Category Archives: Reformation

Guard what is entrusted

1 Timothy 6:20–21 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.

Each of us has been entrusted with the Gospel.  The Word of God, which is truth, is a target for people who want to deceive with false “knowledge”.  They corrupt the Gospel and call it truth.  They replace sound doctrine with man-made ideas and call it “enlightened”.  In many cases, they include a part-truth, but stop short of the whole truth.  In doing so, they lead many astray.

Timothy, a pastor, was entrusted with leading a church, keeping the hearts and minds of God’s people focused on the Truth.  But we don’t need to be pastors or teachers to feel the same obligation.  You and I are all called to be guardians of the Truth.

This is not a sentry position where we lock up the Gospel and stand guard lest anyone should get ahold of it.  We preserve God’s Word and sound doctrine by spreading it, sharing with all who will hear.  Sometimes for fear of being able to answer those who oppose the Gospel, we keep it quiet.  While it may sometimes be necessary to refute opponents, all we really need to do is spread God’s Word.  Truth will prevail on its own.  Darkness cannot remain where there is light. It’s our job to shine the light (Matthew 5:16).

Peace with God

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you think of when you think of justification through Christ? Do you think of how your sins have been forgiven? They have (Colossians 1:14). Do you think of how you are now lead by Jesus who is your Lord? You are (John 10:27). Do you think of how you’ve now put off your old self and put on an entirely new self? You have (Colossians 3:9). You’re a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). One thing many of us fail to think about, however, is that we have peace with God through Jesus. Oh, I’m not talking about how we’re a little more settled and a little less high strung now. Those things are true too. But, we were once the enemies of God (James 4:4) and now we are at peace with Him.

This word, “peace”, it carries with it so many thoughts, so many feelings, so much nuance. We use it in so many contexts to mean so many things. But this word, this εἰρήνην in the original language, it does not simply mean that we have an absence of anxiety. It means we have an absence of war. Jesus ushered in the treaty when He died on that cross and rose again. He allowed us to walk up to the table with God and sign the agreement, if we so choose, to be at peace. To be God’s ally. It’s then that we find rest and “peace” with all those other connotations.

As followers of Christ, we’ve now been adopted into the very family of God (John 1:12). We’re no longer strangers who battle against our Creator, but children who can communicate with our daddy. We’re not enemy combatants, constantly worried about fighting the adversary that can’t be defeated. Now, we’re on God’s side and He’s on ours. It’s because of Jesus. Because He justified us with His blood, we are given this opportunity. Because of Him, we can lay down our arms and cross over to the other side. And there we find peace.

Soli Deo Gloria

1 Corinthians 10:31  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

What is the meaning of life?  It’s a question that’s been asked throughout the ages.  What am I here for?  Why did God make me?  These questions will be asked for many ages to come, yet the answers are right before us.  They aren’t hidden from us.  Within God’s Word is the meaning of life.

Many attempts have been made, many guesses at the meaning of life.  From the simple yet naïve “Happiness” to the more discerning “helping others”, we’ve tried to figure it all out.  But we need not guess.  God did not leave this question open-ended.  He spoke and we should listen.

We’re told repeatedly in the Bible that all things were made by God and for God (Colossians 1:16, Romans 11:36).  This includes us.  You and I were made by God for God’s glory.  We’re made in His image! (Genesis 1:27)  I love how Psalm 8 describes God’s creation and our relationship to it. Salvation comes from Him and Him alone.  Not one of us is worthy of one bit of the glory. We are the created but He is the Creator, the Sanctifier, the Redeemer, the Savior.

None of this is by accident, none of it coincidence.  We’re all created with a purpose and that purpose is God’s.  We’re here for Him.  So what do we do?  Live like it!  Whatever we do: when we work, when we play, when we create, when we marry…when we die…  We can do it all for the glory of our God.

 

Solus Christus

I Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

Many and varied are the ways that man tries to get closer to God.  New religions spring up all the time, each seeking to find the right way to become whole.  Hundreds of self-help books are shelved at each book store, none quite adequately fulfilling our quest.  None quite bringing us into that place where we stand in right relationship with our Creator.

It’s sad that we spend so much time searching when the answer our souls seek has already been given.  We don’t attain enlightenment by searching within ourselves.  We don’t achieve entrance into heaven through doing enough good deeds.  There is one way to God and He is Christ Jesus.  He is our Savior, our King, our friend. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36) and not one thing was created that was not created by Him (John 1:3). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and only He qualifies to mediate between God and man (John 14:6).We can try to fix ourselves, try to gain knowledge, or try to work our way to righteousness, but in the end it’s all in vain.  Only Christ can save us.  Only He can set us free (John 8:32).

 

Sola Gratia

Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Some ask how a loving God could allow anyone to go to hell.  Perhaps this is the wrong question though.  A better question is how a just God could allow any of us to go to heaven.  Even at our best, we still fail to live up to God’s standard for “good”.  Our very best attempts at righteousness are just filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  This is true of every one of us.  The question then is not how God can send some of us to hell but how He can allow even one of us to enter into fellowship with Him.

Two words come to mind: love and grace.  God is all-knowing.  It was not a surprise to Him that man would fall short of the plan.  But even in spite of this, God created a way.  Through His Son we can know Him.  By His grace we have been delivered.  Only someone who is full of love could even conceive of forgiving His enemies and allowing them a place that only friends deserve.

God does not send people to hell, we’re all headed there on our own from birth.  Our loving God provides a way out, a way to Him.  We can never earn this.  It’s by grace alone.

 

Sola Scriptura

John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Bible, God’s Holy Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).  It is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). The Word is from God to man; His will, His plan, His love, all contained between those two covers.  It is not merely words on pages.

The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believers (Romans 1:16).  It is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit (Hebrews 4:12).  Within the Scriptures are the words of life.  Apart from God and His Word, there is no life.

Jesus said if we abide in His Word we are truly His disciples.  By it we will know the truth and the truth shall set us free (John 8:31-32).  Apart from God there is no truth, for He is truth. There is no greater way to know the will of God than to know His Word.

God’s Word stands alone.  It is divinely inspired, containing no error.  All of the self-help books in the world could never compare to the Book that tells us we can’t help ourselves and offers hope to all mankind.

 

Sola Fide

Romans 3:28  For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

There was, even in the time of the first century church, controversy surrounding the subject of whether one is justified through faith alone or whether that is not sufficient on its own.  Many Christians of Jewish heritage believed that one must first become a Jew (come under the Jewish laws) before becoming a legitimate Christian.  Today we have similar sects within the church that believe justification comes though a combination of faith and works.

There is no biblical support for this view.  To the contrary, the Bible tells us that Jesus died once and for all (Romans 6:10).  To add requirements for salvation is to cheapen the cross.  James’ argument in the New Testament (James 2:14-26) is not that works are a requirement for salvation but rather that salvation through faith in Christ results in good works.

The bad news is that there is nothing you or I can do to get into a right relationship with God.  The good news is that because of Christ Jesus we don’t have to earn our way into God’s favor.  Justification is found through faith in Christ alone.  This is a wondrous, glorious truth.  God loves us so much that He sent His Son because He knew that otherwise we could never be good enough (Romans 5:8). We just need to put our faith in Him.  What an awesome God we serve!

 

Unveiled

2 Corinthians 3:18  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.


We are ministers of the new covenant. You and I are living testimony of God’s Word. When Moses handed down the Law to the Israelites, he veiled his face because they were not ready to see God’s glory (2 Cor. 3:7). Only when Christ came could we be ready for that. But now, because He came, God’s glory is not written merely in ink, but on our hearts. We bear witness, serving as a letter from Christ (2 Cor. 3:3).The Israelites could not face God’s law, which once brought glory but in the end only led to death, but now we bring the message of His righteousness through Christ.

Because of Christ, the veil has been removed and we have freedom in the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17). We behold God’s glory and bear His image to others.And the best part of this is that we’re being transformed more and more into that image (2 Cor. 3:18), becoming the righteousness of God. Each event of our lives is shaping us into that image and we grow as we seek God more and more.

We are ambassadors to the world to show them who God is. Let’s take that seriously and carry His message to the ends of the earth. We can have boldness because we act not in our own sufficiency, but in our Lord’s (2 Cor. 3:4). This is the gift of the Spirit.

Godly discernment

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ


To be sure, there are a lot of “spiritual” people and things out there today.  Take a look around your Christian bookstore and you’ll see a wide range of products all claiming to be spiritual.  As Christ followers, we have to be on our guard against false doctrine.  It’s out duty to be mindful of what we’re bring taught about the gospel.

Paul warned the Colossians of such things, drawing attention to those that teach a deceitful philosophy and keep our attentions on worldly ideas rather than the things of Christ.  There are more than a few wolves posing as sheep, just waiting to catch us in their snares.  Some even believe that they’re correct in their doctrine.  They don’t necessarily have nefarious motives, they’re just wrong. False doctrines can seem harmless, even wise.  They can feel right to man, but in the end, they lead us away from the one true God.

We shouldn’t fear these deceptions, rather we should seek godly wisdom.  Discernment acquired through the Holy Spirit keeps us on the right path.  Such false teaching will be obvious to us if we walk in truth.  We won’t have to sniff out false teaching if we’re truly familiar with Truth.  For those who belong to Him know His voice (John 10:4).  We won’t be inclined to follow another if we know the One who is Truth personally.

Do the Word

Reformation

James 1:22  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

What do we do with the Word once we’ve received it?  We’ve put aside our sinful nature (Ephesians 4:22) and we’ve opened ourselves to receive from God.  But now what?  Church on Sundays?  Maybe a church function now and then?  Bible reading?  What?

There’s no question that as disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we’re to read the Scriptures, studying them and learning all we can.  We’re absolutely called to attend Sunday worship services with other believers (Hebrews 10:25), taking part in corporate worship, listening to a sermon, and sharing life with others.  Quiet study and prayer done in solitude are vital to the life of a Christian as well.

But James takes things a bit further.  Being doers of the Word is to live out our beliefs.  Jesus taught us to “love one another” and we must do this, not just think about it.  He called us to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).  This too requires action.

For more examples look no further than a few verses later in James’ writing. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).  This, of course, does not limit us to only looking after orphans and widows.  James makes his point that true faith leads to action.  Action beyond our church campus, out in our communities, amongst our neighbors.  True religion puts hands and feet to work, doing God’s will.