It has to do with an Augustinian monk in Germany and the recovery of the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone for salvation.
494 years ago on October 31, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenburg, Germany. The hammer blows of that posting still ring in the hearts of men and women around the world.
The Word of God pierced Luther’s heart like a lightening bolt: the just shall live by faith! That act changed Western Civilization and revival swept across Europe!
What has been called the Protestant Reformation was really just a re-asserting of ancient Christian doctrine.
In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the so-called Protestant Reformation contained nothing new. It was all a recommitment to the original teachings of Jesus and His apostles contained in the New Testament.
So much superstition had already infiltrated the Roman Catholic Church prior to 1517, that the ongoing cry of the reformers became “Ad fontes!”—which is a Latin phrase meaning, “to the sources!”
This meant the reformers understood that the strongest antidote to false teaching and superstition is a clear declaration of God’s Word. They would go back to the Word of God again, and again, and again as their source of authority regardless of what the traditions of men had contrived.
In our day, so much of what passes for preaching has purged the gospel of every element that might be considered the least bit offensive or shameful to the unconverted natural mind.
The world has been telling the church that we shouldn’t talk about sin, we shouldn’t mention the reality of hell, and we shouldn’t tell people that Christ is the only way to the Father. We’ve been told that unbelievers don’t want to hear about that and they’ll call you narrow-minded if you do.
It’s time for the church to start teaching the world God’s truth and stop letting the world shape the direction of the church!
The first duty of the true church is to feed Christ’s sheep. It is only when the church feeds Christ’s sheep that the lost have any chance of hearing the truth and being saved by grace through faith.
Those who understand the full implications of the gospel message know that there are certain parts of the gospel which make the natural mind uncomfortable to hear and which, apart from faith, are impossible to believe.
These truths can make us feel a legitimate sense of shame, especially if we’re used to courting public approval. Talking about sin and wrath and judgment can make us feel a sense of shame, especially when those truths are rejected and ridiculed.
Jesus knew that His followers would be tempted to feel ashamed of Him and of His words; so He told them they would be blessed when they overcame that temptation… and He warned them that real shame would occur if they didn’t.
Listen to Jesus in Luke 9:26…
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” [ESV]
In a battle of competing fears, I would much rather feel temporal shame in the presence of unbelievers here on earth for the gospel in order to be eternally welcomed by the King of kings than to be temporally welcomed by unbelievers here on earth only to be eternally ashamed in the presence of the Lamb of God and of His holy angels!
Commentator Geoffrey Wilson wrote,
“The unpopularity of a crucified Christ has prompted many to present a message which is more palatable to the unbeliever, but the removal of the offense of the cross always renders the message ineffective. An inoffensive gospel is also an inoperative gospel. Thus Christianity is wounded most in the house of its friends” (Romans: A Digest of Reformed Comment [Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1976], p. 24).
The answer to this problem is to preach the whole counsel of God. Preach the message of Christ to all people, rather than preaching the message of our culture and its confusion.
The answer to the church’s spiritual anemia is not a better marketing strategy; it’s not in changing the music style or adding a coffee shop to the vestibule of the church. The answer is in a return to the passionate preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ which includes the whole counsel of God’s Word!
Celebrating God’s Gospel with you,