This is not my first exploration of Martin Luther’s wife. For the historical version, click here.
My father John and my stepmother Ann decided when I was a child which college I would attend: Eternal Peace Bible College. It was a partner with Liberty Christian Church, the congregation we’d long called home, where my father was a deacon. As a child, I trusted what Dad said was true, and what Pastor Howard said, well, that was scripture.
They always taught that salvation was a free gift – that faith was valid and works were not. They’d throw bible verses at me and I always took it for granted that they were right. And in a way, they were. In another way, though, they were shortsighted and selfish.
We had a little group of friends in high school – me, my best friend Libby, and another pair of best friends, Ava and Maggie. All three of them attended Liberty with their families. The four of us did most everything together, and of course, that included college.
That’s where we were when my aunt Lena (my long-dead mother’s sister) forwarded us an email.
To the members of Liberty Christian Church and to any follower of Christ who hears:
My name is Martin James, and I am above all a follower of Christ. At the risk of mimicking an apostle to the point of absurdity, the first thing I want you to know is that I pray for you. I pray that your eyes will be opened and your hearts discerning, because I beseech you to test my words against Christ’s.
Romans 10:9 reads:
If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Only one thing saves us: professed faith in Christ.
Ephesians 2:8-9 reads:
… it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
The faith we profess is not our own merit, of which we might boast. It is a gift from God.
1 Corinthians 15:2 reads:
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain.
The gospel of our faith saves us – but it has not saved us if we have not held firmly to the Word. We can believe in vain, as the demons do.
Titus 2:11-12 reads:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
If a man has received God’s grace, he is saved. If a man has received God’s grace, he is taught to say ‘No’ to ungodliness.
Jude 4 reads:
For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign and Lord.
As believers, we face the challenge of discerning. Have men slipped in among us who are godless? Do men (or women) in our lives tempt us to exchange God’s free gift into a license for immorality?
Are you truly saved?
Several members of Liberty Christian Church, myself included, have committed to study the Word together with any believers who wish to discuss this. We will do so every Sunday night at 6 p.m. at my house. Directions included. We will continue this weekly study until people stop coming.
Peace in Christ,
“Those are some pretty serious accusations,” said Libby.
“But do you see any errors?” I asked. All three girls leaned over the letter and scanned over it for a few minutes, trying to find a point they didn’t agree with.
“Okay, so we all agree on that much,” Maggie said. “What do we do with this information?”
There was a brief silence.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Ava asked. “We’re going to a bible study.”