Church Historian Phillip Schaff said of the Protestant Reformation:
“The Reformation of the sixteenth century is, next to the introduction of Christianity, the greatest event in history. It marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modern times. Starting from religion, it gave, directly or indirectly, a mighty impulse to every forward movement, and made Protestantism the chief propelling force in the history of modern civilization” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church).
Many of us might connect a 16th Century monk named Martin Luther, his 95 Theses, and a certain church door in Wittenberg, Germany to the beginning of the Reformation. How many of us know that Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on 31 October 1517 didn’t start the reformation, but that it ignited what had been smoldering for years? Most notably preceding Luther were; Oxford theologian John Wycliffe (1330-1384), Czech priest and scholar Jan Hus (c. 1369 – 6 July 1415), and Florentine Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola (1452–1498) all had grievances against the Roman Catholic Church of that period, many of which Luther shared. Nevertheless, Martin Luther is credited by most historians with starting the Protestant Reformation, and issues within the Catholic Church are credited as having been the primary causes of the Reformation, although there were others.
If you are interested in finding out more about the causes of the Reformation, just enter the question “What caused the Protestant Reformation?” into a good search engine and start reading. J
Perhaps even more important than the specific causes of the Reformation were the results commonly known as the “Five Solas”, which are summarized below:
1. “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone): Scripture alone is the only infallible source of divine revelation and the final authority for matters of faith and practice. Sola Scriptura does not mean that all truth is contained in the Bible (for example the Nicene Creed is widely accepted and recited within orthodox Christianity), but rather that all mankind needs to know for salvation is contained within its pages.
2. “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone): Salvation is the free gift of God to man. It is given by God's Grace alone and not through any merit on the part of the Christian.
3. “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone): We are judged righteous in the sight of God purely on the basis of our faith. The atoning sacrifice of Christ leads to righteousness being imputed to us as sinners through a legal declaration by God. This is often stated as Justification by faith alone.
4. “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone): Christ is the one Mediator between God and man and our salvation is accomplished only through His death and resurrection.
5. “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory): Every aspect of the Christian life is to be seen as giving glory to God. In essence, this “Sola” summarizes the other four.
Of course there were other results of the Reformation, however the 5 Solas were by far the most significant for Christianity.
Atheists either totally deny the existence of God or they claim they just don’t believe in God, or gods. I have met both types, however there are far fewer professing atheists who tell me that God doesn’t exist than those who merely tell me they just don’t believe in God. When it is suggested that to claim God doesn’t exist necessarily presupposes ‘all knowledge’, thoughtful God deniers will move into the ‘I just don’t believe in God’ camp.
We ask the above question because of what scripture tells us in the New Testament book of Romans, Chapter 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity. . . 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity. . . 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
Note the following points about men in the above text.
1. Men suppress the truth (by their unrighteousness). (v. 18)
2. They (men) knew God. (v.21)
3. They (men) exchanged the truth about God for a lie. (v.25)
If you read the rest of Romans 1, you will also find out what the results are when men exchange the truth of God for a lie, but those results are not the topic of this post. The point of this post is the original question “Does the atheist merely deny that which he knows is true?” If the answer is ‘yes’, should it inform how we discuss the existence of God with professing atheists? If that’s another ‘yes’, how should it inform our end of the dialogue? What might change in the way we discuss the issue of od’s existence?
Food for thought and discussion.
The most important witness you will ever have is the witness you are to your own family! This is a witness that cannot be delegated to someone else! You are (whether or not you choose to accept it) the disciple maker for those who share your DNA.
That is why we endeavor to “Foster in all members a primary concern for the spiritual well-being of their own families, and the recognition in God’s economy of the family as the basic worshiping community.”
If the family is not strong in the Lord, the Christian witness will be compromised. But if the family of faith is flourishing, this nucleus of the missionary molecule will be eternally effective as each member of the family shares a living faith with those the Lord will bring your way!
This brings the importance of family devotional time, Bible study, story telling and the like into a divine perspective. My children are in their forties. So my discipleship opportunities lay in complete retrospect. The one thing that proved to be the greatest impingement was time! Time can be a wicked taskmaster. For those who are (or have served) on active duty, know that our time (and location) may be controlled by someone else. This may lead us to believe that we do not have the time to be an effective disciple maker to our families. However, the One who created time will (if we ask) provide the time for us to do all the things He requires of us!
One of the ways you, as a CMF member, can be of encouragement to your fellow members is to share your family discipleship experiences. After all CMF is a mission agency for those serving in the military. We are here to help you fulfill your responsibility to your families and to those with whom you serve.
If you happened to be in the vicinity of Bangor Submarine Base, Washington, Vic Primeaux (Director of Ministries to or Coast Guard Forces and Families) stands ready to be help. If you are near Camp Lejeune, MCAS New River, North Carolina, Dick and Sue Price will be available. If you are near Camp Pendleton, California, Steve Blythe is there. Are you near Keesler AFB? Then Dr. Larry Pierce can help. Are you in Colorado? Then Bob Flynn, Dan Cartwright and a host of others are willing to be your guide. Our endeavor is to model ministry and to encourage you (the Praetorian) to engage in ministry.
When He was finished with the Creation, God rested. He created a method of rest for Israel that they ignored and for which they were taken into captivity. Now we, who are in Christ Jesus, have a new rest, “Sabbath Rest” where we may remain continuously. But what happens if we, like Israel, disobey and fail to enter into this rest? We become the counterfeit!
How can this be? Because when we rebel, we step away from the obedience of faith into self-will and sin! Though we may be able to present a highly reflective chrome exterior, in the light of the living Word of God everything is exposed!
The word translated “exposed” in the Biblical Greek is “τετραχηλισμένα” (transliterated: tetrachēlismena) which means, “To expose or lay open. The word was used of the bending back of the neck of wrestlers by their opponent. The bending back of the neck was used also on an animal to be slaughtered for an offering in order to expose the throat; hence, figuratively to lay bare or open.” (The complete word study dictionary: New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates) Therefore, we cannot pass off hypocrisy for sincerity but shall be judged by the Truth!
The last phrase, “him to whom we must give account,” is a play on words in the Greek. πρὸς ὃν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος (pros hon hemin ho logos): literally “to whom to us (is) the word.” The nuance in Greek: that is, the λόγος (Scripture) not only cuts deep, but our λόγος (account) will depend on how we respond to Jesus Christ by faith. In other words, our relationship to the λόγος (incarnate Word) will be the determining factor in the Day of Judgment. The word, “hemin” comes from the root word “ego.” Said another way, ego (me) comes face to face with Logos (the Living Word Himself, The Lord Jesus Christ!)
Lessons to be Learned:
1. Let us greatly reverence the Word of God.
2. Let us, whenever we feel ourselves dead, and especially in prayer, get close to the Word, for the Word of God is alive.
3. Whenever we feel weak in our duties, let us go to the Word of God, and the Christ in the Word, for power; and this will be the best of power.
4. If you need as a minister, or a worker, anything that will cut your hearers to the heart, go to this Book for it.
5. If we want to discriminate at any time between the soul and the spirit, and the joints and marrow, let us go to the Word of God for discrimination.
6. And lastly, since this Book is meant to be a discerner or critic of the thoughts and intents of the heart, let the Book criticize us. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)
The term imputation is used to designate any action or word or thing as reckoned to a person.
In doctrinal, or Biblical language there are three cases of imputation that summarize God’s plan of redemption for fallen humanity:
(1) The sin of Adam, who represented all of the human race, is imputed to all his descendants, i.e., it is reckoned as theirs, and they are dealt with therefore as guilty (Romans 5:12).
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (Rom 5:12)
(2) Our sins are imputed to Christ, i.e., he assumed our 'law-place,' undertook to answer the demands of justice for our sins. In all these cases the nature of imputation is the same (Gal 3:13; 2 Cor 5:21).
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (Gal 3:13)
21 For our sake he (God) made him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)
(3) The righteousness of Christ is imputed to them that believe in him, or so attributed to them as to be considered their own (Rom 3:21).
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Rom 3:21)
To those who would say that it’s not fair for God to impute Adam’s sin to his posterity, we must ask if it’s fair that he would impute our sin to his Son. If you are one of those, it’s something for you to think about. No matter how you answer that, remember that because of Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to us who believe, we are completely justified before a Holy God.
If we who have believed in Christ stand before God as sinners deserving of wrath, but justified by the righteousness of Christ, how is it possible that we could somehow ‘lose’ our salvation, or become ‘unjustified’?
Well, that’s a question deserving of its own consideration. For the moment, consider these three great imputations and let their truth sink deeply into your spirit. In doing so, you will have a grasp of God’s plan of redemption that many professing believers do not possess. And in this particular season, remember the words of the angel who visited Joseph concerning the child she was to bear:
21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21
“Christmas waves a wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” Norman Vincent Peale
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before You as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For You will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as You did when You destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire. For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” Isaiah 9:2-7 NLT
Christmas is the day each year when we celebrate the arrival of the eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God in this world. God come down as a man. I would have thought that such an arrival would have been witnessed by the priests and kings of the nation to whom this was promised. Would not all of Israel wish to celebrate with festivals of grandeur at the fulfillment of the promised messiah?
But when the right time came, God sent His Son, to buy freedom for us who were slaves, so that He could adopt us as His very own children (Galatians 4:4 paraphrase mine).
“And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 NLT
Instead, the God in whom, by whom, and through whom everything exists, and from whom the cherubim hide their faces, is born in a cave and is lying in a cattle feeder. A perfect time and a perfect way of His own choosing!
We could ponder a great many things about this amazing and wonderful demonstration of grace and humility. However, the one that screams out to me is that preserved for us in the First Epistle to the Church at Corinth:
“This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:25-29 NLT
By human standards this was a most ill-conceived event! For what would appear more weak or powerless than a newborn babe? God, in this apparent folly, did not choose the heralds of an earthly court to announce the arrival of His beloved Son. Rather he sent the angels (heavenly host—armies of heaven) to give this message to the cultural outcasts of this time ─ the lowly, roughhewn shepherds, lacking even a modicum of culture, men who spoke in terms that would probably make a sailor blush. This is who announced this glorious arrival of the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!
Let us then pause and enjoy Christmas knowing that it is the immeasurable, magnificent love of Christ that stooped to save the most vile of sinners—”The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.” Rejoice, O Sinner! For God’s love “goes beneath the deepest stain that sin could ever leave, redeeming souls to live again who will on Christ believe!”
Yes, He picked the outcasts of society who were despised by the world to announce the arrival of the weakest person of all, a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger, who even at that moment held the world together with His might and caused all things to exist.
“For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us.”
I certainly was not “wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful or wealthy” when the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see the salvation that is in God’s Son! Oh what joy fills my heart!
Maranatha! Oh come, Lord Jesus! Let this Christmas be the last before you return. The arms of the warriors are heavy from the fighting, and wives and families weep at home because of their long absence. We look forward to that day when “the boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire” and war will be no more.
“The LORD will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4 NLT
May Christ wave a wand over your world, dear brothers and sisters, as you celebrate Christmas. Hugs to all of you, from all of us!
December is here and soon the yuletide will be upon us. With it comes the day we set aside to celebrate the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. My mind has trouble grasping the full significance of this event. For on this day, in a time long since past, the Son of God set aside His Glory to become a man so that He could save us from our sin. He gave to us an eternal example of His life given completely to the will of the Father. The ultimate weapon used to win the ultimate war thus became absolute surrender.
Here then before us is the example of the Nativity—God lying in a stable midst the stench of the animals and the odor of our sin through the centuries. The first question that comes to your mind is, “what does that have to do with the title of this article?” I thought that it might be fitting as we celebrate Jesus’ first day on earth that we remember our first day with Him. Do you remember the day you met Jesus Christ? Do you remember the warmth of His sweet salvation as His Spirit swept over your soul like a mighty river. Do you remember with a sense of disappointment how that warmth faded with time? Often you have wondered why it was that your relationship, instead of deepening, has become lame and produces no fruit in your life. The answer, though not complicated, is far reaching. You wandered from the Highway of Holiness! You wandered from Him.
It appears as though it may now be the midnight hour in this age of grace, and all the while the church races headlong toward apostasy. The newspapers are replete with the witness of holding to a form of godliness yet denying the power thereof. For the believer still lives in a reality where temptations abound and Satan is active in the deception of the whole world and all its inhabitants. Within us resides a sinful nature that all too frequently resurrects itself.
So despite salvation we can find ourselves impotent toward sin’s power and our victory absent without leave. There is no repair shop that can fix this old man. There is no transformation operation that can remake him anew. He can only be put to death.
Beloved, you are God’s treasure! You are destined for that which is far greater than a temporary sojourn in happiness. Jesus has prepared for us a dwelling place that is Himself where we are to “abide.” We must see our abiding as an intimate connectedness like that of the branch to the tree. Have you ever seen a branch wander away from the trunk? If we “come to him” to “abide” we must also “take the yoke” lest we stray and make the ditch alongside the “highway of holiness” our home. Jesus cannot be Lord if we think we have the right to have our own way in the thousand things of life. If we say we are our own masters, the captains of our fate, then there can be NO blessedness NOR peace. Jesus said: “A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say. So why do you call me ‘Lord,’ when you won’t obey me?” “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads you into all truth.” (Luke 6:45-46, John 14:15-17 NLT) Jesus’ example was to forsake everything for the Father. The disciples’ example was to forsake everything to follow Christ. The Apostle Paul’s example was not only to “count all things to be loss” but he also “suffered the loss of all things.” (Phil 3:8 NASB) Warriors, this is absolute surrender. Paul declares, “For God is working in you giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him. (Phil 2:13 NLT) Since the Holy Spirit lives in us and is the provision to keep “my commandments” perhaps we ought to say, “Jesus, I forsake all to follow you.” This is NOT a passive thing (the ditch on the left of the highway) NOR is it an act of arrogance (the ditch on the other side). It is in the balance between Grace and Truth wherein we are delivered from sin’s penalty and power. We can then live in the hope of the day when we shall see Jesus and also be delivered from sin’s presence.
Well here we are, once again in the middle of the Christmas season. It seems appropriate to provide a reminder of Jesus’ Divine calling and mission. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, we tend to think of all sorts of things and neglect the fact that God sent His Son to us for a very specific reason that was revealed to Joseph:
“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." – Matthew 1:19-20
John Gill expressed it well:
He shall save – This expresses the same as the name, and on this account the name was given to him. He saves people by dying to redeem them; by giving the Holy Spirit to renew them (John 16:7-8); by His power in enabling them to overcome their spiritual enemies, in defending them from danger, in guiding them in the path of duty, in sustaining them in trials and in death; and He will raise them up at the last day, and exalt them to a world of purity and love.
His people – Those whom the Father has given to him. The Jews were called the people of God because he had chosen them to himself, and regarded them as His special and beloved people, separate from all the nations of the earth. Christians are called the people of Christ because it was the purpose of the Father to give them to him (Isaiah53:11; John 6:37); and because in due time he came to redeem them to himself (Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:2).
From their sins – This was the great business of Jesus in coming and dying. It was not to save people in their sins, but from their sins. Sinners could not be happy in heaven. It would be a place of wretchedness to the guilty. The design of Jesus was, therefore, to save them from sin.
Have you ever noticed how we tend to separate Christmas and Easter, the two greatest events on the Christian calendar? One is about the birth of our Savior and the other about his death and resurrection.
Somehow I suspect that in the mind of God such a separation has never existed. God knew the end from the beginning and everything in between.
Am I suggesting that we, as Christians, should dwell on Christ’s death when we celebrate his birth? Not at all. What I am saying is that in the midst of all the gift giving, tree decorating, carol singing and family gatherings we never forget the divine mission of the Christ child. For it is the remembering of that that mission - the Father giving the Son to save us from our sins - that the Christmas spirit reaches its fullest and deepest meaning in the human heart.
May God bless you this Christmas and throughout the coming year!
What an amazing encouragement here written that we cannot be separated from the love of God! However, let us look at the here listed forces that would attempt, each in their own way, to tear us away from the promise:
1. death nor life
2. angels nor demons
3. fears for today nor worries about tomorrow
4. powers of hell.
The enemy is real, our frailness is real, and hell is real! The necessity for us to live our lives one day at a time in Christ Jesus could no where be more apparent! If we do not enter into His Sabbath rest today as it was designed, then we will be absent of rest! If we do not "listen carefully to what we have heard" then we will drift today—perhaps imperceptibly! Though we should be able to say with conviction that neither death, nor the pains thereof, nor the fear of its coming can separate us from the love of God, it surely could, if we let it, separate us from His blessing and even prevent us from being a blessing to a lost and dying world! Even life can be the distraction if we are caught up in the love of this world (satanic system) and become encumbered by the weight of its fancy. We could be upside down in our mortgage, living above our means, cold in our relationships and in a word afflicted! We become deceived into paying homage to the god of this world because of our actions! Because of this we may be unfit for duty in the Kingdom to which we have been called. It would not be hard to consider the effects of the demons upon those whom they would try to afflict but what if we would push aside the worship of the Father, whom we have not seen, and instead worship angels perhaps that we have seen? Then too have we drifted from the course set for us to follow. Paul was explicit in his warnings about the battle unseen and how we must battle at the Throne Room of God's Grace in most Holy prayer having been clad in the Armor of God's Son, Jesus Christ our Lord!
This is where the ethereal meets the practical. The question raised should be, "Are we experiencing the victory?" Not only a victory but an abundant victory! If we are feeling defeat, perhaps the hope for victory is yet future because of discipline. Perhaps we are struggling with besetting sin. Yet in all these the Lord has provided for our victory if we are willing to follow Him! Obedience and victory or rebelliousness and defeat. No room in the middle here.