Martin Luther had a role to play in the reformation as a seed planter. Luther wouldn’t live to see many of the fruits of discussions he had helped begin. He wasn’t a “finisher” in the reformation, he was a starter. He was used tremendously by God to restore and reform the church. Luther’s importance can be still felt today by anyone who participates in a community of Christian faith that seeks to rely on God’s Word rather than anything else as the highest authority in the church.
It’s October! Which means it’s the season of cider, pumpkin spice, and the glorious changing of forest colors. It is also the month when the European Reformation began.
There were many people, men, and women, that God used to shape the Reformation era in European history. During this time an entire continent experienced a tremendous struggle and opportunity to seek the Lord through his Word.
One of the most recognized people of the reformation era is Martin Luther. Luther, more than any other individual is recognized as the catalyzing force which launched the reformation. When marking the period of the Reformation, October 31 is remembered as the day the Reformation began. On that day in 1517, Luther nailed a document containing 95 statements of question and critique of the Roman church.
Protestantism is a direct result of this movement that began in 1517. Whether you are Congregational, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, Pentecostal, Episcopalian, Lutheran, or non-denominational, your historic roots have been influenced and shaped by the Reformation. Even if you are a part of the Roman church if you have ever read or heard anything from the Bible in your own native language that is only a reality because of the Reformation.
While only the most bookish of Christians will know any of the particulars of Luther’s 95 theses, it was the actions Luther (and other reformers) took that formed the memorable and ongoing legacy of the Reformation. More important than any of his individual 95 points, was the collective work and effort to point the church back to the scriptures.
While doctrinal distinctions abound among protestants, these smaller internal distinguishing points are only present because of a much larger action.
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By Peter Krol — 1 year ago
Reading your Bible saturates your mind and heart in the love of God for you, which will motivate you to even greater obedience in the future. Though you may not get a nugget of practical application right now, the good news will inflame your desire for such obedience in perpetuity.
I believe in practical application. Here are more than ten biblical reasons why you should do it. But the dangers are legion if you come to your Bible reading with nothing but practical application on your mind. You might rush—or even worse, skip!—your observation or interpretation for the sake of that practical nugget. Your application might come unmoored from the text and take you in exactly the wrong direction. You might fall into the well-worn path of failing to identify any applications beyond the Big Three.
And there is a major opportunity cost involved. Treat personal application as the only consistent outcome for your Bible reading, and you may simply miss out on these other benefits the Lord wishes for you.
1. Storing Up Now for the Coming Winter
A regular habit of Bible reading is worth maintaining, even when no urgent or timely application comes readily to mind, because you are depositing divine truth in the storehouses of your soul from which you can later make withdrawals. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:11). “My son, keep your father’s commandments … bind them on your heart always … When you walk, they will lead you … For the commandment is a lamp … to preserve you from the evil woman, from the the smooth tongue of the adulteress” (Prov 6:20-24).
We ought to consider the ant and be wise (Prov 6:6-11, 30:24-25), not only with respect to our work ethic but also with respect to our truth ethic. It is foolish to abstain from Bible reading because it’s not practical enough for today. When the time of temptation arrives, you will have an empty storehouse—an empty heart—with no stockpile of resources available to supply your resistance.
2. Receiving Comfort Amid Sorrow
It is true that suffering people need time and space to process. Yet may it never be that our “time and space” isolate us from the Lord, when they ought to bind us more tightly to him. The laments of the Bible are wonderful for giving us words when we don’t know what to say, and feelings when we don’t know what to feel. The Spirit who intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Rom 8:26) is the same Spirit who inspired the words of the prophets and apostles to give expression to such groanings (1 Pet 1:10-12).
By Terry L. Johnson — 5 months ago
Written by Terry L. Johnson |
Monday, July 4, 2022
The June 24 Dobbs decision is not a pro-life decision. It is a pro-constitution (in which there is no right to abortion) and anti-court decisions made by judicial fiat (like Roe v. Wade). It restores the question of abortion to the people and their elected representatives. It is the first check in what has been a tidal wave of victories for liberal, secular, progressive ideology stretching back over decades.
The June 24 reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision signals the first successful counterattack in the decades long war against reality. We might also designate it a war against women as women. At the heart of the progressive/liberal ideology is the intention to eliminate all distinctions between men and women in favor of typical male interests and inclinations. Men stereotypically prioritize career over family and sexual adventurism over sexual fidelity. Women, they say, must be able to do the same. Natural, biological, physiological, and emotional priorities of real women must be jettisoned for the superior (?) values of men. The transgender movement is the logical and absurd culmination of that trajectory: men (those with male bodies) can actually be women, and women (those with female bodies) can actually be men. The reality of biological sex (gender), that is unalterable in the real world, nevertheless, cannot be allowed to limit the “expressive self,” one’s own definition of what and who one is.
The roots of this conflict with reality can be found in the modern feminist movement. Women can never be equal with men, it is argued, if pregnancy is allowed to disrupt one’s aspirations. Men are able to participate in sexual promiscuity without consequences. Their futures, their plans are not at-risk when they recklessly consummate their lusts/desires. However, women may be hindered from getting their high school diploma, or their college degree, or promotion on the job because of an unwanted pregnancy. They are not free to fulfill their sexual lives like men are. Because in a post-Freudian world sexual fulfillment is the chief end of man, this biological reality, it is argued, is intolerable.
The only solution to this inequity is to grant women the right to terminate their pregnancies. Only then will they be able to pursue both sexual fulfillment as well as social and vocational success on equal terms with men. Thus, two monumental movements joined hands in common cause: the sexual revolution and the feminist movement. From these then flow their offspring: the full LBGTQ+ agenda.
What reality is being overlooked? Start with the obvious: the child targeted for abortion. Once conception takes place, there now exists in the real world a distinctive human being. It has a unique genetic code that differs from that of the mother and father. All that separates it from an adult human is time and nutrition. We all once were fetal humans.
Remarkably this reality is almost always ignored by the pro-abortion movement. Their entire argument is for the rights of the woman, her control over her own body, and so on. The rights of the unborn are dropped en toto. The human life developing in the womb simply doesn’t exist except as a thing to eliminate.
Is there more? Yes. The real-world differences between men and women are ignored. Men do not and cannot get pregnant. A human life cannot grow within a man. This most glorious of human phenomena is limited to women. He cannot provide the nurturing environment in which that development takes place. He does not and cannot develop emotion bonds with that developing life. He does not and cannot develop the maternal instinct to protect and provide for the child that is growing within her. No amount of philosophical sophistry can remove this most basic difference between men and women.
What this means is that women can never engage in sexual relations as recklessly as do men. This is true if for no other reason than the woman gets the abortion, not the man. She suffers the painful emotional, physical, and spiritual consequences of that abortion, he does not. Abortion may reduce some consequences of pregnancy (e.g., interference with one’s plans) but creates others at the same time. She suffers the sadness, the sorrow, the regret, and the feelings of guilt for killing the baby that would have been.
The June 24 Dobbs decision is not a pro-life decision. It is a pro-constitution (in which there is no right to abortion) and anti-court decisions made by judicial fiat (like Roe v. Wade). It restores the question of abortion to the people and their elected representatives. It is the first check in what has been a tidal wave of victories for liberal, secular, progressive ideology stretching back over decades. It will force the nation to discuss the differences between men and women, the biological and other consequences of sexual relations (even that there are consequences), what abortion actually is, and what is the best environment in which conceptions should take place (i.e., marriage), and children should be reared (with a mother and father).
We will join that discussion, and hope to see good come from it. When humanity wars against reality, reality always wins. Maybe this judicial counter-attack will make that fact more apparent.
Terry Johnson is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Ga.
By Larry Ball — 1 year ago
Christians do not need to adopt the Neo-Marxist theory of race as a social construct in order to do battle against the CRT of Neo-Marxism. It is better to recognize the truth that distinct races do exist in objective reality, and that good and bad attributes become characteristics of races as a result of the religion that dominates them. This includes both black and white.
After reading a number of books on Critical Race Theory (CRT) by evangelical and reformed authors, I have become convinced that sometimes good men get it wrong. Some of the writers I respect the most are saying that the existence of distinct human races is not real. It is just a social construct.
What is a social construct? It is a convention adopted by society that has no basis in objective reality. For example, Peter Pan is a social construct. We all know who he is, but he is not real. He exists in the mind for entertainment purposes. A dollar bill is a social construct. It only has value because society has given it value. In reality, it is only paper and ink.
Social constructs are usually identified with Neo-Marxist thinking. For example, Neo-Marxists say that binary sexual identification is not real. The concept of sex that separates humans into male and female is a social construct. They push the concept that, in reality, there are a multitude of sexes (they prefer the term gender). As another example, the traditional family is a social construct. The idea of a male and female parent with children is a convention created by society to oppress other legitimate families like those who have two males as parents.
I am hearing from my respected brethren that race is not a biblical term, and therefore the concept of race does not exist. At the same time, these same men will say that there is only one race, and that is the human race. The human race includes all of us because we all come from the same Adam. There is no difference between us other than the degree of melanin (pigment) in the skin.
It seems rather contradictory to me to assert that the concept of race is not real, but then to turn around and use the term race to describe all of the descendants of Adam. There are no races, but yet, there is one race.
It is true that the Bible does not use the word race in any English translation. More common terms are nation, tribe, clan, and peoples. However, the Bible does not use the term “banana” either, but that does not mean it is wrong to use the word banana. Historically, mankind has been divided into races. Three prominent races are whites, blacks, and Asians (with variations in-between). They have differed in more than pigmentation of the skin. They have been associated with not only the color of the skin, but with the texture of the hair, the shape of the eyes, and even in physical speed and agility. If you have ever watched a college NCAA basketball game, you will see what I mean. I don’t believe that speaking this way is racist. It may be more racist to avoid reality and to say that all athletes are the same in ability whether white or black. We need to learn to be honest.
Race has been associated with the word nations or peoples who have a common geographical boundary, a common language, and a common religion. This is certainly not necessarily true of our experience here in the United States, but our nation is a rather new experiment in societies, and it appears to be disintegrating rather quickly. The United States was once a Christian nation, and this common religion provided a basis for the unity of the various races among us. We have changed religions and therefore we no longer have any basis for peace. A nation without a common religion will not long endure, just as a nation without a geographical border or a common language will not long endure.
Now, although we all do descend from Adam, and we all are sinners needing a Savior, we do still exist as distinct races (who probably have more in common than not). Jeremiah identified the Ethiopian as a man who could not change the color of his skin (12:23). Just as important as noting the color of his skin, the prophet noted that the man was an Ethiopian (Cushite) who probably lived south of Egypt, and who could be identified with a nation that had geographical boundaries, a separate language, and a separate religion. In the New Testament the Ethiopian eunuch became a Christian, which certainly teaches us that the gospel came as a blessing for all nations and races.
The Book of Revelation speaks of the New Jerusalem as being a dwelling place for the nations and the kings of the earth (21:24). Nations will not disappear, even in the very presence of God himself. All the distinct nations along with their kings shall be one in Christ.
God allowed various distinctions to develop among the descendants of Adam. God loves diversity in colors, flowers, fruits, the two sexes, and even races. However, absent from most discussions today about race is the fact that nations (and often the distinct races that define them) will always adopt a particular religion. This religion will have the major impact on the character that nation. For example, while our white American forefathers were writing the very complicated United States Constitution, blacks in Africa, who were sold as slaves by blacks to white Europeans and Americans, could not read or write. Why? The grace of God! Christianity conquered the continent of Europe and not Africa.
Christians do not need to adopt the Neo-Marxist theory of race as a social construct in order to do battle against the CRT of Neo-Marxism. It is better to recognize the truth that distinct races do exist in objective reality, and that good and bad attributes become characteristics of races as a result of the religion that dominates them. This includes both black and white. Most of the average guys that I know in the pew think that this “Neo-Marxist social construct invention” is nonsensical. There is nothing to be gained by denying the obvious.
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.