Gifts and Wages
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. This was the 16th Century version of the church website or announcement board. But the symbolism is significant. The Theses were attacking the Church’s teaching on indulgences; sin was not something that could be bought off, Luther was arguing. Indulgences, part of the whole system of ritual paybacks, turned the Christian life into a mechanical routine instead of a personal faith in the grace of God. Luther understood the difference between gifts and wages. This is what Paul was teaching in Romans 6. In Chapter 5, Paul declared our justification from sin through the righteousness of Christ. In Chapter 6, he goes on to speak of our sanctification in Christ; that as by the righteousness of Christ we have been delivered from the guilt and penalty of sin, so by the power and life of Christ in us we are delivered from the dominion of sin, so as not to live any longer in it. The Reformation took the Church, wandering in the desert of works, and threw us into the ocean of God’s grace and mercy. This little verse reminds us that being reformed means we are dripping with grace, through which now our lives are characterized – by grace through faith.