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Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2 ESV) “The Word Alone” (sola scriptura) is the foundation of the Reformation. This confession has helped the church focus throughout the ages on what God has done for us in Christ alone. Here at International Lutheran Church, we have been exploring the Reformation Sola’s of Faith Alone, Grace Alone and today the Word Alone as they point to Christ Alone. More than any other aspect of the Reformation, these teachings continue to shape our faith today.

But what does it mean when we say, “Word Alone”? In this little phrase is the true transformation, not just for the Reformation but for each day as we live in the hope and promises of God’s Word. For as St. John notes, the Word of God brings us something that we are otherwise oblivious to understand or even know – that we are now God’s children and the object of His care and love.

In our natural state we are aware of God’s law, the Word written in our hearts: ‘Do this and you shall live!’ But we are powerless to do it. Because of sin, the corruption of our souls, our misguided judgements, our failures and mistakes, and our wanton rage and anger, we are lost and without hope. We can only fear God and His wrath. We look at our situation and we are filled with foreboding. Like a child dreading the Monday morning classroom, or the business executive facing the year-end stockholders report, we sense the coming revelation with anxiety. And this says nothing about how we might feel facing the Judge of all the living and the dead. We constantly worry and fret over our finances and health, our personal and collective security, and our reputation. Here the Word of God slays us. We read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) and see how much we fall short of God’s vision for His Kingdom. We feel ourselves cut out or worse yet, unacceptable. But this is the alien work of God’s Word.

What is always transformational and truly “reforming” is the proper work of God’s Word, the purpose for which it is sent out – to make alive and raise from death and show us God’s point of view. In His Word Alone, we, like St. John, are transported to the throne room and see the thousands and thousands from every land and tribe, language and tongue all focused on the Lamb at the center. Who are these? These are they who have washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb and now worship Him day and night. John sees how through the Word of God’s promise made flesh, Jesus, He has taken away our sin and made us pure as He is pure. In Him, we are saints! He has brought us into His kingdom, not based on what we have done but based on what He has done. Not based on who we are, but based on who He is. The good news is just this - the preaching of our new standing before God in Jesus.

For Luther, the Reformation, and for you and me, we need this Word each and every day. We need to hear how we are the “blessed ones.” We do not need to fret or worry, but again and again, put ourselves at His feet and pray His Word would heal us, forgive us, and encourage us that we would confess Him before the nations and hold on to His promise until He comes again in glory.

As we celebrate All Saints Day this weekend, we rejoice in His Word Alone that makes us His saints, that we would even be counted worthy to take this Word before all nations, people and tongues so that all would trust in Him.

Pastor Carl