Twelve! Wow! My only twentieth century baby (born 1999) is one year away from being a teenager! One of us is getting old! As Reformation Sunday, 2011, comes to a slow close, I praise God for His grace upon Celena’s life. He has surrounded my firstborn with light and love. He has not treated her as her sins deserve. Instead, God gave Celena loving parents and three caring siblings. Futhermore, He has provided for her needs and given her many of her wants. She has been greatly blessed. With the dawn of another year, I very much hope that she will give thanks to God and make even more effort to prove to be a blessing to those around her. May she use the months ahead to consciously glorify God by serving others! May her parents prove to be great examples in the very same!
I love you, Celena (regardless of how I totally dominated you in our basketball game earlier today)! Praying for you!
As I continue working on my sermon for Sunday–my “Reformation Day” sermon–I thought I would take a ten-minute break to mop the house (seriously) and encourage you. My encourgement is simple: Celebrate God’s amazing work in the Protestant Reformation by attending a church which teaches the famous Solas of the Reformation on Sunday.
Sola Gratia–By Grace Alone! God’s grace! Salvation is a gift, not a reward. It simply cannot be earned. Without a doubt, it cannot be purchased! Indulgences are an abomination to the Lord!
Sola Fide–By Faith Alone! Faith in Christ! This, too, is a gift (Eph. 2:8,9)! The Council of Trent (1545-1564) was the Roman Catholic authoritative and official response to the theology of the Protestant Reformation. Their canon and decrees (decisions) particularly deny that justification (sinners being declared righteous) is the result of faith in Christ, teaching, instead, that justification is the sum of faith + works.
Solo Christo–In Christ Alone! JESUS ALONE is the Redeemer! He is the only acceptable object of saving faith. If “and” follows Jesus, what is being presented is something other than the teaching of the apostles (“and” could refer to works such as baptism, church attendance, the giving of tithes, etc.).
Sola Scriptura–The Bible Alone! The Scriptures are the final authority for life and doctrine. Council decisions, pastors, popes and traditions must all compliment the Word of God, proclaming that which is explicitly revealed in Scripture if they are to have any authority.
“Since then Your Majesty and your lordship desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason–I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen” (Luther’s words before the Diet of Worms, April, 1521 as rendered in Roland H. Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, The New American Library, 1950, p.144).
Soli Deo Gloria–To God Alone be the Glory! Salvation–as all of God’s works–is accomplished that God might be glorified! As Jonathan Edwards accurately stated, God’s glory is “the end for which God created the world.”
Have a great 2011 Reformation Day!
Today finds me in the mood to worship, desiring to give God glory for all of His gifts. Several items come to mind as I write that sentence.
Our house–As I sipped my coffee early this morning, I found myself thanking God for the house He provided for my family. The house is nice and the perfect size for our four children. Truly, I do not deserve such an abode.
God’s Word–I led our 7th and 8th grade students in devotions this morning, meditating further upon 1 John. Today we camped on one small but very meaningful verse: “We love because He first loved us” (4:19). The we beginning this verse refers to those who love God and love their brothers and sisters in the faith. The we were incapable of loving God and others with the self-sacrificing love desribed and illustrated in the Word of God prior to God taking the initiative in love. In other words, God-haters are first loved by God before they become God-lovers. I informed the students that understanding this concept will enable them to grasp salvation according to the Bible.
My wife–I enjoyed having lunch with Jodi today as we monitored students at RCA. After twenty-two years, she remains my best friend. Her beauty–inside and out–becomes more beautiful with each passing year!
My “Love Bug”–This morning Dayton said it again: “I love you, Daddy.” He then proceeded to kiss my belly. It is good to know that I am loved by one of my kids!
Fall in Tennessee–As I was driving today, I was thanking God for the amazing tapestry of trees on the hills surrounding our city. This week is probably the last week to enjoy the transition. Wish you were here!
Veggie Tales and Cascade–Today my baby girl watched a Veggie Tales video as I worked. She was totally into the experience, laughing and interacting. It was hilarious. Her happiness made me happy.
I’ll stop there. God has not treated me as my sins deserve. I think we could all make that statement! I have ample reason for which to worship.
Final Results for our 2011 Fall Break Family Game Tournament:
10 Jodi–8 Tim–5 Celena–4 TJ–3 Dayton–1 Cascade
Mommy earned another championship tonight with a very controversial win at Jenga. As she placed a wooden block/plank on top, the tower acted as if it were going to topple to the right. HOWEVER, the player did not remove her hand from the piece BUT steadied the tower as she eased the piece to the left. Three plays later my move caused the tower to tumble, thus giving Jodi another family game tournament win. As expected, she denies any wrongdoing. I know better and plan to mention her antics Tuesday night as I begin teaching another Ethics class for Bryan!
Second quarter at RCA began this morning. We are praising God for a great first quarter. We are also excited about how the Lord is providing for our new school building on Delaware Avenue here in Dayton! Please pray for RCA as we continue to partnership with parents in the education of their children and as we raise money for the new property and make plans to remodel the facility and move. Thanks!
Here’s my power point from Sunday (The Top Ten Events from the Protestant Reformation). It is a large file and may take a minute to load. Trust me–the riddle is worth the wait!
Didn’t someone write a book with that title many years ago?
T.J. is my emotional child. He rides the roller coaster of emotions daily. He gets it from me. Several times this week I found myself profoundly sad. I was deeply discouraged for no apparent reason. That’s why I found the following words from John Piper helpful this afternoon:
“If we feel fatalistic and pointless and unmotivated and paralyzed in our witness to unbelievers, our feelings are out of sync with the truth, and we should ask the Lord to change our feelings.
This is the way I live my life every day. My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes—many times—my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens—and it happens every day in some measure—I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of his truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.
That’s the way I live my life every day. I hope you are with me in that battle.”
I am with Dr. Piper in the battle! Like T.J, I don’t always win. There are times that my untrustworthy emotions control me rather than what ought to happen. Can anyone relate? What was Piper’s solution? The Word of God! Everything about me–including my emotions–should be submitted to the Lordship of Christ (seen most clearly in His Word). So, then, whether I eat or drink, or find myself mad or sad, I should act and react to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31; mildly reworked).
In closing, here’s the link to the Piper sermon I found on the Desiring God website:
I have an excellent book in my library entitled The Reformation: A Rediscovery of Grace by William Childs Robinson. If the Protestant Reformation was anything, it was indeed a redicovery of God’s grace! It was also a rebirth of Augustinian theology. In light of that, I share section thirty of Augustine’s Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love (Regenry Publishing, 1961, p.36-37).
XXX. MEN ARE NOT SAVED BY GOOD WORKS, NOR BY THE FREE DETERMINATION OF THEIR OWN WILL, BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD THROUGH FAITH.
But this part of the human race to which God has promised pardon and a share in His eternal kingdom, can they be restored through the merit of their own works? God forbid. For what good work can a lost man perform, except so far as he has been delivered from perdition? Can they do anything by the free determination of their own will? Again I say, God forbid. For it was by the evil use of his free-will that man destroyed both it and himself. For, as a man who kills himself must, of course, be alive when he kills himself, but after he has killed himself ceases to live, and cannot restore himself to life; so, when man by his own free-will sinned, then sin being victorious over him, the freedom of his will was lost. ‘For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage’ (2 Pet. 2:19). This is the judgment of the Apostle Peter. And as it is certainly true, what kind of liberty, I ask, can the bond-slave possess, except when it pleases him to sin? For he is freely in bondage who does with pleasure the will of his master. Accordingly, he who is the servant of sin is free to sin. And hence he will not be free to do right, until, being freed from sin, he shall begin to be the servant of righteousness. And this is true liberty, for he has pleasure in the righteous deed; and it is at the same time a holy bondage, for he is obedient to the will of God. But whence comes this liberty to do right to the man who is in bondage and sold under sin, except he be redeemed by Him who has said, ‘If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed’ (John 8:36)? And if he is not yet free to do what is right, how can he talk of the freedom of his will and his good works, except he be inflated by the foolish pride of boasting which the apsostle restrains when he says, ‘By grace are ye saved, through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8).”
One of the reasons we struggle with the theology of God-centered theologians (the Apostle Paul being supreme) is that we have an inflated opinion of our abilities or goodness. Thankfully, God used the Reformation to remind us only God can shine the light of the gospel in the hearts of men (2 Cor. 4:6).
Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the glory)!
PS–The NO WORKS sign above refers to the truth that faith, righteousness, and salvation result from grace, not human effort. Once saved, however, believers do indeed work (Eph. 2:10), as God works in and through them for His glory (Phil. 2:13).
This power point is posted specifically for my Bryan AGS BS24 class, but anyone is welcome to view it! Let me know how you do (you’ll know what that means if you open the presentation).
I am hesitant to share another list with you. However, a list does indeed come to my mind when I contemplate my loves.
I love God. I love Jodi. I love my children. I love my family and friends. I love God’s Word. I love God’s world.
I do love God’s world–especially Fall in Tennessee. The trees are changing before my eyes. Our state–normally covered in rolling green hills–is turning into a tapestry of rich earth tones. Fall is signifcant for me. The weather finally begins to cool down. Football teams have worked out their opening week jitters and the good teams begin to separate themselves from the pack (like the 5-0 PACK). Fall Break arrives. The Reformation and Celena’s birthday will be celebrated. The holidays can be seen in the distant future. It’s a season worth enjoying!
But more than enjoying God’s world, I rejoice in God’s Word. Monday night I taught a class in Chattanooga and discussed the topics of studying the Bible and preaching. I love both! I suppose that’s why I teach Sunday School and why I recently agreed to preach the last two Sundays of this month. I have already begun my preparations. This coming week in Sunday School, I’ll continue teaching Romans, chapter 10. In the second half of Romans 10, the Apostle Paul teaches about the indispensible role of preaching the Word of Christ. Salvation is only realized when individuals call upon the name of the Lord Jesus (10:13), and the name of the Lord Jesus is only heard through the vehicle of preaching and teaching (10:14,15).
Monday night I stated and shattered (OK–that’s a bit over-stated) two myths related to Bible study.
Myth #1–The Bible is so difficult to understand that only highly skilled theologians with technical training can deal with the Scriptures.
The Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages believed exactly that. Average Christians like myself (the people in the pew) did not possess a copy of the Scriptures. Most of us could not read. The majority of us who could read could not read the official language of the academy and the church–Latin. It was a Dark Age. It was amazing, however, what transpired when Christians throughout Europe held in their hands a translation they could understand. Lives and nations were transformed! That continues to happen in our day when believers read and study God’s Word!
Myth #2–The Bible is boring.
This isn’t even close to reality. Anyone who makes such a statement hasn’t spent any time within the pages of God’s Word. Sixty-six books by some twenty authors covering the creation of the world to the destruction of that very same world in the future! It is filled with amazing stories of weak individuals encountering a strong God who reveals Himself in three persons–Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I have been a Christian for twenty-five years. The Bible has yet to bore me. It never will. The more I read and study it, the more I learn about God and about so many other subjects!
In closing, let me invite you to enjoy this beautiful time of the year. More importantly, enjoy God’s Word! Spend time in the Bible regularly, if not daily. The reward is well worth the effort.
Tonight, I thank God that I can understand the Bible and that the Bible is not boring!
If you have a moment, read the passage below:
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her?For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Our pastor preached from that passage this morning. His points were as follows:
Design–Our bodies were created by God (Gen. 2; Ps. 139) and for God. “Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:13). We were created to glory in God (Ps. 34:8) and glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). Sexual purity results from principle rather than pragmatism (“How then could I do this great evil and sin against God”? [Gen. 39:9]).
Dependence–As believers in Christ, we are spiritually united to Christ. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (1 Cor. 6:15) All who are joined to the Lord are one in spirit with Him (6:17). This morning Pastor Wayne stated, “It’s not a superficial relationship.” Indeed! Although union with Christ is incomprehensible, it is a reality. Striving to understand our inseparable connection with Jesus is a guard against impurity (“Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be!” [1 Cor. 6:15])
Dwelling–God lives within His people. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…?” (6:19) As a result, God goes with us everywhere we go. Thus, He goes with us to every image we search, every website we visit. We are literally searching and surfing with the Savior. I suppose that means that the image above (“Caring for God’s Laptop”) is quite appropriate. I need to care for God’s property–His body (that’s me) and His computer (the Dell I am using). And, I need to do so knowing He is with me–all the time.
Jodi and I are members of an ever-shrinking minority: a couple who remained pure in our relationship until our wedding night. However, we reside in a culture filled with temptation. Within seconds, our fingers can find porn. It is a different world for today’s young people than it was for me! But being middle-aged does not immunize me from temptation. That’s why I am so appreciative of my pastor’s sermon this morning! It’s a very short sentence, but we all–especially men–need to hear it on a regular basis: