John 8:31-32 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

These days, everyone wants to be free, unfortunately for many – there are those who offer something they call freedom, without the truth – and it is plausible, because these days, what passes for the truth is only more bad news, and many have already heard enough. Most of you will have heard that there was another plane crash, … So, many are willing to say, I don’t want to know the truth, I just want to be happy.

Sometimes the truth can be rather unpleasant – telling us things we’d rather not hear – we know our faults, we try to cover them up – perhaps that is why clothing and makeup are such a growth industry. Even in religion, many already know all about their sin – they know they have got to find away to make it right with God. They also might say – I don’t want to hear about my sin, I want to hear about something that makes things better.

And this is what the reformation was all about – it was about knowing the truth – the truth that really does set you free. This truth is what distinguishes the Christian religion from all other religions in the world – for other religions teach salvation by works – but the Christian faith teaches salvation by grace through faith, for Christ’s sake. And the center of this salvation, the thing that makes the real difference, is the forgiveness of sins.

This is not as new as it sounds – it didn’t come only in the new testament – the prophet Jeremiah takes about a new covenant where all people will know God – and what will they know about God – not how he hates sin and punishes sinners, that was already known, even our conscience could tell us that. But what is new is forgiveness – listen to the words: Jeremiah 31:34
And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

Luther had tried to fear God, he had tried to keep the commandments, but he couldn’t find enough to do to earn forgiveness or to pay the debt his sins incurred. He worked hard at trying to be holy and serving God, but he could find no peace, only more fear and doubt – could he ever do enough to be certain that God could forgive him? And searching the scripture he found something he had not heard, he came to know the truth – that God has had mercy on us, and sent his son to die for us – and that we are saved, not by our works, but by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. Grace is a gift. Faith is a gift. Jesus is a gift. Salvation and forgiveness are therefore also gifts. This gift is not because we deserve it, but because of mercy – that is – God gives us what we need, even though we don’t deserve it – God gives to us because he loves us.

This was such good news, Luther had to tell it to everyone. And when he found that the church was an obstacle to the good news of God in Jesus Christ, he set about to correct these errors, and this began when he posted the 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg Germany. It was an invitation to debate – he was confident that the word of God would show people the truth, and the errors would then be corrected. This is why we celebrate this reformation day – because we know the truth, and we know it can set us free – for Jesus has forgiven us all our sins – we are a new creation – we are indeed the very children of God, by grace, through faith, in Christ.