What I Read Online – 10/29/2011 (a.m.)

    • But Luther’s greatest challenge would come with the Catholic debater Johann Eck in June of 1519, whom Luther called “that little glory-hungry beast.” Eck brought the real issue to the table: who had final authority, God’s word or the pope?
    • Suddenly, the gospel became good news. Previously Luther understood iustitia dei (the righteousness of God) as God punishing sinners in his justice and avenging anger. God’s righteousness was bad news, condemning Luther no matter how many good works he did. Luther, therefore, hated God. However, Luther came to realize that the righteousness of God referred to in Romans 1:17 is revealed in the gospel, for the righteous will live by faith. God’s righteousness was no longer to be feared but a gift to be received by faith in Christ, that sinners, even the worst of sinners, might be counted righteous before God.
    • Moreover, the righteousness that God demands is not something we can earn, but rather it has been earned for us in Christ. What we need is not a righteousness of our own but an alien righteousness, imputed or credited to us by God. Here lay what Luther understood as the “joyous exchange.” Christ has taken our sin while we have received his righteousness.
    • In 1521 Luther was summoned to Worms for an imperial council before Charles V. At Worms, on April 17, 1521, Luther was told he must recant. After thinking it through for a day, Luther returned and declared: “Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, plain and unvarnished: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they often err and contradict themselves, I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. May God help me. Amen.”
    • Does Reformation theology matter today? Absolutely. It is tempting to think of the Reformation as a mere political or social movement. In reality, however, the Reformation was a fight over the evangelical gospel itself. The reformers argued that God’s free and gracious acceptance of guilty sinners on the basis of the work of Christ alone is at the heart of the gospel.
    • First, for Luther justification by faith alone is the article by which the church stands or falls. Today, however, many question and outright reject the centrality of justification.
    • Second, there is a strong push in our present day either to return to Rome or join Rome as evangelicals and Catholics together.
    • But as Michael Horton has recently argued (and R. C. Sproul before him), the Reformation is far from over. “There has been no material change in the Roman Catholic position on the issues that led to the excommunication of the Reformers. Even the Joint Declaration overcame the central doctrine of controversy only by embracing a Roman Catholic definition of justification as forgiveness and actual transformation (i.e., sanctification).” Rome continues to reject the evangelical affirmation of justification by grace alone through faith alone. I agree with Horton when he states that it is not about Luther, it is about the gospel.
    • He put together an initial list of biographies, published the list in the church bulletin, stocked the church bookstore with the titles, and began a year of discussing and promoting biographies with his church.
    • But in our attempts to summarize the main contours of the gospel, we should remember that we are not the first generation of Christians to wrestle with this question.  We are not the first Christians to consider how broad or how narrow to define “gospel.”  We are not the first Christians to ask how the four Gospels relate to the one gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are not the first Christians to make distinctions between the gospel and other aspects of God’s revelation.
    • The gospel is about Christ—his life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.  It is not, first and foremost, about us.  At the same time, the gospel announcement includes, imbedded within it, the good news of Christ’s work on behalf of sinners.  To put it in terms of systematic loci, the person of Christ cannot be separated from the work of Christ.
    • John Calvin (1509–1564) is easily the most important Protestant theologian of all time and remains one of the truly great men who have lived.
    • [Children in a grace-based family] are accepted as sinners who desire to become more like Christ rather than be seen as nice Christian kids trying to maintain a good moral code. Grace is committed to bringing children up from their sin; legalism puts them on a high standard and works overtime to keep them from falling down.

       

      Grace understands that the only real solution for our children’s sin is the work of Christ on their behalf. . . .  Legalism uses outside forces to help children maintain their moral walk. Their strength is based on the environment they live in. Grace, on the other hand, sees the strength of children by what is inside them—more specifically, Who is inside them.

    • Reacting to what other churches are doing wrong is not the same as pursuing what is biblically right.
    • Pastors and music leaders need to teach more on the place of music, affections, and expressiveness in our gatherings.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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About Joe Fleener

Lover of Christ & His Gospel, Husband to Mandy, Father to three wonderful children, Servant to the Local Church, Bible College Lecturer
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