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Reformation Sunday

Sunday, October 29, 2006

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany. While the 95 Theses were originally written in Latin and designed as a challenge to debate, they were soon translated into the common German tongue and the flames of the Reformation had begun.

Surely, Martin Luther never expected the results that came from his simple act, but God chose to use it and a great work of God was done throughout the continent as people were called back to a more Biblical view of Christianity.

Reformation Sunday is a great opportunity to teach important truths. Unfortunately, many in Fundamental circles fail to use this opportunity and for many this day goes right on by without so much as a thought about what God began in Germany in 1517.

Last year for Reformation Sunday, I preached a message that dealt with the Five Solas of the Reformation. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Christos (Christ Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) and Sola Dei Gloria (Glory to God Alone). The message was very well received as we looked at these important truths - examining the historical context as well as the Biblical support.

This morning, I went a little different direction for Reformation Sunday. Rather than focusing on the specifics of the Reformation, I instead used the backdrop of the Reformation to urge us to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3 or Jude 1:3 depending upon your preference and the preference of your computer Bible program).

As Luther stood up and contended for the faith and against the error of his day, we are called to do the same today. It is not enough to rejoice and admire those who have fought before, we must ourselves take a stand and be willing to fight for the faith.

I dealt with the charge to contend for the faith - that it was needful and an exhortation (and that similar charges repeatedly appear throughout Scripture). I wonder if sometimes the reason we need such strong words about contending for the faith is because it is to easy to "go along to get along" and we live in a Rodney King "Why Can't We All Just Get Along World" that values tolerance as THE Supreme Virtue (unless, of course, the toleration is being asked for Biblical Christianity).

I also dealt with the characteristics of our contention for the faith - primarily focusing on the word "epiagonizomai" and its roots - "agonizomai" and "agon". It is a great study some time to think about how God tells us to contend. (It is also a challenging thought to think through the Paul's use of this concept to describe the prayer life of Epaphras for his people - see Colossians 4:12).

Lastly, we considered the content of our contention - it is to be for "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." It is important that when we are contending, we are contending for the faith, not just that we have a contentious personality or that we are always fighting over our pet peaves or hobby horses. It is also important that we are willing to fight in the arena that is currently under attack. The sale of indulgences is an issue that doesn't really affect anyone that I personally know right now, but Luther contended against that error of his day and God used that to bring about much greater Biblical change. We need to be willing to contend for the faith in the areas that are under attack today - whether that is Boyd's Open Theism, a seeker-sensitive mentality that designs church services to please the lost rathrer than to please God, or an 1-2-3 pray after me mentality that teaches a false and cheap repentance-free Gospel.

Anyway, we enjoyed our Reformation Sunday. I pray that yours went well, as well.

Just my thoughts,