Sunday, October 19, 2008

October 19th - Martin Luther

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Resumed from Last Week
Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

This passage was written 700 years before the birth of Christ, I hope you can see him in this Old Testament passage. Many Rabbis today won't read Isaiah 53, skipping from chapter 52 to 54. Their reasoning is that it sounds too much like Jesus for them to read, but their hardened hearts keep them from seeing that it actually is Jesus.

John 10:9-10 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

The implication of this verse is that if Christ came to give us life, and an abundance of it, then we must have had death before and not only so, but an overabundance of death. This is exactly what Ephesians 2:1 says, that we were dead in our sins and trespasses. Christ won't make your life peachy, you aren't promised money, possesssions, or popularity, you are actually promised trials and tribulations, but we know that if we are raised with Christ then we have eternal life, and once Christ purges the universe of sin, then we will have perpetual happiness and peace.

Reformation Day
I had a very busy week with evangelism and school so didn't prepare a lesson for 1 Thessalonians 2. This lesson is about Reformation Day, which is October 31st. When most people are saying, "Happy Halloween," I say, "Happy Reformation Day!" The reason it is called this is because this was the day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg. Today I want to share with you why that was important, and so you'll be ready to celebrate Reformation Day this year.

The Six Solas of the Reformation
There are several Solas of the Reformation, some churches claim there were only two, others five, but I maintain that there are six. These weren't written down by Luther or Calvin or Zwingli, but these encompass beautifully what their philosophy based on the Bible taught them.

Sola Gratia - You are saved by grace alone. (Ephesians 2:5)
Sola Fide - Your faith alone is your application for grace. (Romans 5:2)
Solus Christus - We are redeemed by the work of Christ alone. (Galatians 1:3-5)
Sola Scriptura - We know these things through scripture alone. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
Soli Deo Gloria - These are all for the glory of God. (Galatians 1:3-5)
Sola Sacerdos - The result is one priesthood of believers, we bring our sins before the throne of Grace and our Great High Priest Jesus Christ is our mediator with God. (1 Timothy 2:5) We all stand in equal standing. (2 Peter 1:1)

In conclusion, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ known by the Bible for the glory of God resulting in one church.

The Bible teaches these six things very clearly, but people always want to do something to go to Heaven. In the Fifth Century, an Emperor named Constantine realized that he had to do something about Christianity because it was hurting his empire by making people too moral. He had a vision that he would win a great victory under the symbol of Christianity, which at the time was the Chi-Rho symbol, which in English is X-R which is the first two letters of Christ. The problem was that his enemy, Maximillian, had the same vision, so this vision probably was not from God. I believe the devil did a great work to defeat the current church under its own symbol by paganizing it.

Constantine won, and legalized Christianity. It was the worst thing that ever happened to the world and the church. Instead of tearing down the pagan temples, Constantine just built churches next to them. He paid his soldiers the equivilent of $20 to convert to Christianity and effectively killed the church through false converts.

During the 1100 years that the Roman Catholic Church reigned, history has dubbed this the "Dark Ages", because there was not much of a Christian presence. The Donatists, Waldensians, and Lombards were a few real churches, but they were not active in evangelism. The Hussites were the last before Martin Luther, they get their name from the town they lived in, Hussinic, which means Goose Lake. Many of them were burnt at the stake because they were more evangelistic and against the Catholic Church. This is where we get the term, "Your goose is cooked."

One of the reasons the church faired so poorly was because they were deprived of the Bible. They spoke English, French, German, Italian, and the Bible was in Latin, so they couldn't understand it. You have to know that without the Bible, the church will die. There are few things I would die for, one of course is Christ, second is my brothers and sisters in Christ, including you guys, and third is the right to own and read a Bible. Within our lifetimes I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see them try to outlaw first purchasing Bibles, and then owning or giving Bibles.

In the 15th Century, Constantinople was sacked by the Muslims, and Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible flooded into Europe. I believe this was divine, in that Constantine killed the church, and then the city that bore his name fell and the church was revived.

Martin Luther started his life as a lawyer, but then became a Monk. He earned his doctorate by 23, and we see this a lot in the Reformation and amongst godly Christians. Education is not a mark of intelligence or ability, but people with a motivated character often end up with high educations.

Colossians 3:1-3,17 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In school, it is not so important what you are learning, but that you are learning to the best of your abilities. Working on things you don't like is a great way to build character, for example, if you don't like math, then work extra hard to do well in it so that you discipline yourself to complete hard tasks. Long before I was a Christian, someone told me, Anything worth doing is worth doing well. and this advice has served me well. It similarly served Martin Luther well to do everything he did, well.

As a monk, Luther was exceedingly sensitive to his sins. He used to bore the priests that heard his confession by telling them what they thought were mundane and boring sins. They enjoyed hearing about people's sinfulness, but not Luther's list of sins. Luther recognized this and became annoyed with the church, then he heard a priest, when he was supposed to be "Horpus Corpus"ing the communion bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ say, "Bread thou is, and bread thou shalt remain." Luther was aghast that they would take their religious duties so flippantly, and he dove into the Bible.

He was reading through Romans and came to Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. He realized that faith came externally, that it didn't come from the heart, but that it came from the Word of God. He restarted Romans reading it with this hermeneutic, which is the way you read the Bible.

He got to verse 17, For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." He said the "light broke over him" and he was saved, the external gift of faith from God resulted in his salvation. He thought he had found what other Catholics had but that he had been missing for so long. His conscience was cleansed, he realized that all of his sins were paid for on Calvary's cross and that he didn't need to, and couldn't, ever pay God for his sins, but that they were already paid for.

He wanted to reform the Catholic Church at first, which is the biblical model, telling someone they are against God first and trying to get them to change, and then if they won't change, then excommunication or other measures. A man named Tetzel came to Wittenburg, Luther's town, to solicit money for a new church in Rome, he did this by selling indulgences, which is a ticket to sin. This outraged Luther.

On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed a list of 95 grievances against the Catholic Church to the bulletin board, which was the door of the church, in hopes that they would reform. Within a matter of weeks this list had been published and sent all over Europe. Some of these were things like saying, "If the Pope had the authority to forgive sins, he ought to forgive them all out of the goodness of his heart instead of having people pay for them." He also wrote a lot about how sins were paid for in the blood of Christ and not through money.

The Roman Catholic Church didn't like that and summonsed Luther to Worms (Pronounced Vorms) and held a meeting, called a Diet, to see if he was a heretic. Luther went to this fully expecting to die. He was a great preacher though and God was on his side. They asked him, "Do you renounce the things you have written?" And he said that much of what he had written was in allignment with the RCC and so to renounce it would be to renounce good doctrine. They asked him about the things he had written against the RCC, and since the crowd was pretty small he asked to be given another day to think about it, but he was really hoping for a bigger crowd to preach to the next day. Someone asked him if he agreed with the Hussites and he had never heard about them.

He read all night about John of Hussinic, the leader of the Hussites, and the next day stated, "I am a Hussite." To a much larger crowd, gathered to see him executed, he then stated his most famous line, "Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me." You are always right if you are standing with the Bible, even in the early 1900's when science had claimed to have proved evolution and there was almost no evidence for creation, you would have been right to have stood on the Bible that God created the universe only a few thousand years ago. Now we know through evidence that the Bible is right, but the lack of evidence 100 years ago didn't make the Bible less right. Stand with the Bible and you'll never be wrong, no matter if an entire Roman Catholic Church stands against you, like it did with Luther.

Luther left Worms and undoubtedly would have been killed if King Frederick of Germany had not sided with him, having likely been converted, and he changed Luther's name to George, knighted him, and hid him in a castle called the "Kingdom of the Birds", which is so named because it was built on top of a mountain. Here Luther studied his Bible and translated it into German, he also wrote his famous song, "A Mighty Fortress is our God."

Once the Bible was translated, the Reformation was unstoppable.

Two last things, Luther married a nun named Katy. When the new Protestants were reading their Bibles, they realized they should be married, so they paired up nuns with monks and they got married without dating or anything. Luther was matched with Katy, who was a few years older than him, and he did the biblical thing, which was to love her because he loved her, not because of anything she did for him or because she was extra beautiful or anything, and by all accounts they had a wonderful marriage.

The final thing, you've probably heard that America is dying. That is incorrect, America is dead. But remember, we serve a God who rose from the grave and raises from the dead. When Luther started the Reformation, the entire world was dead spiritually, and God revived it. God can save the United States, if we preach, people will be saved, and so will the nation.

Witness to one person by Sunday, October 26th, and receive $5.