Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Reformation Day!

Although not a legal holiday here, as it is in Slovenia, and though not as widely celebrated by Baptists as by Lutherans, Presbyterians, and others, today is Reformation Day - a day that should be fondly remembered by all who believe in Salvation by Grace, through Faith in Jesus Christ.

As a German Monk and ordained Roman Catholic Priest, Martin Luther had become disenchanted with many of the teachings and customs of the Church. The most important issue for Luther was the doctrine of Justification – God's act of declaring a sinner righteous – by faith alone through God's grace. He began to teach that salvation is a gift of God's grace, attainable only through faith in Jesus.  He was particularly put off by the sale of "indulgences" (The teaching that justification could be obtained by donating money to the church).  He was also put off by the wealth of the Pope and by the great wealth of the Church and the building of the opulent St. Peter's Basilica on the backs of its poor members.  When a papal envoy came to Germany selling indulgences in 1516 it pushed Luther over the edge.

It was on October 31, 1517 (496 years ago today) that he sent a letter to his bishop, protesting, not only the sale of indulgences, but many other grievances with false doctrine and actions of the Pope.  The letter contained what has come to be known as the "Ninety - Five Theses", a document that provided the fuel for the Protestant Reformation.

Luther wrote and traveled extensively lecturing on the Psalms, Romans, Galatians and other books of the Bible that plainly taught Justification by Grace through faith in Christ alone.  He was eventually excommunicated by the Catholic Church.  Perhaps one of Luther's most important contributions was his translation of the Bible from Latin into the language of the common man.  Luther also wrote many hymns, including "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God".

Luther, and the other reformers left us the rich legacy of the "Five Solas", which articulated five fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice.

  • Sola Scriptura - "By Scripture Alone"
  • Sola Fide - "By Faith Alone"
  • Sola Gratia - "By Grace Alone"
  • Sola Christus - "Through Christ Alone"
  • Sola Deo Gloria - "Glory to God Alone"
If you, like many of us, hold to these powerful doctrines of Grace, may I wish you a Happy Reformation Day!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

True Commitment

If there is one thing the church needs in America today it is COMMITMENT to Christ.  Not Lip service.  Not “Cheap Easy Believism”.  Not fussing over preferred worship styles. Not a “my way or the highway” or a “let somebody else do it” attitude.   A deep abiding commitment to Follow Christ, no matter what the cost.  Believers here have been spoiled by and have become accustomed to our freedoms and have developed an entitlement mentality that we are free to worship under our Constitution.  However, these freedoms are quickly slipping away from us.  This is contrary to everything Jesus taught about those who would follow Him.  We should take the example of the commitment to Christ seen in believers in areas of the earth where severe persecution is a reality. 
The following is alleged to be a letter found in the pocket of a Kenyan Believer after his murder for following Christ.  I don't know if those circumstances are true or not, as I have read this somewhere before.  But whether from a martyered believer or not, it is a great picture of true discipleship!  Take a moment to read this and see what real commitment to Christ looks like.

How do we measure up to this?  May we be challenged and convicted by the Holy Spirit as we digest these words.

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed, the die has been cast, I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made—I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ—I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure---I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is tough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear.  I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ.

I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till everyone knows, work till He stops me and when He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear.”