Pastor's Pen for 05/22/2018If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. The Pharisees had a low view of sin. They thought they could overcome their sin by living a good life – their prayers, keeping of the Sabbath, and good works. (Works righteousness.)

Under the curse of sin we think we can work our way out of sin by being good. A path of futility, trying to please God with good works, will lead either to arrogance or despair. Truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. (John 8) We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. (Isaiah 64)

Scripture teaches that there is ONLY ONE WHO CAN SET YOU FREE. JESUS. The Lutheran Reformation returned back to the truth of Scripture. True freedom is in Christ saving sinners. The Gospel rescues you from the false religion of works righteousness.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3)

The Good News is Jesus saves sinners by His passionate death and glorious resurrection. Good Friday and Easter. We sinners do not deny our sinful condition. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1) Rather, we confess our sins to the Lord. Jesus has taken all your sins away by His Blood.

The beauty of the Reformation is a return back to the truth of the Scriptures. Salvation is not a work, salvation is not achieved, and salvation is not potential. Rather, salvation is a GIFT. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6) No conditions. GIFT, GIFT, GIFT is Christ saving you by His mercy. Christ’s redeeming work is received by faith. Trusting that what Jesus has done He has done for you.

We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law. (Galatians 2)

Rejoice, Christian friends, in hearing the Gospel. The Word goes to work setting you free. Jesus setting you free. Jesus is God's gift to you in His Word. Jesus is God's gift to you in your baptism. Jesus is God's gift to you in Absolution. Jesus is God's gift to you in the Lord's Supper. The gift is not deserved or earned. Rather received and believed.

Men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. (Augsburg Confession IV Justification)

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8) True freedom is lived in Christ. Living in faith toward God and love to your neighbor. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Lance D. Berndt is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church ( in Omaha, NE.