Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate a very important event in the history of the world. When Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the church in Germany, a movement began that changed many things in Europe and the world. Therefore, today everyone recognizes the beginnin of the Reformation of the sixteenth century.
The Reformation changed the relationship between the church and the civil government. I will talk briefly about the history of the church before the sixteenth century. For the first three hundred years of church history, Christians were persecuted by the ancient Roman Empire. Everything changed in the fourth century when Christianity became the official religion of the empire. Suddenly, it was easier to live as a Christian and confess the faith publicly. Also, the bishops, the leaders of the church, became respected men with influence. The church in Rome was located at the center of the empire, so the bishop of Rome had more power and influence than any of them. In time, the bishops lived like earthly princes.
With the collapse of the ancient empire, the power of the bishops grew even more, because people sought the church as a refuge from disorder. The rule of Rome was hard, but for centuries the Roman Empire ensured political stability around the Mediterranean Sea. The power of the bishops grew more and more, but the church forgot its mission. The maintenance of earthly power took precedence over the proclamation of the gospel.
In addition, in the tenth century, Charlemagne, king of France, extended his kingdom over most of Europe and revived the title of emperor. Charlemagne was crowned Emperor in Rome by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. Thus began the Holy Roman Empire. The government recognized the church of Rome as the official church of the state, and the church claimed authority to punish heretics.
Jesus Christ said, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36) and when He was tempted by the devil, He rejected the rule of all the countries of the world if He would worship the devil. According to the Scriptures, the civil government has the authority to maintain the safety of the streets and protect the borders and collect taxes for these purposes. The civil government can not judge human souls, nor is it responsible for their salvation. On the other side, the church does not have the authority to use the sword, its only weapons are the Word and the sacraments.
The kingdom of government belongs to the kingdom of God's power, the order of creation. The authority of the church belongs to the kingdom of grace, that is, the promise of eternal life as a gift for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Luther and the Reformers reaffirmed these truths, and now we have religious freedom.
The Reformers also reaffirmed the centrality of the Scriptures in the life of the church. Our readings for today say that we find the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures. The written Word of God has everything we need to know for salvation. Of course, we have the Bible in our own language because of the Reformation.
There are more for those who believe. The world recognizes the Reformation for political changes, and for the distribution of the Bible in all parts of the world. Before the 15th century, all books had to be copied by hand. In 1440, Juan Gutenberg invented the printing press with mobile typography, which facilitated the rapid and inexpensive printing of the Bible and other books. It turns out that everyone today can have a Bible in their hand.
However, beyond the principle, "Only the Scriptures" are "Only by grace" and "Only by faith". We are justified by faith in Christ, not by works. Jesus Christ made everything for us in his death and resurrection. Therefore, we affirm against the concepts of penance, purgatory and indulgences, at that time of Luther and today, salvation is by grace, can not be sold for money.
After posting the 95 Theses at the church door, Luther was threatened with death by Charles V, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. But it did not matter, Luther told him that the authority of the Scriptures is above that of the emperor. And the movement begun by Luther did not end with him. Luther died in 1546. In 1569 Casiodoro de Reina published his translation of the Bible into Spanish. Today we have the Reina-Valera Bible, the Bible in our language, as a result of the Reformation.
The Reformation did not end because Luther, with the help of God, confessed his faith publicly. Public confession is important, it can change the world. Today, Jecksón Gabriel Marquiz Marquina and Kimberly Gabriela Roa Marquina, will confess their faith publicly and receive their first communion. Their testimony is evidence that the Holy Spirit is active in the Word and the sacraments.
The third article of the Apostolic Creed deals with the Holy Spirit, also with the communion of the saints. Because the communion of the saints is the work of the Spirit, equal to the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead and the enduring life. The Spirit gathers, enlightens and sanctifies all Christendom on earth, and keeps it united to Jesus Christ in the true and only faith. The Reformation is evidence that the light of the Spirit shone even in a darker time. We give thanks to God for the gift of faith, of the Spirit, and of the Sacred Scriptures. Above all, we give thanks for the promise of eternal life in that it is peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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