October 31, 2017
Revelation 2:10 - (Jesus said) "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."
A good many years ago, I was in Alaska for a Reformation Day rally.
Totally by accident, a tour which was being hosted by my brilliant Lutheran Hour predecessor and octogenarian, Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, happened to be in Anchorage at the same time. Hearing that Ossie was going to be making a presentation in the afternoon, Pam and I decided to attend.
Before Ossie took center stage, another fellow was there talking about the Reformation.
During the course of the man's rather dry remarks, I thought Ossie had fallen asleep. I was wrong. When the speaker asked, "Does anyone know what Luther's last words were?" without opening his eyes, Ossie said, "Yah." Ignoring Dr. Hoffmann, the speaker asked again, "Does anyone know what Luther's last words were?" A second time, Ossie responded, "Yah."
Appearing somewhat put out by what he considered to be an interruption, the speaker turned to Ossie and asked, "Okay, Dr. Hoffmann, just what were Luther's last words?"
For the first time Ossie opened his eyes and said, "Luther's last word was "Ja"--"Yes."
I looked it up and found Dr. Hoffmann was right. Martin Luther, the great reformer, was born in the small German town of Eisleben. Sixty-three years later, Luther returned to that town to preach. While he was there he was struck down by an illness. In great pain he called out, "O God, how I suffer!" Then he lapsed into semi-consciousness. While Luther was in that condition, a friend came to him and whispered, "Reverend Father, do you still hold to Christ and the doctrine you have preached?"
With great effort, Luther responded, "Yes!" After that, Luther went home to be with God.
In the course of his life, Luther had written more than 60,000 pages. In those pages, he had, once again, placed the Bible into the hands of the people; he had reemphasized the scriptural truth that we are saved by God's grace rather than by our actions, and he had let the world know that our just God had done everything necessary so lost souls could be saved through the sacrifice of His Son.
Today, much of Christianity celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation which began the day Luther nailed his 95 debating points on the church door in Wittenberg. We give thanks to the Lord for using the writings of a humble German friar to bless us.
But as we do, we also must say that of all of his words in all the books, pamphlets, sermons, and letters Luther said and wrote, no word was more important than his last, simple, "Yah."
With that single word, Luther declined to recant that which he had so powerfully preached and proclaimed. With that word, Luther showed that when everything else is gone and there are no more tomorrows, we are saved by God-given faith in the crucified and risen Redeemer.
Is this something you also believe? I pray that you, like Luther, can say, "Yah!"
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we give thanks for the heroes of faith whom You have raised up. We rejoice that You took sinners and used them to accomplish Your purposes. Today I ask that the Holy Spirit touch lost hearts and let them join with Luther in his last confession of faith: "Yah. I am saved by faith alone, as shown in Scripture alone, by God's grace alone." In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries