Archives For Martin Luther

Reformation Day and the EFCA

Greg Strand – November 1, 2016 2 Comments

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a 33 year-old monk who served as a Roman Catholic priest and a theology professor, nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Although there were precursors to the Reformation, this date is often considered the beginning of the Reformation.

The heart of the Reformation, Protestantism, and Evangelicalism is found in Theses 1 and 62:

Thesis 1: When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.

Thesis 62: The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is foundational to everything. And the first manifestation of the gospel in one’s life is repentance and humility.

Here are a few brief articles on the Reformation that will inform, instruct and edify.

Stephen Nichols, What is Reformation Day All About?

Tim Chester, 10 Things You Should Know about the Reformation

Justin Taylor, Looking at Wittenberg in the Time of Martin Luther

John Piper, Why Do We Celebrate the Protestant Reformation?

Sam Storms, 10 Things You Should Know About the Protestant Reformation

Andrew Wilson, The Word Did Everything

Ryan Reeves, What Exactly Are Indulgences?

Chris Castaldo, Pope vs. Pope: What Does the Catholic Church Really Think about Martin Luther?

Next year we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses. To celebrate this occasion, the focus of our upcoming Theology Conference, February 1-3, 2017, will address this theme: Reformation 500: Theology and Legacy – God’s Gospel and the EFCA

Registration is now open, so I encourage you to register today.

There will be a number of forthcoming posts addressing the various messages of this excellent Conference.

Biblical Theology

Greg Strand – November 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Credo Magazine, a relatively new on-line magazine, is an excellent resource. The most recent issue has been published with the theme “What’s the Big Idea Story?: Why Biblical Theology Should Matter to Every Bible-Believing Christian.”

It is introduced in the following way:

When the sixteenth-century Reformation erupted, one of the alarming dangers that became blatantly obvious to reformers like Martin Luther was the pervasiveness of biblical illiteracy among the laity. It may be tempting to think that this problem has been solved almost five hundred years later. However, in our own day biblical illiteracy in the pew continues to present a challenge. Many Christians in our post-Christian context simply are not acquainted with the storyline of the Bible and God’s actions in redemptive history from Adam to the second Adam.

With this concern in mind, the current issue of Credo Magazine strives to take a step forward, in the right direction, by emphasizing the importance of “biblical theology.” Therefore, we have brought together some of the best and brightest minds to explain what biblical theology is, why it is so important, and how each and every Christian can become a biblical theologian. Our hope in doing so is that every Christian will return to the text of Scripture with an unquenchable appetite to not only read the Bible, but comprehend God’s unfolding plan of salvation.

Since you are committed to the inerrancy and authority of the Bible, you also ought to be interested in biblical theology. This will be an excellent resource to aid in your understanding of “what biblical theology is, why it is so important, and how each and every Christian can become a biblical theologian.”

 

Last week we celebrated Reformation Day, the day that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg door. I am prolonging the remembrance and celebration by a few days, including one more post on another blessing to the church that occurred because of the Reformation.

Though Luther was the one who posted the 95 Theses, there were pre-Reformers (Wycliffe, Hus, etc.) and there were also other Reformers God used in great ways. (Note it was God that used these men in great ways, and part of the reason for these men’s greatness is because they knew that!) Another one of those was John Calvin.

Both Luther and Calvin were not only committed to the authority of the Bible, and because they were committed to God and His Word, they were also committed to the church and its reformation. Note this well: their understanding of and commitment to God, the Bible and the gospel, led them to reform the theology and the practices of the church. This expression captured their commitment that “the church is reformed and always [in need of] being reformed according to the Word of God” (ecclesia reformata et semper reformanda).

One of the major elements of the church and its practice, its liturgy, that was transformed was music and corporate singing. T. H. L. Parker, John Calvin (London, 1975), 87, notes the following about how its practice was grounded in the gospel and from this biblical/theological foundation it had a gospel-prompted response.

Nothing is more characteristic of Reformation theology, and few parts of Reformation Church activity have been so neglected, as the congregational singing. It was far from being a pleasant element introduced rather inconsistently into a service otherwise ruled by a sombre view of life. We have already seen that in 1537 one of the four foundations for the reform of the Church was congregational singing. . . . We have seen in effect that Calvin placed singing at the heart of his theology of the Church. The reason is not far to seek. To put it with the utmost simplicity: The Church is the place where the Gospel is preached; Gospel is good news; good news makes people happy; happy people sing. But then, too, unhappy people may sing to cheer themselves up.

A few questions to ponder:

  • Is the gospel of Jesus Christ foundational to your theology and practice?
  • Does the gospel form and reform your thoughts and practices?
  • Do you proclaim the gospel in word and live under its authority in life?
  • Do you sing?

 

Trust Christ, Not Your Conscience

Greg Strand – October 24, 2013 Leave a comment

So now, turn from your conscience and its feelings to Christ, who is not able to deceive.  My heart and Satan, however, who will drive me to sin, are liars. . . . You should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the word which the Lord, who receives sinners, preaches to you. . . . Therefore, you are able to fight with your conscience by saying, ‘You lie.  Christ speaks the truth, and you do not.’

Martin Luther, quoted in Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther (Philadelphia, 1966), 59.

Luther’s Defense Against Satan

Greg Strand – September 12, 2013 Leave a comment

“When the devil accuses us and says, ‘You are a sinner and therefore damned,’ we should answer, ‘Because you say I am a sinner, I will be righteous and saved.’  ‘No,’ says the devil, ‘you will be damned.’  And I reply, ‘No, for I fly to Christ, who gave himself for my sins.  Satan, you will not prevail against me when you try to terrify me by setting forth the greatness of my sins and try to bring me into heaviness, distrust, despair, hatred, contempt and blasphemy against God.

“On the contrary, when you say I am a sinner, you give me armor and weapons against yourself, so that with your own sword I may cut your throat and tread you under my feet, for Christ died for sinners. . . . As often as you object that I am a sinner, so often you remind me of the benefit of Christ my Redeemer, on whose shoulders, and not on mine, lie all my sins.  So when you say I am a sinner, you do not terrify me but comfort me immeasurably.’”

Martin Luther, commenting on Galatians 1:4, “. . . the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins.”