atlanta is when some groups that use the name "Lutheran" struggle over some questions that God’s word answers pretty clearly. That’s not a very Lutheran thing to do, since one of Martin Luther’s key principles was "Scripture Alone." God’s word is to be the final authority, not church policy or what is popular.
You see, the name Lutheran comes from a guy named Martin Luther, who 491 years ago today kicked off something that came to be known as the "Lutheran Reformation." He was a church man — first a monk, then a priest, then a professor and doctor of theology, but the more he studied God’s Word, the more he became frustrated with what the church was teaching. It wasn’t what was in agreement with Scripture, but what worked for the bottom line, what worked for its own power and prestige. So, on Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses for discussion with the powers that be on the community bulletin board — the church door.
But instead of discussion, he eventually got excommunicated, and became a marked man. And the result? Well, for those who had tried to speak out previously against the church, quick death resulted. But the more Luther pointed to Scripture and spoke the truth of what God says about salvation, the more people followed. God worked true faith in his promises in their hearts, not just faith in a church.
Why? Because, as our reading says, salvation is not a matter of belonging to the right church; it is a matter of God’s love for you in Christ Jesus. So salvation is not an issue of living the perfect life, but being given the perfect record of Jesus. Or as our reading says, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast." A Lutheran is one who trusts totally in the work of Christ revealed in Scripture — or to put it the way Lutherans have for centuries: We believe in salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, through Scripture alone. If you’re interested in finding out more about what Lutherans believe, call (770) 385-7691 now to register for our new Bible Information Class Sundays at noon beginning Nov. 9 or Mondays at 7 p.m. beginning Nov. 10. Happy Reformation Day.