This is the most-viewed reel I have ever shared on Instagram! The Bible isn’t a bunch of “once upon time” stories but they are actual events at actual moments in history. Check out how Jesus verifies the historicity of the Bible.
“All obedient believers are near akin to Jesus Christ. They wear His name, bear His image, have His nature, are of His family. He loves them, converses freely with them as His relations. He bids them welcome to His table, takes care of them, provides for them, sees that they want nothing that is fit for them: when He died He left them rich legacies, now He is in heaven He keeps up a correspondence with them, and will have them all with Him at last, and will in nothing fail to ‘do the kinsman’s part’ (Ruth 3:13), nor will ever be ashamed of His poor relations, but will confess them before men, before the angels, and before His Father.” —Matthew Henry
When God was about to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt, the last event that displayed His power is now remembered as the Passover. It was the night that anyone who followed God’s command to sacrifice a perfect lamb and apply the lamb’s blood to the doorposts of their house was spared His judgment. In other words, His judgment passed over that house.
How did an Israelite family know that God’s judgment had passed over them? Quite simply, their firstborn child was still alive the next morning.
But how do we know that God’s judgment has passed over us? Are there any visible signs?
Actually, God gives us two assurances that we have been saved from His judgment:
The inner witness of the Holy Spirit
The outward evidence of our new life in Jesus
The Apostle Paul talked about his inner turmoil when he tried to live a life he could control (note the prevalence of me, I, and my, and the absence of any mention of Jesus in Romans 7:14-24). His bottom line conclusion—O what a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
But then he discovers the power of Christ: Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord, and as a result of this he discovers…
there is no more condemnation
there is no more death
there is no more hostility
there is no more fear
there is now life
there is now freedom
there is now assurance of God’s love
How? By the Holy Spirit’s inner witness in his heart (see Romans 8).
With this inner witness, a new lifestyle (the outward evidence) begins to show, as Paul begins to live a brand new life. This brand new life on the inside shows on the outside. Paul says it’s a life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
So here’s the new cycle for a Christian that an assurance of salvation from God’s judgment, and gives an encouragement to live a life that glorifies Jesus our Savior:
The inner witness of the Holy Spirit assures me of God’s love ➞ I want to live a life that pleases Him ➞ the Holy Spirit internally approves or corrects my outward lifestyle ➞ I continue to live outwardly in a way that is showing more fruitfulness …. and on and on and on it goes.
All for the glory of God!
If you are a Christian, do you have that inner assurance? If you do, are you acting on it outwardly so that people can see the difference Jesus has made in your life?
Out of the Reformation came five sola statements—five statements that tried to bring people back to the purity of the gospel message. This week as I studied to prepare my message on sola fide (justification with God by faith alone), I was struck by how in need of another reformation we are today!
That shouldn’t be surprising, because satan is always trying to so sneakily get us off track. So he gets people believing that they don’t need faith in God … God is a myth … or if He does exist, He’s really not that involved in our individual lives. For these people, satan tries to get them to buy into this lie:
Works > Faith
In other words, what you can do for yourself is more important than the faith you can place in anyone (or in The One).
Some people might accept that the approach God is through faith, but then they feel they have to add something to their faith in order to stay in God’s good graces. These people have bought into the lie:
Faith + Works
And then there are some that go to the far extreme of thought that faith means utter inactivity on their part. They have received forgiveness from God, so now they can just sit back and enjoy the ride to Heaven. They’ve bought into satan’s lie:
Works ⊈ Faith
In other words, now that I have faith, I don’t have to work any more. Or even, the more faith I have the less work I have to do. (The mathematical symbol ⊈means faith is not a part of work, nor is work apart of faith.)
The Scripture is clear that you cannot buy your justification by working for it, nor can you keep it by adding works to your faith; however, faith does indeed require work for it to grow and mature.
The Westminster Confession says it this way:
Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.
The bottom line:
Sola Fide = Faith Works
Faith works in justification. Faith works in the atonement. Faith works in sanctification. Faith works in love.
Of all the other sola statements that came out of the Reformation, sola scriptura has to be one of the most foundational. Without a firm understanding of the truthfulness of God’s Word, all other doctrinal statements are without authority. Sola scriptura means that we use the Bible as our authoritative guide for everything in our lives.
Jesus confronted the religious leaders for their misuse and abuse of Scripture. The Sadducees had a tendency to ignore the parts of Scripture which didn’t fit their “theology.” The Pharisees, on the other hand, would over-exaggerate some Scriptures which would leave other passages dwarfed or forgotten.
In Matthew 23, Jesus took on both of these incorrect approaches. What I love is that Jesus didn’t share His opinion … He didn’t argue with them … He didn’t try to convince them to accept His viewpoint. Jesus just took them back to Scripture.
You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God (23:29).
Have you not read what God said to you (23:31).
David, speaking by the Spirt… says… (23:43).
When Jesus said, “You are in error,” the verb tense is the passive voice. This means it was something done to them, not something they did. These religious leaders were not purposely straying from Scripture, but by listening to men instead of God they allowed themselves to be lead astray.
That’s why this insight from Luke is so powerful:
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
This is great counsel for all of us. We should all listen to pastors and teachers, or read authors, through the filter of Scripture. We need to make sure we aren’t passively straying, and we do this by examining the Scripture.
On October 31, 1517, a sea-change in world history was begun. On that day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a church, challenging the traditions of organized religion which he believed had strayed far from the instructions in the Bible.
The Reformation had been launched.
I truly believe that we all must be students of history, partly because all of his story is His Story. When we study history, we can see how God is working out His Story.
Second, we also need to know our history because as George Santayana rightly said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
A third reason to (re)learn the thoughts brought out during the Reformation is for doctrinal strength. It’s important to know not only what why believe but why we believe it. And there are some valuable doctrinal truths in the history of the Reformation.
Finally, I believe an important part of learning is unlearning. Sometimes we accept something just because it’s been handed down to us. That is in large part what Luther and other reformers were challenging, and calling us to unlearn tradition and relearn what the Bible has to say.
So beginning this Sunday, October 7, we will be walking through the five Soladoctrinal statements the reformers taught. I am really looking forward to relearning and unlearning, and just outright learning the biblical truths of sola scriptura, sola Deo gloria, sola fide, sola gratia, and sola Christo.