Nailing Our Theses

What does this week mean to a Christian? If we know our history, we have hope in Christ that was hidden until the 1500s. This post is not to educate Christians about the period of Reformation, just to relate the events to our individual lives.

We have Bibles available that others did not have before the Reformation. The Word of God, proclaimed to all men, was held in trust by only a few of the church. That was changed when the heart and life of a young monk named Martin Luther was changed. He saw the only hope of salvation apart from works as he searched the Scriptures for himself. His study of Paul’s letter to the Romans brought him to see and know Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. To make known his thoughts on the corruption of the church, he arranged his 95 theses and nailed them to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, thinking to arrange discussions or debate.

“But why October 31? November 1 held a special place in the church calendar as All Saints’ Day. On November 1, 1517, a massive exhibit of newly acquired relics would be on display at Wittenberg, Luther’s home city. Pilgrims would come from all over, genuflect before the relics, and take hundreds, if not thousands, of years off time in purgatory. Luther’s soul grew even more vexed. None of this seemed right.One of Luther’s 95 Theses simply declares, “The Church’s true treasure is the gospel of Jesus Christ. That alone is the meaning of Reformation Day. The church had lost sight of the gospel because it had long ago papered over the pages of God’s Word with layer upon layer of tradition. Tradition always brings about systems of works, of earning your way back to God. It was true of the Pharisees, and it was true of medieval Roman Catholicism. Didn’t Christ Himself say, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light?” Reformation Day celebrates the joyful beauty of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ.” What is Reformation Day?

“Martin Luther claimed that what distinguished him from previous reformers was that while they attacked corruption in the life of the church, he went to the theological root of the problem—the perversion of the church’s doctrine of redemption and grace. Luther, a pastor and professor at the University of Wittenberg, deplored the entanglement of God’s free gift of grace in a complex system of indulgences and good works. In his Ninety-five Theses, he attacked the indulgence system,” Reformation, Encyclopedia Brittanica

We might ask, “Are there false teachings in the church today?” How far have we come even in this century, from the simplicity that is in Christ, having added our own traditions, programs, etc.?

Two main questions we are led to ask at this point in the life of the church are really personal. The church will not stand in final judgment with us. We will stand alone, either in Christ through the salvation offered to us through Him, or outside of the gospel, alone and without hope for eternity.

  1. What is our personal thesis or theses? What do we believe of Christ as revealed in God’s Word? Have we discovered the truths about our own salvation as Martin Luther did?
  2. Where have we nailed our theses? On what doors of our lives have we proclaimed Christ as our Lord and Savior?

We have the Bible. We hold the truth in our own hands. We claim the gospel alone as our attack against false teachings and against Satan’s power in the church and in our own lives.

We nail our beliefs to the door of our heart. We proclaim the truths of God’s grace in Christ alone, nailing these to the door of our homes, the door of our car, the door of our workplace, the door of our schools.

Wherever we are as faithful followers of Christ, we wear our theses as our armor of faith, we take them wherever we go; we testify of them without fear, and die with them if need be.

Are there enough of us as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2) to challenge our churches today?

Have you taken the time to establish the truths of God’s Word for yourself, and to stand firm on His Word no matter the cost?

Gracious Father in heaven, thank you for leading the Reformers to know your Word and to stand firm. Thank you for those who died that we might have your Word in this generation. Guide your people to take a stand for the truth of the gospel in our churches and before the world. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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Lord of Grace and Glory

For the last several weeks I have been mentoring a young woman who came to our church because of her interest in reformed Baptist theology.  Like me, and so many of our membership, she comes from a Southern Baptist background.  And as so many others I have met, she questions the decision that she made when she was a child—a decision to accept Christ, so as to escape hell. As with many who grow up and encounter a different gospel—the truth that she never heard before—she is finding that fire insurance does not necessarily provide eternal assurance.

I cannot, nor can any minister, family member, or friend, assure her that her decision as a child was valid.  Only the word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit can apply this”seal” to her own mind and heart.  We’re not saying that childhood experiences of faith are not real, but, that if they are, they will last.  They not only last, but they grow.  Even when we have doubts, these may be means of God’s grace to establish our faith and relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is not where we were ten or twenty years ago that counts for salvation, but where we are today, in our relationship with Christ.

From my own experience—and so many others who have walked the aisle, shook the pastors hand, done the baptism and church membership—these made little difference in my life. I compare it to the birth of a newborn baby.  We don’t bring the baby home, put it in a crib and leave it there.  We personally hold it, feed it, teach it, bring it to maturity and adulthood.  Discipleship in the church for the past decades has been almost nil.  When church conventions started looking at numbers the emphasis was placed on getting as many as possible to sign “on the dotted line.”  From that point salvation was done, left to the individual, whatever the age. Evangelism has become “the thing” in a lot of churches.  Getting the decisions are the big thing, but how much emphasis is on discipling the new converts.  How many are able to disciple those who are “won to Christ?”

The first part is the exciting part, mostly emotional for a lot of people; but afterward we are required to give ourselves to “sanctification” in “obedience of faith;” to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  It is the Word of God that feeds us and the Spirit of God that satisfies our new heart’s desires.  We know nothing of  these things, except as we have someone to teach us.  True, many have on their own, grown without personal help, but this is rare.  We need the whole body of Christ, and someone in particular to take us by the hand, under their wing, and with the truth lead us in the truth; with the “milk” until we are ready for the “meat.”

In part II of this article we will share what Linda and I have recently discovered about Christ, the Lord of  grace and glory, in “Heaven Opened—the Riches of God’s Covenant” by Richard Alleine, a Soli Deo Gloria Publication.