On April 18, 1521, Martin Luther was on trial and said “Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me”. At the risk of his life, he was standing for the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9, that we are saved by God’s grace alone and not by our good works.
What would Luther say if he could see today's Protestant churches? I believe he would cry out against “grace abuse.” Grace abuse says “Because we are saved by grace alone, we can live like the devil.” Luther would say that nothing could be further from the truth. Luther would agree with the Apostle Paul who wrote in Romans chapter 6 “Shall we continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
I remember years ago when I discovered that the Lutheran hospital in Portland, Ore., was performing abortions. I wrote the Lutheran bishop in Oregon saying “How can we as a Christian hospital do such a thing?” The bishop responded “We in the Lutheran Church believe in the grace of God.” There it is, grace abuse … we are saved by grace, therefore we are free to kill unborn babies.
And it's gotten worse. The head bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently went to the White House with other Protestant leaders to take a stand in favor of abortion rights. One ELCA Lutheran pastor even wrote this: “I love abortion, because abortion is healthcare … Any reason someone needs or wants an abortion is a good reason. You don't have to justify it to me or anyone. Free abortion. Accessible to all. On demand. Without apology. Now.” And an ELCA homosexual Lutheran pastor in St. Paul, Minn., preached a sermon saying that we follow Jesus when we work for abortion rights.
Wow, how Luther would weep. Of course, not all Lutherans believe in abortion. In fact, the only Lutheran denomination in the United States that endorses abortion rights and homosexuality is the large, liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The other branches of Lutheranism are pro-life. But the same pro-abortion grace abuse sadly exists in the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Episcopal Church in America. Even the Mennonites recently voted to perform gay marriages. Another example of grace abuse.
If Luther lived today, I believe he would call upon the Church to be the Church and follow Christ and not the culture. He would say that, yes, hallelujah, we are saved by the grace of God alone. But he would also say that when we are saved by grace, the Holy Spirit moves us toward obedience, not disobedience. We won’t be perfect in this life (we talk “direction” not “perfection”) but the movement of our life will be toward obeying the Lord.
Tom Brock graduated from Bethel College in St. Paul Minnesota with a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. He received a Masters of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was ordained a Lutheran pastor in 1979 and served Hope Lutheran Church in Minneapolis for 29 years. He served on the board of reform groups attempting to bring Biblical renewal to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America before he left that denomination over their position on issues such as abortion, homosexuality and universalism. For more information: The Pastor's Study