Tuesday, October 31, 2006
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross."
- Paul's Letter to the Colossians, 2:13-14
By Ramone - October 29-30, 2006
On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther essentially started the Protestant Reformation. He had been a Catholic monk, priest and teacher, but he saw problems in the church's teaching. Mainly, you could pay a lot of money and the priest would declare, "Your sins are forgiven," etc. Luther studied what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans & Galatians and he learned that we are saved by "faith, not by works" (by believing in God's grace as opposed to what we do).
So, on October 31, he posted a list of 95 things that were wrong with the Catholic teaching -- 95 things that disagreed with the Bible. He nailed the list to the church door in Wittenburg. When the people & the leaders saw it, it caused a lot of discussion and argument. The main article of Luther's belief, the rock which he stood on, was justification by faith. Because he made his protest using the Bible, he set a standard of the supremacy of Scripture over church teaching & institutions.
This last Sunday, I visited a Lutheran church with my wife & her sister. It was my first visit to a Lutheran church, and I'm not used to the older style. But it was nice. God was there, and I was blessed to sing "A Mighty Fortress" at the end in Japanese. In fact, I had completely forgotten that we were nearing the end of October and that this would be Reformation day! It was a nice treat.
To explain the occasion to my wife & her sister, I wrote most of the summary above. But you know, a bunch of words aren't very easy to jump into, especially if they're in another language, so my wife didn't read it right away. I took the piece of paper back, and over the words, I drew a picture of Luther nailing the list to the church door. That instantly rang a bell in Yoko, because I'd told her the story before. So she read it and then shared it with her sister, translating it into Japanese. When I got home I began a larger version of the picture, and then the next day finished a second version with the text from Colossians. (Click here to see the original sketch)
I had wanted to put a text from Galatians (perhaps 2:16) or from Romans (around 3:21ish), since Luther's profound points were mostly made from those two books. However, the Colossians text (2:13-14) summarized everything better.
And surprisingly, I hadn't noticed the "nailing" theme. Really, the "works" Luther was protesting represented a new kind of "Law" ... it mattered little whether the Law was the Old Covenant or a new kind of "church law", the effect was still the same: it forgot that God had nailed the Law to the Cross in His Son. What Luther essentially was doing was re-nailing the Law back to the Cross! He was declaring that the works of man were finished in the Son's perfect sacrifice. This is the Gospel. And this freedom from Law is especially moving for me as a Former-Adventist, because I was raised in a church that had also resurrected the Law, and in seeing what Luther did (rather, what Christ did), I see the "posting" of the notice of my freedom. (^_^)
I praise God because He did not allow the knowledge of what His Son accomplished to be forgotten. I praise Him for resurrecting it and "re-forming" us around the more-than-sufficient sacrifice of His precious Son. Yet I grieve at the divisions in the Church all over the earth. I celebrate the Gospel---of Christ's sacrifice---and I am so, so thankful He kept it alive! But I mourn for those who do not know, and with Christ I pray for the day when we all can love one another in sight of His awesome love for us.
[Why did I call this "re-formation"? See the comment below!] (^_^)
See also: "Happy All Hallows Eve!"
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
By Ramone - September 29, 2006
I thought of this picture when I was remembering something the Lord made me smile about the night before. I remember some short years ago I was praying with a friend who had left a particular church because of a sensing that the Spirit was being grieved. We were travailing in prayer for the church, and I remembered being given a word from 2nd Kings, "Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left."
God was calling us to pray for the people who were honestly seeking Him & loving Him. At that time, things looked pretty difficult & hopeless in the church. But now today, years later, lots is happening! There is still a spiritual battle going on for that church, but the "remnant" has grown and is stronger and more unified before! They are praying together, studying together, and learning together.
God, You warmed my heart with this!
I had been feeling hopeless about the idea of "only a remnant" being left, but no! "Remnant" is powerful!! It was right that we should pray for them, but it didn't need to be as hopeless as I felt about things in my mind. The "remnant" has grown larger... or rather the remnant that prayed (which especially includes us) has interceded, and things have changed! At that time it was not finally finished (and it still is not yet finished).
But I've learned this: Pray when He leads! Seek His face & His view of the situation---the view from His heart.
Thanks Jesus. Amen.