What is a Lutheran? Part Two
Last month we took a look at some of the basics of what Lutherans believe, including a crash course on the Reformation. This month we will look at what Lutherans teach on the most important issues of the Christian faith- that of sin and grace, God’s grace shown to us through Christ.
Based on the Scriptures we believe that every human being ever born is sinful. Now ‘sin’ is a word that we don’t use too much in our culture today. ‘Sin’ includes all the wrong things that we do, especially the ways that we disobey the rules set down by God. But sin is much deeper than simply a list of bad things that we do. Sin is a corruption, it is a disease, it is poison running through our veins. We are born in rebellion against God, and it is a rebellion that we cannot end by ourselves. The Bible calls us ‘dead’ in our sins, and just as a dead person cannot stop being dead by himself, so we cannot be saved from our sins by any effort of our own.
Lutherans believe that God did not leave sinful humanity in its sin. His justice demanded punishment, but His love for His creation demanded action. And so Jesus Christ, both true God and true man, came into the world. He lived the perfect life that we could not, and yet bore our sin, facing God’s punishment in our place. He was crucified as a criminal on the cross, and there He paid for all of our sins through His blood. God’s punishment was poured out on Him, and because He took on that punishment, we do not have to face it. But even after He paid for our sin through His death, Jesus had one more enemy to defeat- death. And so on Easter Sunday He rose, breaking the bonds of death that held Him, and us, captive. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus won the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven for all humanity. Without Christ we could only look forward to death and God’s justice. With Christ, we have hope, the hope that death is not the end, but instead it leads to life, eternal life with our creator!
It is that message that should be proclaimed from every Christian pulpit each and every week. If you are not hearing that Christ died for your sins on a weekly basis, you need to speak to your pastor. If you hear me preach on a regular basis and do not hear Christ and Him crucified, you need to hold me accountable and demand that the Gospel be proclaimed. We are sinners and therefore need to hear this message of grace each and every day.