Walker, MN

REFORMATION SUNDAY “The Word of The Lord Endures Forever”
October 31, 2021 Jeremiah 36:23
Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,

The Reformation; the Word of the Lord; the enemies of God’s Word; and paper-shredders. Let’s relate these 4 things.
Thing 1: The Reformation. Rev.Dr.Martin Luther is the face & voice of the Protestant Reformation, which began on Oct.31 1517. But our Reformation celebration is not about that man; altho God did use him in a mighty way to renew the Church with the pure Gospel of Christ. Back then, the church had forgotten that it is Christ alone who sets us free from sin = so that we will be ‘free indeed.’ Every Bible believing Christian, especially those who are true Lutherans, should know the basic story & history & blessing of Martin Luther. It’s one of many encouraging parts of the NT history of God’s Church.
Thing 2: The Word of the Lord. The 4-letter symbol “VDMA” stands for 4 Latin words ‘Verbum Dei Manet in Aeternum.’ It means: ‘The Word of the Lord endures forever,’ and is considered the motto of the Reformation. That Word of the Lord announces your forgiveness and hope in Christ Jesus.
Thing 3: The enemies of God’s Word are always trying to shred the saving Gospel in order to tear apart our lives from the grace & mercy of God for condemned sinners. The attacks began -already- back at the start, in the Garden of Eden. Enemies were at work in the days of Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, and in Luther’s day. The enemies of God’s Word are active in our day.
Thing 4: Paper-shredders. The paper shredder idea was patented in 1909; but it was Adolf Ehinger in 1935 who got the first paper shredder up & running; it was fashioned after a hand-crank pasta-maker. It was not until the mid-1980s that a personal paper shredder came into use; before that, they were just used by businesses & the government. Altho, who knew that the prophet Jeremiah ran into problems with a paper-shredder?
It was in the 4th year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, that God told Jeremiah to take a scroll and write the Word of the Lord to the people of Judah, so that they would repent, /turn from their evil ways, /receive the Lord’s forgiveness, /& be spared destruction. That scroll was written & read to the people.
But later, when it came before the king to be read, this is what happened, chpt.36.v.23: ‘As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife, and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed…’
Jehoiakim is a faithless & wicked king. Our paper shredders destroy sensitive documents with personal or confidential information. But Jehoiakim shredded God’s Word. No one in their right mind, or righteous mind, would cut up & destroy God’s Word. We can appreciate that the king didn’t like the harsh words of God against him; but the righteous mind must accept the bad with the good from the mouth of the Lord. If we confess that the Lord is the One Holy God, then we must also listen to Him when He rebukes & corrects our sinful mind & disobedient ways. How did king Jehoiakim imagine that he could lead God’s people with his own ideas, fight against God, and win? Likewise, how do we think we can ignore God’s Word and have true life?
God’s Word in Jeremiah does rebuke sin; it’s what God calls ‘the law.’ But God also gave Jeremiah words of ‘the gospel’, like these 5 examples: (1) “I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called, the Lord is our righteousness.” (23:5–6). (2) “I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to give you peace and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (29:11). (3) (the Lord says) “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (31:3). (4) “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” (31:13). (5) “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (31:34). These are some of the gospel words of the Lord thru Jeremiah.

What got into Jehoiakim that would cause him to act like a paper shredder for God’s holy Word? We know from Scripture that his own sinful nature would be enough to do that. We also know from Scripture that our old nature has some very powerful help from the chief Paper Shredder himself.
We don’t usually call him by that name. The Bible has other names for him, such as: Liar, & father of lies; Deceiver or Tempter; Devil or accuser; Satan or adversary. Satan doesn’t want us to have delight or strength in God’s Word; he doesn’t want us to hope or have life in God’s Word; he doesn’t want us to hear of mercy & forgiveness in God’s Word. So Satan shreds God’s Word every chance he gets.

The Devil was laughing himself silly in the days of king Jehoiakim; but he was not winning.
The Chief Paper Shredder is still active in our day.
A recent Barna survey found these results: more than half of Christians surveyed (58%) didn’t know who preached the Sermon on the Mount; & more than half (52%) didn’t know that the Book of Jonah is in the Bible. 70% wrongly thought that this quote was in the Bible ~ “God helps those who help themselves”. 15% thought that the 4 Gospels are: Matthew, Mark, Luther, and John. Why does Satan shred God’s Word? So he can shred our lives! God’s Word says: ‘this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ Satan shreds that when he tells us, ‘This day is hopeless; go back to bed.’ God’s Word says, ‘See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.’ Satan says, ‘You’re a loser; how could anyone love you?” God’s Word says, ‘I have called you by name; you are mine.’ Satan shreds that & says, ‘You failed again? You’re no real Christian. God’s given up on you.’ Satan shreds God’s Word in order to shred our lives.

You & I are very fortunate that we live in this time & place; God’s Word is complete & accessible for us; and we have a great freedom to read it, learn it, & obey it. Martin Luther was not so fortunate in his day as he faced the enemies of God’s Word. ‘The old evil foe Now means deadly woe; Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight; On earth is not his equal.’ Luther learned the Devil’s gameplan & knew he couldn’t defeat the Devil’s lies. That’s why he searched & embraced God’s Word of truth = especially in Romans where it says things like: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, AND are justified freely by his grace thru the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (3:23–24). “(Christ) was delivered over to death for our sins and raised again for our justification” (4:25). “Therefore, since we have been justified thru faith, we have peace with God thru our Lord Jesus Christ.” (5:1).

In his day, the chief enemy of God’s Word had the help of another paper shredder: the medieval Roman Catholic Church. In 1517, an archbishop named Albert of Brandenburg set out to silence Luther. Why? Because Albert was selling indulgences to pay off his own debt to the pope. ‘Indulgences’ were pieces of paper purchased by people and signed by the church; these notes promised to lessen people’s time in purgatory = a place to suffer for your sins before you get to go to heaven.
Purgatory is non-Biblical and a lie; & Luther’s 95-Theses proved by Scripture that indulgences were bogus. When people began believing Scripture & Luther instead of the church’s teaching, archbishop Albert lost a lot of money. So, God’s Word had to be shredded.
2 years later, in July 1519, a debate over these things was held in Leipzig, Germany. John Eck argued for Rome’s position: that people are saved, in large part, by what they do. Luther refused to ignore the Scripture verses that teach that salvation is by grace alone, thru faith alone, by Christ’s work alone. After the debate, Pope Leo X excommunicated the reformer. The official document began with these words from Ps 80, “Arise, O Lord, a wild boar has invaded your vineyard.” Who was the threat invading the church’s vineyard? A lowly monk with his Bible verses! So the church wanted to shred them both.
Finally, it was all to be settled at an official assembly in Worms, Germany, with the Emperor present. On April 17, 1521, the Roman Catholic Church demanded that Luther recant == that is, take back everything he said & taught & wrote. Knowing this was probably his finale & maybe his death sentence, Luther asked for an evening to put his answer together. Then, on April 18, the reformer announced, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant! Here I stand!”
Luther had received courage from 1Pet 1:25: “The word of the Lord endures forever.” VDMA: ‘Verbum Dei Manet in Aeternum.’ Rome’s response was a lot like king Jehoiakim’s response in 604 BC: ‘we don’t like that Word.’ Their attitude was: shred Luther & those with him; censor & silence God’s Word.

Luther’s iron spine & conviction came from that central & unchangeable truth from God’s Word: Jesus’ bloody cross is our righteousness & every sinner’s only hope. That is our courage as well.
Christ-crucified means every one of God’s gospel promises in Jeremiah is now yours. Such as: God has plans to give you hope and a future. In Christ God loves you with an everlasting love. By Jesus’ cross, God forgives our iniquity and remembers our sin no more. The cross & empty tomb of the Son of God has changed our mourning into joy and our sorrow into gladness; because in Christ we are living forever.

God turned Satan’s own tricks against him to work out our atonement. God planned that the Roman governor -Pontius Pilate- would give Jesus over to professional shredders so that our penalty would be paid. They ripped up skin from the Savior’s back, & prepared Him for the industrial-grade shredder of the day. Rome called it: Mors turpissima crucis = ‘the utterly vile death on a cross.’
Jesus was shredded for us: crucified, dead, & buried = the end! Well, normally – yes; but not this time. Because ~ ‘Verbum Dei Manet in Aeternum!’

What did God do when Jehoiakim destroyed that scroll in Jeremiah 36? Verse 32 says, “
Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch . . . who wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had cut up and burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them.” That’s interesting; more words were added. It was like Jeremiah was saying, ‘destroy my sermon, and I’ll repeat; and even add to it.’ God resurrected Jeremiah’s scroll and made it better.

Another destroyed ‘scroll’ was resurrected on Easter Sunday, and made even better. Christ, the Word made flesh, rose again over death. Those eyewitnesses were amazed. Mary cried out, “Rabboni!” The Emmaus disciples exclaimed, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road?” Then Thomas confessed, “My Lord and my God!”

God’s Holy Word is the living voice of the Gospel; alive with the life of Jesus, and by the breath of the Holy Spirit. The Law of God IS hard to hear because it shows that we are sinners and condemned. But the Gospel shows us our Savior, who has worked out our forgiveness; He has brought to us the mercy of God. God’s message to us is this: In Christ alone is our hope & peace. Satan can lie all he wants; the Lord Himself has spoken to us the truth.

What Martin Luther said was the same as what all the prophets & apostles had said in their days: “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant. Here I stand!”
Luther, and those with him, sewed the letters VDMA on their coat sleeves. WE are the blessed heirs of this Reformation motto. And in our day, the Holy Christian Church has a bold message to all who would be Paper Shredders: Verbum Dei Manet in Aeternum. “The word of the Lord endures forever. This is most certainly true. Here we stand!”