Happy Reformation Day

The far, far lesser known holiday celebrated on October 31st is Reformation Day.  It is the remembrance of the day when Martin Luther, then a monk in a Roman Catholic church, protested the sale of indulgences to be made righteous before God.  His letter of complaint and essay of his position on man’s justification was nailed to the door of the Schlosskirche cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany which became known as the “95 Theses”.  The year was 1517 and the Roman Catholic Church was moving throughout Europe selling indulgences to raise money to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  The Roman Catholic theology stated that man was not justified and made righteous by faith alone, but that faith must be active in charity and good works to be saving faith.  So by extension, donating money to the church could contribute to one’s good works and thereby his salvation.  Luther asserted that since forgiveness is God’s alone to grant, the Catholic church was in error claiming that indulgences had the power to forgive sins.  Although Luther never intended to confront the church, the protest against Roman indulgences sparked a European shockwave that spread to all reached of the continent.  The new movement called the Reformation was fueled by such people as Luther, William Tyndale, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and John Knox and quickly spread like wildfire.  The Reformation liberated thousands of parishes from the chains of the Roman Catholic Theocracy and lead a restoration back to God’s Word as the only source of divine revelation.  The key points of the Reformation were established as the Five Solas: Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, by grace alone, faith alone, Sola Scriptura, scripture alone, Solus Christus, in Christ alone, and Sola Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.  These five “solas” became the battle cry of the reformation leaders and they were held dearly, even to the death.

From the Reformation sparked many new denominations of churches that we categorize as Protestantism.  These denominations developed from various Reformation leader such as Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, John Calvin, and others.  The Reformation forever changed the way the world views God and reads the Bible and we have so much to be thankful for from the brave men who stepped out of line to ask tough questions and challenge the daunting status quo.  Today, while the rest of the world is celebrating Halloween and dressing up as zombies or whores, maybe spend the evening reflecting on God’s power to awake the dead from the bondage of slavery and give new life, both to the soul and to the Church.  The Reformation was certainly one of the most important events in human history so let’s not easily forget it or take it for granted.  Peace.

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What Did He Just Say?

Rev. Jonathan Edwards, a leader of the Great A...

Jonathan Edwards: America's greatest theologian Image via Wikipedia

I just started reading the book Think:  The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper and so far, as is to be expected when one reads a Piper book, is pretty academic and mind-exploding!  In chapter 2 Piper is extolling his love of Jonathan Edwards and his musings on the Trinitarian God.  This quote from Edwards comes from his paper “An Essay on the Trinity” and it is simply too good to not share.  I had to read it a couple times before I totally understood it, but it seems to me the most complete and robust explanation of the Trinity and how each Person relates to the Other.

This I suppose to be the blessed Trinity that we read of in the Holy Scriptures.  The Father is the deity subsisting in the prime, unoriginated and most absolute manner, or the deity in its direct existence.  The Son is the deity generated by God’s understanding, or having an idea of Himself and subsisting in that idea.  The Holy Ghost is the deity subsisting in act, or the divine essence flowing out and breathed forth in God’s infinite love to delight in Himself.  And I believe the whole Divine essence does truly and distinctly subsist both in the Divine idea and Divine love, and that each of them are properly distinct persons.

That totally blew my mind!  And it gets even crazier because on the next page Piper includes another excerpt from Edwards’ paper on how the Trinity glorifies itself and delights in itself.

God is glorified withing Himself these two ways: (1) By appearing…to Himself in His own perfect idea [of Himself], or in His Son, who is the brightness of His glory. (2) By enjoying and delighting in Himself, by flowing forth in infinite…delight towards Himself, or in his Holy Spirit.

…So God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: (1) By appearing to…their understanding. (2) In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself…God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.  When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified  than if they only see it.  His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart.

God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart.  He that testifies his idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it.

So there it is.  A rather complete and robust exegesis on the doctrine of the Trinity in less than 200 words!  I didn’t think that existed!  Just some food for thought since I don’t have time to write any more.

Peace.

True Beauty

Last night we learned of one of the most tragic and saddening deaths of perhaps this young century.  Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple passed away from a several year long battle with pancreatic cancer.  Steve Jobs’ influence in the world of technology is one that simply cannot be regarded with anything else but praise.  Jobs took a fledgling desktop computer company called Apple in the early ’80’s trying to compete against giants such as Microsoft and IBM and turned it in to one of the world’s most valuable companies at the time of his death.  After being fired once from his post at Apple, Jobs is widely remembered as the Comeback Kid success story of the business world.  Under Jobs’ guidance and brilliance, Apple has created some of the most amazing computers and devices the world has ever seen, from Macintosh computers, iPods, Macbooks, to the revolutionary iPhone.  Apple products have long set the standard for industry change while also raising the bar aesthetically as well.  Steve Jobs will be missed by all those whose lives have been impacted by Apple in any way, shape, or form.  The world has lost a true visionary and genius.  My prayers go out to the Jobs family; may they find comfort and peace in their Creator in this time of intense grief and sorrow.

But this post is not about Steve Jobs.  This post is about Someone else.  That someone knows a thing or two about creating beautiful things and being a revolutionary and genius.  He also happens to be the creator of ALL things, including Steve Jobs.  He is the Sovereign Creator of the universe…God.  While all the things in this world may hold a unique beauty, they all declare something about the One who created them.  Humans for example are created in the image of God.  Our primary purpose in life is to model God with all the things we do with the gifts He has given us, our brains, our talents, our ability to think and reason, our creativeness, and our emotions.  All of those are gifts from God and were meant to be used to say something awesome about the One who endowed us with those gifts.

Our God’s beauty is on display all the time in nature and the beauty of the heavens.  Have you ever been stargazing on a clear night and been captivated by the sheer beauty of the cosmos?  It’s an amazing feeling because you are gazing at the beauty of God and his wisdom and power.  God is the source of all the beauty in this world and we, as His image-bearers have the responsibility, and the privilege, of giving Him praise as we behold it.  Martin Luther once said “All of a Christian’s life is one of repentance.”  While that is true I think in light of the truth of God’s beauty and wisdom, and power we should also say “All of a Christian’s life is one of praise!”  He alone is worth of all our praise.