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It has arrived—October 2017. In a few short weeks, we will arrive at the quincentenary mark of the beginning of the Reformation. Churches across the globe have been celebrating with special events over the last calendar year, all leading up to October 31, 2017. To be sure, there has been an uptick of all things Martin Luther. There has been an amazing documentary on PBS about Luther and his life. CPH has commissioned two new Festival settings for Luther’s Divine Service, one for Small Choirs and one for Large Choirs. New books have been written on the impact of Martin Luther’s teachings, and churches are busy preparing Reformation dramas, concerts, and services.
There is an abundance of Martin Luther merchandise available as well, from Luther Rose ties to a Playmobile Martin Luther figure. You can even find coffee cups that confuse Martin Luther King Jr. with Martin Luther. You can’t make this stuff up!
All in all, it’s easy to understand how a child may get confused about what the Reformation was all about. It is easy for us to make the Reformation all about Luther when he would say otherwise. The Reformation was, and still is, all about Jesus! Here are three tips for you to keep pointing your children to the truth of the Reformation; that they are justified in front of God not of their own doing, but of the work of Christ and Him crucified.
Talk about indulgences
Your children need to understand what was happening at the time of the Reformation. While you could get into the background about the building of St. Peter’s Basilica and the specific names of all of the players, it can be enough for your young children to explain indulgences to them this way:
Do you know how we buy things? When we go to the grocery store and buy food for our home, we give the cashiers money in exchange for the food that we are buying. Five hundred years ago, during the time of the Reformation, the church was selling something as well. They were selling the forgiveness of sins, and this was called an indulgence. This bothered Martin Luther a lot because it did not match up with what the Bible teaches us about the forgiveness of sins that Jesus has won for us.
Go to God’s Word
Now that you have pointed out that the sale of indulgences does not match what Scripture teaches, take your children to Scripture!
You see, God does require payment for sins, but not payment with money. God provided the payment for us in the God-man, Jesus Christ, in His death and resurrection that we celebrate on Good Friday and Easter. You see, St. Paul teaches us: “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
God has paid for our sins, and you have been given the gift of faith! Rejoice in what Jesus has done for you and for me!
Sing a song
The Reformation is all about Jesus and what He has done for all of us. After you have taught your children about this, sing a song that drives home the point! Click here for the music.
Salvation unto us has come
By God’s free grace and favor;
Good works cannot avert our doom,
They help and save us never.
Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,
Who did for all the world atone;
He is our one Redeemer.
Salvation unto Us Has Come (LSB 555:1)
As we approach this 500th anniversary, remember that the Reformation is about what Scripture is about, Christ crucified for you and for me.
God’s blessings as you teach the faith once for all, delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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