Reformation Today

This year, Monday, October 31 marks a significant date in the Christian calendar.

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,
Pastor Kevin


Prayers in the Church

As we’ve been looking carefully at what Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:8-15 about the differing roles of men and women in the public gathering of the church, it raises some interesting questions. Let’s clarify what this passage is teaching and what it permits and prevents.

To begin with, the word translated “men” in verse 8 is from anēr; this doesn’t refer to mankind in general, but always refers to males as opposed to females. Men are to take the lead when the church gathers for corporate worship. This word can only refer to men.

When prayer is offered for the lost during those times of corporate worship, the men are to do the praying; their heart for the lost is to set the tone for the church.

This public prayer is what we often think of as the “pastoral prayer” or an invocation or call to worship or anytime one person stands behind the pulpit to pray on behalf of the whole church. According to Scripture, only men are to take this responsibility in the worship service.

The women and other men who are not leading are to corporately unite their hearts in submissive agreement as prayers for the lost and for rulers and those in high positions are being offered by the men who serve as overseers in the church.

Of course, both men and women are to pray for the lost. But in the public gathering of the church for corporate worship, only biblically qualified men are charged with leading the way in prayer for the spiritual needs of Christ’s church.

But what about times when the church gathers for a prayer meeting, with both men and women?

During those times of informal prayer where no one is praying on behalf of the whole church, but men and women are simply offering spontaneous prayers of intercession, this wouldn’t be a violation of the principle behind 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The act of representation is missing.

However, where one person must formally present the prayers of the congregation as a representative of the whole church, only men are charged with this responsibility.

Men are held responsible by Christ for teaching His Word, for reading the Word, and for praying in the public gathering of His church; and every man is held responsible for the spiritual oversight of his own household regardless of his occupation.  

The primary purpose behind these principles is the greater spread of the gospel. Ironically, having men and women offer prayers or preaching in public worship as co-equal representatives of the church isn’t how the spread of the gospel is maximized.

God’s design is for men to lead spiritually. When men fail in this regard or when they passively abdicate this responsibility, it creates a spiritual vacuum tempting women to violate God’s design for expedient or pragmatic reasons.

Someone must lead. If men don’t, women are tempted to fill the vacuum left by the absence of godly male leadership.

In verse 8 there’s an instruction for how men are to pray for the lost at church. Again, this instruction is to maximize the spread of the gospel; it’s a mandate.

And then in verse 9 there’s a mandate for Christian women on appearance, again with the overarching motive being how to maximize the spread of the gospel to all people.

Are women permitted to pray? By all means. However, in the context of the public gathering of the church, only men are to take that responsibility in the worship service of the church. Anyone can and should pray silently in their seats at church… and everywhere beyond the church.

Are women permitted to teach the Bible? By all means. However, they are to teach the Bible to other women and children outside of the corporate worship of the church (see Titus 2:3-5). In public worship, women are not to lead men spiritually.

In some informal settings outside the church however, there is the example of Aquila and his godly wife, Priscilla leading and teaching Apollos the Word of God more accurately (see Acts 18:24-26).

In that setting, Priscilla gave informal instruction (i.e. spiritual leadership) to Apollos, albeit with the partnership and counsel of her husband, Aquila.

As we continue looking at these counter-cultural truths, we’re going to see that God’s design is under assault in our day. Yet it was also under assault in Paul’s day too.

Our charge as godly men and women is to obediently apply God’s Word to His church. It shapes the way we gather as His people and it sends a loud message to the world that we follow, not the voice of the world, but the Voice of our Master and Savior.

For His glory in the church,
Pastor Kevin


Reformation and Renewal

As we move into October and prepare for winter, I’m reminded that reformation season is in full bloom at our church. I love this time of year!

On the last Sunday of October (this year it’s October 30th), we observe Reformation Sunday as a church. We do this because of what the Protestant Reformation means to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It’s a reminder of the fact that a once twisted and distorted view of the gospel was recovered and clarified. Hundreds of Christians gave their lives to declare the gospel.

As a result, thousands and thousands of people began to hear the good news and come to faith in Christ. They were people trapped in a religion of rituals and traditions, but without the gospel.

For this reason, reformation season is also a time of spiritual renewal. We remember what is at stake in the doctrines of Scripture. We savor again God’s sovereignty and we move forward with renewed hope and inspiration.

The reason we observe the Sunday closest to October 31st is because of how that reformation relates to our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ today.

The truth is, the one true gospel is still at stake. There are millions who haven’t heard it at all and millions more who haven’t understood it correctly.

Whenever we preach on these subjects, it clarifies the gospel, what it is and what it isn’t, so that more people can hear and believe.

History is a compelling witness to the power of the gospel!

When we call on history to bear witness, it speaks to the overwhelming power of God’s Word to change lives and to shape empires. This Reformation Sunday will be no different in that regard.

Those of us who delight in the truth of God’s Word look forward to every occasion to celebrate its triumph over darkness and distortion. May Christ be glorified as His truth goes forth!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Kevin