Flashback Friday: The Reformation And Galatians

Originally posted June 27, 2017:

Whittenberg DoorThe Lord used the apostle Paul to bring the Gospel to the gentiles in Galatia. Sadly, after he left that region, representatives of a group known as the Judaizers descended on that fledgling church, teaching that they needed to augment their faith in Christ by following Jewish law. They especially insisted that gentile converts undergo the rite of circumcision.

Paul was infuriated that the church he had founded had so quickly abandoned the Gospel of faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross in favor of a counterfeit gospel that required human effort to assure salvation. He wrote a scathing letter, scolding them for adulterating the Gospel with doctrines of men. We see the reasons for his frustration most clearly articulated in Chapter 5 of his epistle to the Galatians.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! ~~Galatians 5:1-12 (ESV)

I imagine Martin Luther found this passage helpful as he broke free from the demands of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther rightly saw that  Rome’s elaborate system of sacraments, Purgatory, Indulgences and Papal authority produced a gospel quite different from the Good News that Jesus Christ fully paid for the sin of whoever believes in Him by His death on the cross. Like Paul, Luther sought to turn Christians back to focusing on Christ’s work instead of imagining that they could supplement it through their cooperation.

Notice specifically Paul’s firm assertion that a Christian who supplements his faith in the Lord by depending on legalistic rituals actually nullifies the effects of faith in salvation through Christ’s work on the cross. At that point, a person essentially declares that salvation ultimately lies in our power, not in what Christ accomplished on our behalf.

The sacramental system of the Roman Catholic Church, despite their denials, easily parallels the false teaching of the Judaizers. As a matter of fact, the Judaizers claimed to follow Christ, just as the Roman Catholic Church does. In many respects, the Judaizers presented themselves as genuine Christians, thereby convincing the Galatians to accept their doctrinal error. Not surprisingly, then, the Catholic Church managed to convince Christians of similar errors.

But Paul’s firm refutation against the system of righteousness by works enabled Luther and the other Reformers to stand against Rome’s numerous conditions for salvation. Just as Paul proclaimed that circumcision had no bearing on anyone’s standing before God, so the Reformers proclaimed that sacraments couldn’t add to what Christ had already done. The Reformers returned to the Biblical teaching that Christ Jesus fully satisfied the Law by dying as our substitute.

Roman Catholicism gets some doctrines right, such as the Trinity, but it adds conditions for salvation in much the same way that the Judaizers did. These conditions made humans responsible for sustaining their salvation.

Human centered salvation, however, takes the glory away from the Lord Jesus Christ. It demands that He share His glory with us. Paul recognized that danger among the Christians in Galatia, and he refused to tolerate such a corruption of the Gospel! He therefore set a pattern for the Reformers to follow once they could read God’s Word and understand that Rome had corrupted the Gospel. His passion for Jesus Christ to receive all the glory inspired the Reformers to also develop that passion.
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It’s October, So It’s Fashionable To Write About The Reformation

Reformation

Today I read two blog posts that talked about the Protestant Reformation. You’ll find both of them in the upcoming Saturday Sampler, so I’ll let you anticipate reading them for a few days. If you’re new to church history and/or Reformed Theology, these articles will help you get a basic understanding of the foundational issue that triggered this world changing movement. If you’ve been around Reformed Theology for a while, you’ll appreciate the reminder.

From November 1 to September 30 each year, I think we forget about the Protestant Reformation. So many contemporary concerns capture our attention. Goodness knows, Beth Moore’s Twitter feed alone creates Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Was It Really Worth All That?

Originally published July 18, 2017:

John Reading Tyndale Bible

Anyone can access the story of William Tyndale by doing a simple Google search or by reading Stephen J. Lawson’s book, The Daring Mission of William Tyndale. I’m quite confident that others can narrate his contribution to the Protestant Reformation more accurately, and certainly more eloquently, than I could.

Nevertheless, I want to offer a brief outline of Tyndale’s exploits, simply for the sake of showing you what the Reformers sacrificed in order to restore God’s Word to Christians.

Tyndale (b. 1494 – d. 1536) was an accomplished linguist, with impeccable credentials for any sort of translation work. As he grew in his exposure to the writings of Erasmus (a Roman Catholic who made the Greek New Testament available) and Martin Luther, he developed Continue reading

1517 Was Cool And All, But What Does It Have To Do With Me?

Ancient ScriptureLeslie A left a comment on yesterday’s blog post stating that her articles on the Protestant Reformation were also pretty much ignored by her readers. Okay, so I have assurance that my writing skills weren’t the reason my Reformation articles went over like a lead balloon.  There’s a modicum of comfort in Leslie’s comment, weird though that may  be.

I love my blogger friends!

As I thought about her comment (or more accurately, the apathy toward history that seems to characterize most people in our century), I couldn’t help wondering if the self-absorbed nature of our post-modern culture has something to do with it. Sure, we’re concerned about the myriad of problems in today’s church.  After all, that’s the church we Continue reading

It’s Not About John Calvin

Blue Twirl Flip BorderChristians outside the Reformed tradition frequently accuse those of us who embrace Reformed Theology of following John Calvin rather than worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ.  Perhaps our willingness to accept the Calvinist label,  contrasted with their general unawareness that they follow the teachings of Jacobus Arminius, causes them to make this mistake.  And very few will call themselves Arminians.

Most often, Arminians simply don’t know how much of their theology derives from teachings that Arminius began. Yet accusing Arminians of following Jacobus Arminius instead of following their understanding of Scripture would be absolutely unfair, as well as showing an ignorance of church history. Just as Calvin’s approach to doctrine didn’t reach full development until the Synod of Dort, so the Five Articles of Remonstrance weren’t drafted until the year after Arminius died.

I disagree with the Five Articles of Remonstrance based on my understanding of the Bible, in much the same way that Christians in the Arminian camp disagree with the Five Points of Calvinism that the Synod of Dort developed in response to the Five Articles. Although I pretty much subscribed to Arminian thought (without knowing I was an Arminian) for over three decades, my Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: November 18 — November 24

Reflecting Balls Sampler

I’m not going to tell you why Clint Archer contributes Moths & Roaches: Responding to the Light to The Cripplegate this week. I want your curiosity to bug you until you read it.

Those of us who lean to the right politically should pay attention to Tim Bates’ Judge the Left Rightly in Things Above Us. He masterfully helps us subjugate our political affinities to the authority of Scripture.

Pyromaniacs features Hohn Cho’s insightful post, Voting and the 2018 Elections. Okay, it’s lengthy (even by Pyromaniacs standards). But he makes several important points that Christians need to contemplate. A few of his thoughts might even offer you some refreshment and encouragement.

As part of a series he’s writing for Abounding Grace Radio, R. Scott Clark discusses the Canons of Dort (5): God Ordains Means To Call His Elect. As a Reformed Baptist, I would add only that God’s means also includes personal  evangelism, a task that every believer should perform. Other than that amendment, I completely agree with Clark.

Writing from Australia (which legalized same sex marriage only last year), Stephen McAlpine shows us the rapid fallout Australian Christians now face. I’m the bad guy? How did that happen? chronicles the increasing persecution to people who dare to stand for a  Biblical view of human sexuality. I wonder, reading his words, if American Christians have become desensitized to the sexual revolution.

For a truly helpful explanation of baptism, see Tom’s post, RE-baptized??? What’s that all about? on excatholic4christ.

Please read Elizabeth Prata’s Movie Review – American Gospel: Christ Alone in The End Time. I haven’t watched the movie yet, but Elizabeth’s review gives me the extra nudge I need. See what you think.

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Saturday Sampler: October 28 — November 3

Symetry Sampler 03

Did you celebrate Reformation Day on Wednesday? Sadly, many evangelicals (if they even know what Reformation Day is) don’t see the Reformation as having any bearing on their lives. Thankfully, The Cripplegate features Clint Archer’s 3 Ways October 31, 1517 Affects You Life Today as a means of showing us that history really does impact our daily lives.

I usually wince a little when I read Growing 4 Life because Leslie A applies truth like an antiseptic. Of course, antiseptics are necessary in halting dangerous infections. The Expedient Lie forces us to examine how we answer awkward questions. Her observations sting only until they bring the sweet healing of repentance.

Reformation21 features The Statement on SJ&G Explained: Article 9, Heresy by Justin Peters. Demonstrating the deterioration of mainline denominations due to egalitarian beliefs and practices, Justin warns that a seemingly minor relaxation of Biblical principles now can have devastating consequences in the future.

Who wouldn’t want Free A’s And No Homework? SharaC writes about the harmful consequences of such policies on Into the Foolishness of God.

You’ll find that Michelle Lesley has more than one interesting perspective in Throwback Thursday ~ Band-Aids vs. Chemotherapy: Why Suffering Women are Drawn to False Doctrine and 7 Things We Can do to Help. I love her practical application of Scriptural principles.

Jason K. Allen’s 3 Questions for Christians on Social Media appears in For The Church as a welcome challenge to think carefully before we click or tap that “Send” button. Oh boy, do we need to implement his advice!

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