by Lynn Wellumson
WMF National President
(Restoration of “look away” theology)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Our natural inclination is to look inward. Our religions call on us to find in ourselves the strength and resolution to better ourselves, to follow the rules, to make ourselves better persons, to make ourselves good. When our efforts lead to discouragement, we look for inspirational speakers to invigorate us again to double our efforts to keep trying. “You can do it if you try,” call our preachers and teachers. “We believe in you, believe in yourself!” We look within and try harder and fail again and are discouraged or driven to despair. Or worse happens; we succeed at thinking we are really something and wonder why other people can’t be as good as we are.
The Roman Catholica Church had allowed the religion of that church to fall to this inward self-centered state, and Martin Luther became one of its victims. He was filled with despair UNTIL he let God speak to Him through His Word alone. Luther discovered again through that Word that there was hope in looking away, to someone else—to Jesus, who lived a life acceptable to God and who received God’s wrath on the cross because of his sins. Martin found from this Word that this was God’s gift of grace to those who were lost in their sins. He learned that this gift came by those whose faith was not in themselves, but in the Word that promised what Jesus did was for him, Martin, and all who heard with faith. Martin found his baptism and the Lord’s Supper was God giving Jesus and all He accomplished to Him through water and bread and wine. Martin learned that it was by grace he was saved through faith, and that not from himself, it was a gift from God, not because of his works, so there was no reason for him to boast. He began to teach and preach the religion of the Bible so others could discover this certain hope in looking away from self to what God provided through His Son to all of us. Thank you, Lord, for Martin!
(Written for the bulletin back on October 25th, 2015)