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Reformation Sunday, October 29, 2023

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Reformation Sunday, October 29, 2023

Doesn’t it sound odd that the eternal gospel proclaimed to those who dwell on earth by the angel is the good news of judgment?  We who dwell on earth do not normally consider judgment to be good news.  Yet the angel insists that “his judgment” is the occasion to “fear God,” “to give him glory,” and to “worship him.”  The particularity of this judgment constitutes it as good news.  The judgment is not any judgment but “his judgment,” not at any time but his chosen “hour.”

   Martin Luther can shed some light on this particularity.  In his first public defense of the theology behind his 95 Theses, Luther set forth what has come to be known as the Heidelberg Disputation.  In it he introduces major themes from his theology:  the distinction of Law and Gospel; the contention of free will vs. bound will; and the rivalry between theologians of the cross and theologies of glory.  Thesis Eleven of the Heidelberg states: “Arrogance cannot be avoided, nor true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work.”  Luther connects judgment to the absence of arrogance and the presence of true hope.  In just such a connection, judgment is good news.

     The “hour” of “his judgment” has already come upon you… come upon you in your baptism.  The hour of his judgment has been brought from the end time into your time by your being joined to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by God’s Word with the water at your baptism.  There God’s judgment upon sin was carried out:  death.  All works done in the flesh are mortal works which have but one end: death.  There can be no arrogance when all end in the grave.  There, in your baptism, true hope is given, God raises the dead.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ as the first fruits of a large family (cf. Ro. 8:29) is hope’s guarantee.  The good news of Jesus Christ is God’s judgment upon the world.  The hour of his judgment has already come upon you so that, during these days of your baptism, you enjoy both humility and hope.

Table Talk:  Discuss Jesus as both God’s judgment and salvation…
Pray:  Heavenly Father, hold me in the humility and hope of baptism.  Amen.

Revelation 14:6-7

6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.


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