Summary: When Martin Luther hung his writings on the door of the church in Wittenberg, 500 years ago, everything in the church changed. This gave man a renewed purpose. Now all that we do is for the glory of God. It is all for God and God alone.
“For the glory of God”
It has been said that history repeats itself. Now I believe that to a point but I think that it is more accurate to say that people repeat the same mistakes in the same choices and the same decisions others have made before them and that’s why history repeats itself. Because people never seem to change.
The things people use to struggle with... They struggle with today. The questions people asked hundreds of years ago, they asked today which is why it is often good to look back in history to see what people did, what they learned from it and how we can be better today.
So in the past five weeks we have been going back 500 years... This month is the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation of the church. So we been talking about them not for the sake of a lesson in history but so that we can understand what the word of God says about how to follow Jesus. And what we have learned is that there were some followers of Jesus 500 years ago who went back and looked at how they were doing church, they looked at what the Scripture had to say and they looked at the way they were doing things and they said, hey, something doesn’t add up here. And as they studied closer what the early followers of Jesus had done, it changed to their entire outlook on life. It would change the way they did church and ultimately it would change the world.
On October 31, 1517, a Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 statements on the door to a church in Germany and it went viral. He posted it. He wrote three books and the ideas he presented were not new ideas; there are actually old ideas-right out of the Scripture. And that is what this series has been about... What does the word of God say in what does the truth of Scripture say and how do we get informed so we can be reformed? Because those truths were not just true 500 years ago-they are true today.
There were five major ideas. And they are sometimes referred to as the five solas. The word so law means alone. (latin). Here they are:
(1) Sola scriptura. Scripture alone is our authority. Men are not the ultimate authority. Church leaders are not the authority. The ultimate authority is Scripture. Scripture alone. The church doesn’t judge the Scripture. Scripture judges the church.
(2) Sola Gratia. Grace alone. Martin Luther grew up in a world that believed you had to work for your salvation. Because the world was so messed up and because we are so messed up you had to work it off in your lifetime. You had to do good things in order to work off the guilt of your sin. And if you didn’t, do enough in your lifetime to work off the effect of sin that you went to purgatory. And there, no one knew for how long, you would be purged from your sin. And you could help others and yourself while you were alive if you bought things from the church. Luther saw all of this and was furious and said according the Bible we could never do enough to earn our salvation. It is by grace alone. God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. The difference between the messages of religion and the message of Jesus, has always been wrapped up in the difference between the word DO and the word DONE. It is not about what you and I must do
(3) Christ Alone. Not a priest. Not a pope. Non-mass. I don’t need another mediator, I don’t need to pray to a saint, I don’t need to go to the mother of Jesus. It is through Christ and Christ alone that I made right with God. He does alone deserves my worship. Christ alone.
(4) Faith alone. We cannot earn it. We simply believe and receive it by faith.
The cry of the Reformation is that we are made right with God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone so says the Scripture alone. Now one more. And it is found in Romans. You could divide the book of Romans and the two parts. Romans 1-11 and 12-16. Just to give you a quick summary of the first 11 chapters:
• 1-3 Shut up. No excuses. No one bats 1000.
• 4-5 How can we be made right with God?
• 6-8 How do we live this out?
• 9-11 Heavy questions.
And then at the end of chapter 11, before he goes into the second half of the letter, he breaks out in a song. At this point he is like the man who has hiked for miles and miles and suddenly he comes upon the Grand Canyon in his mouth just drops open and he has no words. He is speechless. Now you can stand there and lecture about the Grand Canyon... Are you could just stand there and be overwhelmed by. Paul is standing there now and it’s like he says, can you even believe this?