Give Thanks to God for His Grace, Faith, and Word
These are the readings for Reformation Sunday, the First Sunday of End Time.
God’s Word for This Week
On Reformation Sunday we give thanks to God for his rescue from hell, rescue that comes by his grace alone. We thank him for the faith he gives us to trust his promise. We thank God for his errorless Word, the Bible, which gives and strengthens that faith. At the same time, we understand that we can fall away from that grace by unbelief. We recognize that Satan, society, and our sinful self—will daily challenge our faith. Therefore, let us never stray from God’s life-giving Word.
Traditional First Lesson – Jeremiah 18:1-11
To whom did God send the prophet Jeremiah?
God sent Jeremiah to watch a potter form his objects out of clay.
What was the point of God’s comparison?
Just as a potter controls what he forms with the clay, so the Lord would decide what he would do with the people of Judah. If they did evil, he would form their future accordingly with his righteous judgment. If they repented he would form their future differently, making them into a vessel of his grace.
Supplemental First Lesson – Daniel 3:16-28
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not sure God would save them from the fiery furnace. Still, what did they say to the king just before he threw them in? (See Daniel 3:18.)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said that even if their God did not rescue them from the flames, they would not serve Nebuchadnezzar’s gods or bow down to the image he had set up.
What three things did Nebuchadnezzar say that he concluded? (See Daniel 3:28-29.)
Nebuchadnezzar concluded a) that the God of the three men had sent his messenger/angel to save them, b) that the three had done the right thing, and c) that no other god could save in such a way.
What should we conclude from this story?
Among many things, we should conclude that God will bless those who fear him—those who put his Word and command above any other word and command.
Second Lesson – Revelation 14:6,7
The book of Revelation offers a number of symbols and pictures of how the world is and will be until the end of the world. What did the apostle John see in these verses?
John saw an angel who went out urging all people to honor and worship God, for the time of his judging had come.
What connection does this have with the Reformation?
In previous visions, John had seen that believers would suffer many trials and that the enemies of God and false teachers would attack them. Today’s two verses offer the comfort that even in the midst of persecution and false teachers, God’s Word will be proclaimed to the nations. Martin Luther was one messenger who did just that. The Greek word for angel means, “messenger.” May we, like Luther, be messengers of the truth in this wicked world.
Gospel – Mark 13:5-11
What kinds of things does Jesus warn us will continue to happen until the end of the world?
Jesus warns us that many people claiming to be Jesus or the Messiah will come. There will be wars and rumors of wars.
Why should we not be afraid of such things?
Why shouldn’t we fear? God promises to be with us and give us strength. He promises his Holy Spirit, who will help us defend our faith without fear. We have God’s promise of eternal life. We know that all trials are “birth pains,” that is, signs of the new and perfect life that is coming soon.