The Sword of the Spirit

The Sword of the Spirit

Take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

~Ephesians 6:16-17

Grace to you and peace from the Triune God,

It is on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Castle Church door. 505 years later we still commemorate this day as Reformation Day. Lutherans, along with all Protestants, are heirs of the Reformation. It is our heritage, I dare say, from God himself. Let us, therefore, reflect on what the Reformation stands for and why it still matters today. First, what the Reformation was not. It would be a huge mistake to say the 1,500 years between the time of the apostles and the reformers was all for naught, or to say that there was no gospel and no Christians. In spite of many and glaring faults, we have this promise, “the gates of hell cannot overcome the church.”

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Throughout the ages many saints made fine contributions to the church, St. Monica, St. Augustine, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and so many more. They clearly had the Holy Spirit. Yet there is always opposition to God and his gospel. As I say, the gospel always goes begging. Even within the Church (the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat [Matthew 23:2]). There is just as much need for reformation this day in the 21 st century Church as there was in the medieval Church.

So, again, what was the Reformation? It is a death and resurrection. Both of the Church and of Christians individually. It is a shining forth of the gospel. That is, the article by which the church stands or falls—justification by grace through faith for the sake of Christ apart from works. It is a radical proclamation. A word of God that rings in ears, putting to death the old creature and raising a new creature in its place. The gospel where God does all the verbs for our salvation and we are the completely passive ones, saved by his grace through faith. The gospel is God’s justification of the ungodly proclaimed unconditionally. In fact, it is the unconditional promise of God who promises you a new beginning in Christ. The gospel is where he promises to be your God and remembers your sins no more. That is also what we call the new testament in his blood. His death is your salvation. You did not earn it or decide for it. God decided. So you have a most trustworthy sword that will never fail you—the word of God.

This sword held by none other than the person of the Holy Spirit. And since it is in the Holy Spirit’s hands, you are in good hands. For with the word of God he protects, preserves, and defends you from every evil. The evil one will have no power over you. When the word of God is uttered the evil one is deterred every time. The Reformation matters today as much as it did 505 years ago because it is a witness to God’s faithfulness to us in Jesus the Christ. The Reformation is not to be self congratulatory about human achievements, but a humble boast in Christ as our only righteousness. The word of the Lord remains forever. VDMA.

Peace and joy,
Pastor Levi Powers