Friday, October 2, 2020

Five Things on Friday

Here are five things which are on my mind this week...

1) My September-October Sermon Series is "Fruit of Our Faith" from Galatians 5:22-23. Last Sunday was one of my favorites messages from the series on the fruit of 'Kindness.' Here is the video of that message if you have ~22 minutes.

2) This week I read a really accessible book on heresy. The book is authored by the staff at Ligonier Ministries titled A Field Guide on False Teaching. It has been quite good. Here's a look at the table of contents:

Being Prepared to Make a Defense


The Prosperity Gospel


Christian Science
Jehovah’s Witnesses


New Age Spirituality
Atheism and Secularism

3) I'm a pretty big Dave Ramsey fan since taking Financial Peace University at the Alameda Church of Christ about 15 years ago. His team has rolled out a new product called Ramsey+ —a subscription product which gives you access to FPU and other resources for a nice annual price. If you are looking for financial guidance and wisdom, I highly recommend this product.

4) “Condemned. Reprobated. Rejected.” It’s 1520, and a monk by the name of Martin Luther has been declared a heretic by the most powerful man on earth. Luther is left with a choice: will he recant his teachings or stand alone for the truth?

Over at Ligonier Ministries, listen to the trailer for their newest podcast, Luther: In Real Time. Each episode is released 500 years to the day after the events described, allowing you to walk in Luther’s footsteps from his heresy charges to his famous stand for God’s Word.

The dramatic journey begins on October 10. Subscribe now to hear the trailer and to ensure that you receive each episode exactly 500 years after every twist and turn. Share this podcast with people of all ages so they can hear—in Luther’s own words—what Protestants are protesting and why it still matters today.

5) Do you know about Reformation Day on October 31st? I celebrate it every year since becoming a Christian. Here's the background: A single event on a single day changed the world. It was October 31, 1517. Brother Martin Luther, a monk and a scholar, had struggled for years with his church, the church in Rome. He had been greatly disturbed by an unprecedented indulgence sale. The story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. Let’s meet the cast.

First, there is the young bishop—too young by church laws—Albert of Mainz. Not only was he bishop over two bishoprics, he desired an additional archbishopric over Mainz. This too was against church laws. So Albert appealed to the Pope in Rome, Leo X. From the De Medici family, Leo X greedily allowed his tastes to exceed his financial resources. Enter the artists and sculptors, Raphael and Michelangelo.

When Albert of Mainz appealed for a papal dispensation, Leo X was ready to deal. Albert, with the papal blessing, would sell indulgences for past, present, and future sins. All of this sickened the monk, Martin Luther. Can we buy our way into heaven? Luther had to speak out.

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.

Martin Luther, a scholar, took quill in hand, dipped it in his inkwell and penned his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517. These were intended to spark a debate, to stir some soul-searching among his fellow brothers in the church. The 95 Theses sparked far more than a debate. The 95 Theses also revealed the church was far beyond rehabilitation. It needed a reformation. The church, and the world, would never be the same.

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? It is the day the light of the gospel broke forth out of darkness. It was the day that began the Protestant Reformation. It was a day that led to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and many other Reformers helping the church find its way back to God’s Word as the only authority for faith and life and leading the church back to the glorious doctrines of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It kindled the fires of missionary endeavors, it led to hymn writing and congregational singing, and it led to the centrality of the sermon and preaching for the people of God. It is the celebration of a theological, ecclesiastical, and cultural transformation.

So we celebrate Reformation Day. It is a day that reminds us to be thankful for our past and to the Monk turned Reformer. What’s more, this day reminds us of our duty, our obligation, to keep the light of the gospel at the center of all we do.