Today is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. On this day, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. He did not intend to start a reformation, but God used Luther’s writing to start a fire that would spread over all of Europe.
After 500 years I believe it is helpful and wise to ask where we go from here. Is the Reformation only a past event that we look back on as reformed Christians with nostalgia? Or, should we be continuing the reformation today?
One key phrase that reformed people have used may help us. The phrase is “Reformed and always reforming.” At its best, the phrase reminds us that being reformed means always seeking to be faithful to the Word of God in our theology and practice. At its worse, it has been used by some to argue for radical changes in our theology and practice, apart from the foundation of Scripture.
One of the joys of living in California – besides near perfect weather year round – is its sheer beauty. Within just a few hours drive of my home I can see the glory of the seacoast, the beauty of the mountains, and the majesty of great redwood groves.
Giant Sequoias and Redwoods are some of the largest trees in the world. Some are so large that a car can be driven through their trunk. They are also some of the oldest. A giant sequoia tree can live to be over 2,000 years old. They are a towering and majestic revelation of the glory and power of God who created them. It is breathtaking to stand at the base of one of these giants and strain your neck to look up.
But there is a condition that can bring down such a towering giant. It’s called “Rotten Heart.” Heart rot in a tree is caused by a fungus that enters the tree from an opening in the bark and begins to eat away at the heart of the tree.
It is clear in Scripture that God’s glory is paramount. Everything that the Lord does is with the goal of revealing the greatness of His glory. All that He does in history is a revelation of who He is.
At Covenant we are in the midst of reading through the Bible in chronological order. Today we start Ezekiel 20. There is one phrase that has come up twenty two times in the first twenty chapters of the book. It will come up many more times in the remaining chapters. The phrase is “shall know that I am the LORD.”
Ezekiel was a priest and was one of the first exiles deported in the Babylonian captivity. His prophetic ministry started in 593 BC – seven years before the fall of Jerusalm. His ministry from Babylon was to prophesy about the fall of Jerualem and then interpret the meaning of God’s work.
Be careful that your view of salvation is not too narrow. When God speaks of salvation, He does so in diverse language that reveals the richness of His grace.
This past Sunday at Covenant, I preached on 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. In that text the apostle Paul refers to the old lifestyle of the mainly Gentile congregation. He then goes on to remind them of the work God had done in their lives – “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified.”
Some think that Paul is giving an edited Ordo Solutis (Order of Salvation). But that is not his point. Rather, Paul is looking at three different perspectives on their salvation. In their salvation, the triune God has cleansed them from their sins, set them apart for Himself, and declared them to be righteous. Each perspective speaks of a different aspect of salvation.
The Casting Crowns’ song, Praise You in the Storm, begins –
“I was sure by now that you would have reached down and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day. But once again, I say ‘Amen,’ and it’s still raining.”
In the middle of trials and disappointments it often seems like the Lord is slow. That must have been the thinking of those who were the first of the exiles taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. They had been told by false prophets that their exile would be short. Soon they would be going back home.
Jeremiah the prophet was still in Jerusalem and the Lord directed him to write the exiles a letter. This letter is found in Jeremiah 29. Many today have taken hold of Jeremiah 29:11 as a great promise from God. That verse is featured on many plaques in Christian’s homes and pics on Facebook. It was a great promise of God for those in exile. But to miss the context is to misapply the point of the promise.
I never wanted a cat. As a boy I never had a cat or desired one. I never imagined that as an an adult I would own a cat. But, I married a cat lover. Donna never imagined not having a cat. After many catless years, I gave her a cat for Christmas. I still don’t have great affection for cats, but I love my wife very much. We named our cat Sophie.
We have had Sophie now for almost two years. I admit that over this period of time I am more confused than ever by cat lovers. I get having a dog. Dogs are lovable, they greet you with joy at the door when you come home, they forgive quickly when you step on their paws, and desire to live close to you every day.
Courtesy of Flickr
Over the last couple of months those committed to a biblical worldview have been greatly distressed. First, there was the Supreme Court decision making same sex marriage legal in all states. Then, more recently, were several videotapes of representatives of Planned Parenthood discussing the harvesting and sale of fetal organs. Both of these events raised questions of where our country is headed and how Christians ought to respond. Below are some biblical points to help us as we seek to live faithfully in a post-Christian culture.
We should not be surprised when unbelievers act like unbelievers. According to the Scriptures, unbelievers are living in rebellion against God and His Word. They have rejected the Lord and His
Word as their standard. Romans 1 teaches us that God’s response to this has been to give unbelievers over to the consequences of their rebellion. Therefore, we should not be shocked and surprised when unbelievers think and act like unbelievers. We should be pleasantly surprised and thankful that unbelievers do not more consistently live out their rebellion.