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Archive for October, 2011

The day was October 31st, 1517. The place was the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. An Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed up a document that contained 95 theses, or statements, outlining his grievances with the Roman Catholic church.

It was written in Latin – the language of the academy – so that theology students could begin a debate on each of the subjects brought up by Luther. Unknown to Luther, the 95 theses were translated into German and within two weeks were circulated throughout Europe. The Protestant Reformation had begun and it spread like wildfire!

The heart of the matter, in response to the abuses of false teachings of the Roman Catholic church, was the issue of authority. Who, or what, has the right to impose obligations upon people? Is it the church? Tradition? The Pope? Or is it the Scriptures – the Word of God? The Reformers were convinced that the only infallible rule for faith and practice is Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura). All other sources of authority were subservient to, and were to be judged by, the Bible and the Bible alone.

With Sola Scriptura as the foundation, certain basic truths and doctrines become clear – sinful man is justified by grace alone (Sola Gratia) through faith alone (Sola Fide) because of Christ alone (Solus Christus), with all of the glory going to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria). These five slogans became a shorthand way of referring to Reformation teaching and the plain teaching of the Bible.

Above all, the Reformation glorified God by restoring the glory of the gospel of His grace through Jesus Christ His Son. Happy Reformation Day!

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This morning, in honor of Reformation Day, I preached on the subject of Sola Scriptura which is the formal cause of the Protestant Reformation. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: The Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

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Thomas Watson offers these helps to us as we hear the Bible preached:

  1. When you come to God’s house to hear His Word, do not forget also to prepare your soul with prayer.
  2. Come with a holy appetite for the Word (1 Pet. 2:2). A good appetite promotes good digestion.
  3. Come with a tender, teachable heart (2 Chron. 13:7), asking, “Lord, what wilt you have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). It is foolish to expect a blessing if you come with a hardened, worldly-minded heart.
  4. Be attentive to the Word preached. In Luke 19:48, we are told that the people “were very attentive” to Christ. Literally translated, the text says, “they hung upon him, hearing.”
  5. “Receive with meekness the ingrafted word” (James 1:21). Meekness involves a submissive frame of heart – “a willingness to the counsels and reproofs of the world.”
  6. Mingle the preached Word with faith. “The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith” (Hebrews 4:2).
  7. Strive to retain and pray over what you have heard. Don’t the sermon run through your mind like water through a sieve (Hebrews 2:1).
  8. Practice what you have heard. “Live out” the sermons you hear. Hearing that does not reform your life will never save your soul. Doers of the Word are the best hearers. Of what value is a mind filled with knowledge when not matched with a fruitful life?
  9. Beg of God to accompany His Word with the effectual blessing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44). Without the Spirit, the medicine of the Word may be swallowed,  but it will not result in healing.
  10. Familiarize yourself with what you have heard. When you come home, speak to your loved ones about the sermon in an edifying manner: “My tongue shall speak of thy word” (Psalm 119:172). Remember each sermon as if it will be the last you ever hear, for that may well be the case.

(Quoted by Joel Beeke and Ray Lanning in Sola Scriptura! — pp. 254-256)

 

 

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Be Strong and Humble

“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10).

Here is a word for Christians. Knowing your strength lies wholly in God and not in yourself, remain humble – even when God is blessing and using you most. Remember, when you have your best suit on, who made it and who paid for it! God’s favor is neither the work of your own hands nor the price of your own worth. How can you boast of what you did not buy? If you embezzle God’s strength and credit it to your own account, He will soon call an audit and take back what was His all along. Even when He seems the most generous with your spiritual allowance, He still keeps the account in His own name and can at once reduce you to spiritual poverty if you misappropriate his grace.

Walk humbly, therefore, before God and manage well the strength you have, remembering that it is borrowed strength. What kind of man will waste what he begs? Or who will give to a pauper who squanders what he has already been given? How can you look God in the face and ask for more if you mis-spend what you have already so graciously received?

(William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour)

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Sermon in a Sentence

This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on Ephesians 6:18-20. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Prayer – a vital part of our spiritual warfare – is to be continual, Spirit-directed, varied, persistent, and intercessory.

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I’d like to put  a rock in your shoe.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (emphasis mine)

The warfare we wage is a spiritual battle, not physical. Therefore, the battlefield is our mind and heart. Our orders are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Bringing “every thought captive” means just that – every thought, not some or most or only the important ones. If we’re to submit our thoughts, arguments, and opinions to the Lord Jesus Christ in order to bring them into obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, then what about everything else?

Why stop at our thoughts? Why wouldn’t take everything else “captive to obey Christ”? Our clothes? Our recreation? Our television-watching habits? Our child-rearing? Our educational choices? Our friendships? Our marriage? Our vacations? The movies we watch or don’t watch? Our jobs? Our personalities, especially those things we consider quirks (or “that’s just the way I am”)? Jesus is Lord of all, not just when we’re at church on Sunday or when we’re engaged in a “Christian” activity. The Bible speaks to all areas of life, not just how to be saved. Why, then, don’t we take everything “captive to obey Christ”?

Just asking and thinking.

 

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O Church Arise

We sang this wonderful hymn last Sunday in church. It went well with my sermon on Ephesians 6:14-17 – “The Christian in Complete Armor.” Enjoy!

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