Friday, March 29, 2013
The Message Is Simple
Many of us who call ourselves evangelicals (heralds of good news) have devolved into group of loosely associated fraternal organizations. Much of our time is spent in arguing, bloviating, and pontificating in reaction to the powers of darkness that surround us. Some of us have exhibited more zeal in partisan politics than in what we have been called to do in proclaiming Christ - who alone can bring light powerful enough to dispel the darkness of sin.
We Baptists especially have done a better job in letting everyone know what we are "against" than what we are "for". Shame on us for that!
We are called upon to simply tell the story of Jesus. He alone is worthy of our faith and devotion. He alone is capable of bringing lost people into relationship with God the Father. He alone is the vehicle of Grace and forgiveness of sin. He alone is worthy of our love and obedience. He alone (through the power of His Holy Spirit) to empower us and produce His fruit in our lives (Galatians 5).
On this Good Friday, as we meditate on what was done for us on the cross of Calvary, may we be challenged, as His followers, to focus on what is true. May we get back to the basics of what matters most. May we boldly proclaim His Gospel. His story is capable of bringing convicting power on the lives of those who are living in the bondage of sin. That message alone is infinitely more powerful than any arguments, debates, and militancy we may be able to muster.
This is the day that we should get "back to basics" in what we know to be the truth.
The "Five Solas" are five Latin phrases that emerged during the time of the Protestant Reformation. They stand today, as they did five centuries ago, in simply proclaiming the redeeming message of salvation that the world needs to hear. The Latin word "Sola" simply means "alone" or "only". In the likely event that some of our readers may not be familiar with the Five Solas, let's take a quick abbreviated look at what they say to us today.
"Sola Scriptura" - (By Scripture Alone) The Bible is the only inspired and authoritative Word of God. It interprets itself, without need for addition or alteration. It is "God breathed" and has no errors in the original manuscripts. It is our only rule of faith and practice. It reveals to us the heart of God, His attributes, His message of redemption, and the plan of salvation.
"Sola Fide" (By Faith Alone) the teaching that we are justified (brought into right standing with God) through faith alone. Not by any works of righteousness that we have done or can do, yet being justified by faith, good works will naturally follow. Like Abraham of old, when we "believe God" it is counted unto us for righteousness.
"Sola Gratia" (by Grace Alone) The truth that salvation comes only through the unmerited favor of God. Ephesians 2:8-10 sums up both points of Sola Fide and Sola Gratia. We can never do enough good deeds to earn God's favor. The fact that salvation is even available to fallen man is Sola Gratia!
"Solus Christus" (Christ Alone) The important teaching that there is "only one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ the righteous". This teaching also uses the words "Solo Christo" or "by Christ alone" in explaining that there is no other way to salvation than through Jesus (John 14:6). Take a moment and listen to this beautiful song (one of my favorites) that explains it so beautifully. Click here to listen
"Soli Deo Gloria" (Glory to God Alone) Since salvation is only by the work and will of God, He alone is worthy of all praise, honor, and glory. None can ascribe glory to any man, or institution. He alone is worthy.
May we be challenged to think about what our message to the world really is. We cannot force those who are spiritually blind to adhere to a certain moral code. It is against their unregenerate nature.
May we focus on what is relevant, and not on foolish arguments. We will never win the world to Christ by arguing with lost people, belittling their behavior and exalting ourselves or our church. May we exalt the Savior! He will take care of the rest of the work. We can teach and disciple others AFTER He has done the atoning work in their lives. His Holy Spirit will come in and open their hearts to the truths of the Scriptures.