The Hammer Heard ‘Round the World

“…as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'”

Romans 1:17b

Every year around this time people in the church resume a long-standing debate which centers on the following question: Should Christians celebrate this day or not? I, for one, think the answer is obvious. Of course we should celebrate it! Christians have more reason to celebrate this day than any other group of people on earth. The only problem is that far too few of us know the reason why.

Today is Reformation Day, and if we had ever experienced how dark life was in the church before this significant event took place, we’d never allow October 31st to slip by without praising God for His mercy. Nearly 500 years ago on this date, God used a monk named Martin Luther to change the course of history…   

At the time, few would have suspected that the sound of a hammer striking the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, would soon be heard around the world and lead ultimately to the greatest transformation of Western society since the apostles first preached the Gospel throughout the Roman empire. Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to the church door on October 31, 1517, provoked a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation…

Martin Luther…became the center of a great controversy after his theses were copied and distributed throughout Europe. Initially protesting the pope’s attempt to sell salvation, Luther’s study of Scripture soon led him to oppose the church of Rome on issues including the primacy of the Bible over church tradition and the means by which we are found righteous in the sight of God.

This last issue is probably Luther’s most significant contribution to Christian theology. Though preached clearly in the New Testament and found in the writings of many of the church fathers, the medieval bishops and priests had largely forgotten the truth that our own good works can by no means merit God’s favor. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, and good works result from our faith, they are not added to it as the grounds for our right standing in the Lord’s eyes (Eph. 2:8–10).

[Taken from “What Is Reformation Day All About?” by Robert Rothwell]

Learn more about the history of Reformation Day and Martin Luther’s courageous stand against the church of Rome in the following dramatic reading by award-winning actor Max McLean… 

Related Post: Happy Reformation Day!

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Becoming Who We Are

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

Today is the last day of class in my third summer session at the Master’s College. As always, the teaching has been wonderful and the days have gone by far too quickly! The Lord has blessed my soul in numerous ways through the natural beauty of His creation in Southern California and through the supernatural beauty of His Word and godly fellowship. Each morning, I thank God for the privilege of being able to begin a day of class by praying together with my professors and fellow classmates. Such an experience is becoming increasingly rare in our culture, and I never want to take it for granted!

During this week’s classes, we’ve studied a number of amazing doctrines from Scripture, including the doctrine of progressive sanctification. My professor Dr. Ernie Baker shared this quote by Martin Luther which captures well the encouraging truth that although we have not reached Christlikeness, we are heading toward our destination…

This life therefore, is not righteousness but growth in righteousness, not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise.  We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished but it is going on; this is not the end but it is the road.  All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.

Photo: dlockeretz

Happy Reformation Day!

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith:
as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

Romans 1:17

Happy Reformation Day! What’s Reformation Day, you ask? It’s the holiday marking this critical event in church history…

It was good to live in a nice, quiet little town like Wittenberg in the German province of Saxony…on the Wednesday before All Saints Day, October 31, 1517. It was good. It was quiet. It was peaceful. There was hardly any trouble of any kind…

But the thin emaciated, 33 year-old skeletal monk…the one who had a large piece of paper rolled up in his hand and who was weaving his waythrough the crowded streets up to the castle and to the large wooden door of the church alongside was about to change all that. He was about to fasten the piece of paper in his hand to the front door of the castle church. That was all he intended to do. He wanted to fasten a piece of paper to the church door and start a discussion among scholars about a few things that troubled him…a few things that troubled him about indulgences and the practice of selling indulgences and what allowing them to be sold meant in relation to the sacrament of penance and to the gospel. But what he was actually about to do was to start a revolution that would alter, forever, the course of human history. He was about to prick the most vulnerable spot on the richest and most powerful kingdom on earth. He was about to prick the Achilles’ heel of the Roman Catholic with the point of his pen.

His name was Martin Luther. It was October 31, 1517 and he was about to start the Protestant Reformation.

[Pastor Tom Browning]

You can learn more about the incredible life of Martin Luther in plenty of books or in the movie entitled Luther, which I give two thumbs up. 

The Good News of Good Friday

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

It seems as though Resurrection Sunday sneaks up on me each year. Before I realize it, the day has arrived, and I often feel that I’ve done little to prepare my heart to celebrate its meaning as I should. I want this year to be different.

One week from today will be Good Friday–the day marking Christ’s crucifixion. Have you ever wondered why we call it good? None of those who loved Jesus and were present at His crucifixion would have called that day good. It was undoubtedly the most horrific 24 hours they had ever experienced. Certainly, you could never describe what Jesus experienced that day as being good. As He was mocked, tortured, crucified, and abandoned by His Father, Jesus endured the most indescribably agonizing moments of His life. Yet still, we call it Good Friday. Why?   

Because what was the worst day of our Savior’s life is also one of the best days in human history. It was on Good Friday that Christ made the good news possible. When I counsel young women at the pregnancy care center, I love telling them about the good news of Good Friday. I can’t help but to get excited as I share with them the truths of the great exchange, how at the cross, Christ took all of our sins upon Himself and offered us all of His righteousness.

In His study notes on 2 Corinthians 5:21, John MacArthur describes the great exchange as “the heart of the gospel:” 

God the Father…treated Christ as if He were a sinner though He was not, and had Him die as a substitute to pay the penalty for the sins of those who believe in Him. On the cross, He did not become a sinner…, but remained as holy as ever. He was treated as if He were guilty of all the sins ever committed by all who would ever believe, though He committed none. The wrath of God was exhausted on Him and the just requirement of God’s law met for those for whom He died.

The righteousness that is credited to the believer’s account is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. As Christ was not a sinner, but was treated as if He were, so believers who have not yet been made righteous (until glorification) are treated as if they were righteous. He bore their sins so that they could bear His righteousness. God treated Him as if He committed believers’ sins, and treats believers as if they did only the righteous deeds of the sinless Son of God.

This is good news, unbelievably good news! Martin Luther once said, “Learn to know Christ and Him crucified. Learn to sing to Him and say ‘Lord Jesus, You are my righteousness, I am Your sin. You took on You what was mine; yet set on me what was Yours. You became what You were not, that I might become what I was not.'” As we prepare to celebrate Resurrection Sunday, let’s allow these powerful truths of the gospel to cause our hearts to sing.

[Warning: The following video just might bring out the charismatic in you. I know it does me.] 

Amazing love! How can it be?

Video: Gary Hornstien
Photo: Billy Alexander