Herald Journal Columns
Oct. 27, 2003 Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

The world could be a much better place if only people were nicer

By Rev. Robert Hellmann, St. Paul's Lutheran, Montrose

If only we could get people to stop being so mean and greedy and dishonest, then this world would be a much better place.

A nice sentiment, but it ain't gonna happen.

Jesus explained why it won't happen when he said, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." (Matthew 15:19)

Trying to reform the outward actions of people doesn't do much good ­ it's the heart that is the problem.

Every human being is born with a sinful heart. We see the awful results of sin in the world around us and in our own lives. Cemeteries are a constant reminder that sin robs us of our earthly life in this world and brings punishment on us in the next. All the outward reforms in the world won't save us.

Only a reformation that changes the heart can save us. Jesus made this heart-changing reformation possible. He got to the heart of the matter by sacrificing himself for us.

On the cross he carried on himself the burden of the sins of all people. By his death, he paid the price for every single sin. By his resurrection he showed that his death was indeed enough to atone for all sins. The problem of sin is solved.

How does this forgiveness that Jesus earned for us become ours personally? "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith ­ and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ­ not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God calls on us to confess our sins and trust in Jesus alone for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit works this faith in Jesus in us through the gospel.

The Reformation of Martin Luther began October 31, 1517, when Luther nailed the "95 Theses" (statements for debate) on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

By studying the Bible he had come to understand and believe that salvation is not by any outward reform we can make happen, or by any works we can do for God. Instead salvation is by faith in Christ alone.

Luther pointed out that a believer's entire life should be a life of repentance. Every day we should confess our sins to God and seek his forgiveness by faith in Christ.

As people who are liberated from the curse of sin and freed from its power over us, we will then seek to honor God with holy lives because he has saved us.

It is the gospel of Jesus that has the power to reform and make new hearts lost in sin. May you, dear reader, come to have the salvation that Jesus freely offers you in his gospel.


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