Sunday, November 10, 2013

Happy Birthdays

Question: What do the U.S. Marines and Martin Luther have in common?  Answer: For one thing, they share the same birthday - November 10.  In the case of the Marines the year was 1775.  In Luther's case, 1483.

For another thing, the Marine Corps has a "warrior ethos" and is the "first to fight" to protect our freedom.  Luther was a spiritual warrior who fought to defend the greatest of all freedoms: the freedom of the Gospel, the Gospel of Christ and the forgiveness of sins.

And for a third thing, each may be summed up in two words of Latin.  For the Marines the two words are semper fidelis.  It means "always faithful."  General Amos wrote in this year's birthday message to his Marines, "Throughout history, Marines have faced tough times and there will be tough times ahead, but there is no challenge we cannot overcome if we remain honorable and always faithful to our Nation, our Constitution and each other.  He then signed the letter under the words "Semper Fidelis."

And for Luther the two words are sola fide.  It means "by faith alone."  It has been called Luther's refrain.  It is shorthand for, among other verses, Galatians 2:16: "...a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ."  In other words, you are counted righteous before God not because of the things you have done, or tried to do, but because of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ!  The following hymn lines put it perfectly:

Salvation unto us has come by God's free grace and favor;
Good works cannot avert our doom, they help and save us never.
Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone, who did for all the world atone;
He is our one Redeemer.

Happy birthday, dear Marines, and dear Martin!  Where would we be without you?