It's so essential to understand *why* the Reformation is important to us today. It's so important to realize *why* the 500th anniversary isn't just another date... in history. All Protestants should should be excited and reflecting upon what happened nearly 500 years ago in Germany.
As part of this reflection, I'd like to look back on a decree from the Council of Trent. The Council met some 20 years after Luther's historic nailing of his 95 Thesis to the Wittenberg Castle Church door. The Council was a direct response to the Reformation.
In January 1547, the Council issued its decree. Its decrees included pointed language which directly condemned some of the essential doctrines of the Reformation — some of which you will recognize as core biblical teachings.
One which I'd like to draw attention to is Canon IX (9) of the Council's decree:
"If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."
In other words, if someone is to say that a person is justified before God by grace alone through faith alone (Eph 2:8-10) and not through any other act of their own will, then they are "anathema", that is excommunicated and separated from the body of Christ.
This decree from Rome has never been rescinded.
It's important to recognize what separates Protestantism from Romanism. Why are you Protestant? Do you know why? Is it merely tradition? Taste? What you've always known? Those are terrible foundations for your faith.
Dig deeper. Invest time. Research. Read. Find out what was so important that Marin Luther and the other early Reformers risked EVERYTHING for.
Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda!
The overarching theme here is disturbing from a Christian perspective.
Many who claim to be followers of Jesus show more reverence for the flag than they do the Bible, have more concern respect be shown to the national anthem than God, care more for the well-being of soldiers than gospel ministers, and believe each election cycle we're electing the spiritual messiah of America.
No. I don't hate my country. I love my country — but I love Jesus Christ more....
It's for love of God to the utmost, and also a love for country I call America to repent of its idolatry, self-worship, pride, sexual immorality, murder, thievery, lust, blasphemy, covetousness, adultery, deceitfulness, and all other sins which prevent America from ever being great again until they are properly laid before the cross of Jesus Christ.
The message of the gospel is simple: We are all sinners worthy of righteous judgement. God is an infinitely holy and just God. He will not allow the violation of His law to go without justice. To ignore or lessen the rightful and appropriate penalty of violating His law would make Him unjust — He can not be unjust.
We deserve eternal damnation — eternal separation from God. We are all born as sinners. We sin because our nature as human beings is to desire sin. We like it. No amount of goodness in us fulfills the justice of God.
God sent His Son Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity (God's singular eternal being existing as three distinct persons), to enter Creation as the God-Man Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man. He clothed Himself in humanity. As God, He was able to do what we could not: live without sinning.
He then offered His life up as a sacrifice, a substitutionary atonement for the sins of His people. Jesus was crucified, died, and buried. On the third day, He rose from the grave.
He calls on all people to repent of their sins and believe in Him. To those who repent (turn away from and change their mind ) He offers eternal life, fellowship, and an inheritance.
But for those who do not accept are already condemned as children of wrath, naturally fulfilling the desires of their heart.
Therefore, America, humble yourselves before God, repent of your sins, and believe!
If only America's Christians held the same zeal for speaking out against the profaning of marriage, the blaspheming of God's name, the slaughter of the preborn, and the tyranny of a godless government that they've shown towards those not standing in a sports arena while a patriotic song plays.
If only America had that passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ above and beyond petty transient politics, America could indeed be great again.
America can not be great without the law ...of God in the hearts of Americans.
Social justice can not be achieved without first beginning with the law of God and it living in our hearts. We can not begin to understand justice until we understand the justice of God.
The solution to America's ills is the uniting power of Jesus Christ. Until Christians forgo worldly traps and wisdom and trust in the all-powerful Savior who is mighty to save and heal all of our problems with His gospel, we will continue to destroy ourselves.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:5-8 ESV
We so affirm.
... We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials. ...
The only solution to America's ills is a repentant heart bowed in submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Politicians, policies, and protests will insufficient to stem the passions of man whose heart is inherently sinful and depraved.
If you wish to heal America, begin with your own heart. Bow your knees and bend your pride in submission to the only King who can heal your land.
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. For those who repent of their sins, th...at is turn away with abhorence at their evil, and submit themselves to the God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ who died for their sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of all of our sins, and will bless us our nation if we should continue to walk in His ways.
If you choose to ignore His warnings, continue to treat your faith as something you do on Sundays and then hang it up as another legitimate choice among many religions, the God who created you will not take your apathy lightly. America, continue to reject and pay lip service to your God at your own peril. The same God who wishes to bless you is also the same God who will judge you.
Here is a great argument which illustrates why Christianity is unlike other theistic religions. No, not all gods are the same. Our God is unlike any other and the shortcomings of other gods have serious implications which are often ignored.
"When I argue that God is absolutely necessary in order for man to have knowledge, meaning, dignity, ethics, and so on, I am not arguing for any type of a god b...ut specifically the Christian God who has revealed Himself infallibly in the Bible. Only the absolute, triune God (and only the Christian system which He has revealed to man) can account for reality and answer the questions that secular humanism cannot answer. Other forms of theism, such as Islam and Judaism, cannot be offered as viable worldviews against secular humanism, because they, like secular humanism, have embraced human autonomy as a source for truth over biblical revelation. Therefore, non-Christian theistic systems and worldviews are arbitrary, self-contradictory and false.
An excellent example of self-contradiction is in the area God’s righteousness. Both Orthodox Judaism and Islam believe in absolute ethics which come from an absolute, unchanging God. But both Judaism and Islam reject the atoning, sacrificial death of the God-man Jesus Christ in favor of salvation by merit or works of righteousness. Now if God is ethically perfect and God’s law reflects His holy, righteous character, every sin must be punished. Guilt cannot just be overlooked by God; it must be expiated. Only the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ in the place of His people, as a propitiation for sin, can harmonize the fact that God is infinitely righteous with the reality that God saves sinners and allows them in His presence. God does not set aside His perfect righteousness in order to save sinners. God is both just and the justifier of the ungodly. “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Ac. 4:12; note: Scripture quotations are from the NKJV unless otherwise noted). There is no neutrality or fence-sitting in God’s universe; either you wholeheartedly embrace the Lord Jesus Christ or you place your trust in finite, sinful man."
Why circular reasoning isn't always wrong.
How do we know who God is? Because He's revealed Himself in the Bible. How do we know the Bible is the revelation of God? Because God said so.
This, as you may... notice, is a circular argument. But is it wrong? Is it fallacious?
Some, including many Christians, would argue, "Yes, it's circular reasoning. You are appealing to God to prove God."
Imagine a wooden stool. The seat is the thesis (central point or statement) and the legs coming down are the lines of argument which hold up the thesis.
A typical circular argument tries to put the seat on the floor, claim the seat is the legs, and go, "Hey look! A stool!"
The result is a failed stool or a failed thesis without a valid supporting argument. This is called a vicious circle. It destroys itself.
But what if the stool was a large stump? Necessarily, the stool would support itself by its very nature. But can we do the same with a thesis? Can we have a thesis which supports itself and by necessity is circular?
When we provide evidence or arguments we are verifying the validity of our claims. Let's take another example.
A defense lawyer in court calls an expert witness in a murder trial. It goes like this:
Lawyer: Would you tell the court your name?
Expert: Dr. Barbara Baker
Lawyer: Dr. Baker, can you please tell us where you work and your position.
Expert: I am the lead homicide forensics researcher at Great University.
Lawyer: How long have you worked there?
Expert: In this position? I've worked in my department 20 years and for the last 5 as our research lead.
Okay. Back to here. Do you see the appeals made to prove the credibility of the expert witness? The lawyer asks for a name, where she works, how long she has worked there, what she does, and all of these facts establish credibility with the jury that what they are about to hear from Dr. Baker is reliable and authoritative.
The defense lawyer knows Dr. Baker by herself, just sitting on the stand and talking isn't a credible authority; she's just a woman sitting on a stand.
But her experience, position, and accomplishments testify to her expertise and truthfulness she wouldn't otherwise have because those things bear authority in a murder trial.
What does this have to do with God?
We run into a unique issue with God. Maybe you have figured it out already. If not, maybe this verse will make it obvious:
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
- Hebrews 6:13 ESV
When you made a contract, you might swear to someone greater than you. Someone who can be recognized as more trustworthy or authoritative than yourself to ensure the contract is upheld.
But due to the nature of God, there isn't anyone of more authority, credibility, or trustworthiness by which to swear.
God is THE ultimate authority.
An ultimate authority by its nature must appeal to itself - this is called a virtuous circle. The virtuous can be discerned from the vicious because the virtuous circle can by its nature support itself.
Bringing us back full circle (pun intended), the word of God is literally God speaking. What authority can we appeal to which can testify to God's own truthfulness? Any evidence will be a lesser authority which will by its nature be of less credibility than God Himself.
So how do we know the Bible is real? Couldn't anyone just claim their book is the word of God and avoid all criticism?
Returning to the court room, whether anyone knew it or not, Dr. Baker possessed the necessary creditentials. However, before she gave her testimony, she first authenticated her testimony as a witness by answering the lawyers questions.
The Bible in a similar authenticates itself. There are fundamental questions about the world around us the Bible does answer, and arguably is the only source that answers all of them sufficiently.
The Bible alone can sufficiently account for objective morals, the laws of logic, the origins of the universe, the preconditions for intelligibility (what things need to be in place for communication to even be possible) and the world around us.
The Christian God, Yahweh, is the only god which can sufficiently account for, explain, and help us understand these things and why they exist. Self-contained within Scripture is the necessary information to prove it is indeed the word of God, and as the word of God it testifies of God, and He of it.
"...[What] 1 Peter 3:15 does not say is that believers are responsible to persuade anybody who challenges or questions their faith.
We can offer sound reasons t...o the unbeliever, but we cannot make him or her subjectively believe those reasons. We can refute the poor argumentation of the unbeliever, but still not persuade them. We can close the mouth of the critic, but only God can open the heart.
It is not in our ability, and not our responsibility, to regenerate the dead heart and give sight to the blind eyes of unbelievers. That is God's gracious work."
- Dr. Greg Bahnsen, PA098 -- The Biblical Worldview (VI:12; December, 1990)
This article is by Dr. Michael J. Kruger, one of the foremost experts in New Testament Canon. I highly recommend taking a few moments to read this. These often repeated myths are thoroughly debunked by historical evidence Dr. Kruger provides thorough research for.
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.
Acts 8:35 ESV
We should ...always begin with Scripture. It's God's inspired word. It's truth. It's unchanging. We can't argue for the truth if our base assumptions are doubt. When we entertain the possibility the Scripture is untrue as the starting point for our apologetics, we are hindering ourselves. We argue knowing the Scriptures are true and do not concede to unbelieving thought.
A mistake we make is taking human analogies of God and drawing them absolute conclusions. God is our Heavenly Father, but as Creator God, Righteous Judge, Sover...eign Creator, there are aspects and rights belonging to Him which are not satisfactorily defined by the human father-child relationship.
What is theology and why should the Christian care? Check out this post from our new sister page, Theology.FYI.
In ‘The Shack,’ God the Father is played by a woman named Papa. More than 25 passages in the Bible teach us about God in feminine terms. Should we really resist this kind of art?