Sermon for Reformation Sunday – 10.30.22

+ Reformation Sunday (observed) – October 30th, 2022 +

Revelation 14”6-7; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA


Free and Not Free


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


According to recent academic research on Google, how many religions would you guess are there in the world? The wisdom of the internet says somewhere over 4,200. But in reality, the number is far less than that. When it comes to the question of Luther’s day – how is one saved before God? – there aren’t thousands, hundreds, or even dozens of religions in the world. In truth, there are only two.


Free and not free.


To be sure, there are many religious beliefs out there. An endless list of gurus, guides, and religious figures. But the end result is the same. There are only two religions in the world. Free and not free.


In the religions of the world, no matter the leader, text, or beliefs, the question of salvation finds its answer in what you do. You must follow the 8-fold path. You must adhere to the five pillars. You must keep the Law. It’s all up to you. You must earn. Ascend. Follow. Obey. This is the way of man’s religion, and of all the religions in the world, save one. Salvation is not free.


Not so in Christianity. In the Christian faith salvation is free. By grace you are saved through faith in Christ and this – the faith and the saving – are not your own doing. In the Christian faith sinners are forgiven freely for Christ’s sake, the guilty are pardoned, we who were dead in our trespasses are made alive in Christ Jesus. Christ justifies the ungodly.


For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.


This good news – which Luther rediscovered, and which launched the Lutheran Reformation – this good news was not what Christians in the 1500s knew and heard when they looked for comfort for their conscience, or sought assurance for their salvation, or wrestled with sin, shame, guilt, and death. Instead of turning to the cross, Christians were directed to their own efforts, to relics, pilgrimages, acts of penance, indulgences. Over time, much of the Christian faith had come to resemble every other religion in the world…not free.


Around 1,500 years earlier Jesus spoke to a group of Jews who believed in him. They too were not free.


So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 


The truth will set you free. Not “a truth,” “your truth,” or “my truth.” As we so often hear in our day. Not the subjective, squishy, jello jiggling inside of you kind of truth. But real, outside of you, objective truth. The truth. Truth that is found not in our works or wits, in our words or our feelings, but the Truth in human flesh. When Jesus says the truth will set you free, he’s declaring that he is the Truth; his word is truth; and he is the one who sets us free.


This is what he was teaching those Jews who believed in him. Jesus’ word makes you his disciple. Jesus’ word sets you free. Still, the Jews who were there with Jesus clung to the religion of the sinful flesh, the religion of the not free. They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”


You can hear their pride dripping from their words. We are offspring of Abraham. That was their assurance, their get out of jail free card. But they were not free. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 


Our problem is the same as it was for the Jews in John 8 and Luther in the 1500s. Sin enslaves. Ensnares. Holds us captive. Do you fear, love, and trust in God above all things? Do you use the name of God rightly in worship and prayer? Do you gladly hear and learn God’s Word? Do you honor father, mother, and other temporal authorities? Do you help you neighbor in every need? Do you keep marriage pure and encourage others to do the same? Do you help your neighbor protect his property? Do you defend the reputation of others by putting the best construction on everything? Do you desire what doesn’t belong to you? Are you content with what you have? The truth is no, we are all slaves to sin, as Israel was once a slave in Egypt. On our own we are not free.


But you are not on your own. You are not alone. You are no longer slaves to sin. if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. This is why Jesus was teaching those Jews in John 8, why Luther’s teaching in the Reformation spread like a viral video. Jesus in his saving word was working to set them free. Sets you free as well. Where we deserved death, Jesus died in our place to give you new life. Where we had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Jesus justifies us freely in his death on the cross. Jesus took our guilt to pardon you. Jesus took our shame to cleanse you. Jesus took your slavery to sin to set you free in his dying and rising.


The Son became the slave so that the slave might become the son. And if the Son sets you free, you are free as free can be.


That’s what Martin Luther discovered when He looked at the cross of Jesus and for the first time in his life saw mercy rather than merit. Undeserved kindness rather than an example to follow. When he heard that phrase “the righteousness of God” and recognized that this was not something you worked for but something given as a gift through faith. In his fear and despair, he finally heard that the Law of God, no matter how holy and good and just it is, cannot save. It can only drive you to Jesus seeking mercy, which is what it’s supposed to do. The Law is there to shut every mouth so that no one can boast before God. Through the commandment comes knowledge of sin. The Law cannot set you free.

For that, God has another word, a word of Good News. God declares the unrighteous to be righteous. God justifies the ungodly. He declares the sinner righteous in the righteousness of Jesus. All have sinned; all fall short of the glory of God; all are justified by God’s grace, a gift, given freely through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus through faith in His blood.

Remember, there are only two religions in the world. Not free, where it’s all up to you. And Free – where it’s all done, accomplished, completed, purchased, and won for you in Jesus crucified.

In Jesus you are free. Free from the commandment. Free from the obligations of the Law. Free from the Law’s condemnation. Free from enslavement to Sin. Free from Death. Free to live before God as a justified sinner. Free to serve your neighbor in love. To be freed by Christ is to be healed. Made whole. Rescued. Redeemed. The Son has set you free. And you are free indeed.


A blessed Reformation Sunday to each of you…


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

By appointment only June and July


2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
(253) 922-6977
(253) 922-6977