How and What We Tell Others (Part Three)

2 Corinthians 4:5-6

For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ (CSB).

The Reformers proclaimed the message of the Scriptures, the good news about salvation in Christ. We must also tell people this good news. The glory of the gospel is known in Jesus Christ as Lord (4:5-6).

The message preached transforms the way a person looks at life. Too many assume that setting forth a moral code is the way to change people. “Make a law and enforce it,” they sternly say. Now if that were true, we would not have any of the destruction caused by drug and alcohol abuse in this country. Nor would there be any sexual or domestic abuse. No my friend, unless you preach the Lord Jesus Christ, you are left with an empty, powerless moralism.

We must seek an acknowledgement that Jesus Christ is Lord. Here is the essence of Christian belief. If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved ( Romans 10:9-10 NIV ; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:6-11). The crucified Christ has been exalted through his resurrection as Lord over all. God’s rule and salvation come through him. He is Lord; that is, Yahweh, and everyone is under his authority.

The message preached is made effective by God. Remember God’s action in the old creation. He said, “Light will shine” (Gen 1:3-4). God commanded and light suddenly appeared throughout the universe he created. And he made the light before he made the sun and the other stars. This is awesome power; it is might that is able to change the basic circumstances of all that is!

Now connect that with God’s action in the new creation. The same all-powerful, living God is responsible for spiritual light (cf. Acts 26:18; Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 1:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5; 1 Peter 2:9). When God turns us to him, he floods our darkened hearts with his light. Then we can see! What do we see? We see his glory in the face of Jesus Christ! Our conversion is Christ-focused.

Has this happened to you? Do you understand that God is known through the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ? Or are you still trying to light little candles for yourself by human philosophy, sociology, psychology, religion or spirituality? Your only hope is found outside of your resources and in the power of the true and living God. I have good news for you today. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. If you know that Jesus Christ is Lord, go and tell others.

Grace and peace, David

Reformation Day 2016

dscn0695Romans 11:36

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (ESV)

Today is the 499th anniversary of one of the greatest awakenings or revivals in the history of the church. It is called the “Reformation”, because the people who came under its influence wanted to reform the church to her earliest life, faith, and practices. Like any human event, the Reformation is very complex. We can and should rejoice in the multitudes of men and women who came to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ during those years. Without a doubt, the Reformation changed western civilization, and we still live as heirs to its benefits, spiritual and otherwise.

Yet, while we rejoice, we readily acknowledge that the Reformation was far from perfect. There are many books being published in preparation for the 500th anniversary. The date of the Reformation (1517-1650) is remembered as starting on October 31, 1517, because on that date, a preacher named Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. His purpose was not to start a religious revolution or a new church. He wanted other teachers in the church to discuss matters of faith and practice that had affected people in his local church. For this reason, he wrote them in Latin, the religious language of the day. However, others translated them into German and published them. God the Holy Spirit used them to get people thinking about what the Bible actually said about salvation, and the revival began. People read them, thought about them, searched the Scriptures, listened to the Word preached and were saved. This explains why books continue to be written about Luther and the start of the Reformation. It is wise to learn about this period.

However, others books should also be written, since the Reformation impacted all Europe and North America. People were brought to faith in Christ, and many great ideas of true Christianity were proclaimed with great vigor. At the same time, the Reformation did not fulfill its promise, because the Reformation was incomplete. Part of the reason for this was human centered politics that ran counter to the God focus of the Reformation itself. Another reason was the slowness of people to think through and apply the ramifications of the truth. Old ideas die long and lingering deaths. Another reason was that any human is on the scene only a short length of time. One hundred thirty-three years passed from the start to the finish of the Reformation. And the children, grandchildren, of those saved in the beginnings had other issues to deal with as the principles of the Reformation worked out in their lives.

Perhaps another day, I will write more about the Reformation. But today, I want to start by mentioning the great ideas of Reformation theology. (Notice that I did not say “Reformed Theology”, which is related but different.) As men and women returned to the Scriptures in the revival, five key ideas were set forth in Latin. Since we do not speak in that theological tongue, I re-present them in English.

  • According to the Scriptures alone
  • By grace alone
  • Through faith alone
  • In Christ alone
  • To God alone be the glory forever, Amen

We need to recover these Biblical principles in our day, as the good news of Jesus Christ spread around the world. We desire that the truth of God’s grace in the Lord Jesus Christ become increasingly clear, not only in our doctrine, but also in our way of life. As we grasp and apply these concepts, God can produce true and lasting change in us and in the world.

Grace and peace, David