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Don’t Miss Your Home Field Advantage: Thinking About Christmas Differently

Christmas is the time of year Christians have the home field advantage. Arguably the biggest global holiday of the year centers around the birth of one person: Jesus Christ.

Jesus may be now be sharing the stage with a whole cast of characters from Santa Claus to Frosty to the Nutcracker but He is still the main attraction.

A “home field” advantage assumes conditions of the environment are beneficial to the home team. It is more than a state of mind. For example, this Sunday, the Green Bay Packers enjoyed the benefit of facing the Houston Texans at home at Lambeau Field. But that’s not all. It was snowing. A lot. The visitors from perennially warm Houston are not used to playing in the Frozen Tundra. This is the power of a home field advantage.

And we have an even more powerful one this season.

But how often do we miss it entirely? We turn inward with stress and busyness or sucked into the commercialism and sentimentalism of “secularized” Christmas trimmings. This is the one time of the year when “Christ” literally shows up on our televisions, our secular music radio stations, and even in our schools and offices. So what are you going to do about it?

Here’s what I am not talking about: correcting people when they say “Happy Holidays” or losing your mind when a certain coffee shop chain decides to use plain, red cups for the season. Those are distractions.

Home field advantage means we, as Christians, claim the holiness of the holiday at every turn. We have the chance to exude the message of Joy to the World, the Prince of Peace, and share the only gift ever given that has literally changed the world.

Yes, he’s making a list and he’s checking it twice, but not to see who’s been naughty or nice – God lavishes grace upon us.

And yes, He sees you when you’re sleeping and He knows when you’re awake but God’s omniscience is not ‘why’ we’re good when no one else is looking! It’s a comfort and a counsel and a companion.

Yes, Santa Claus is coming to town but the Savior of the World upstages Santa. Christians, claim your home field advantage this Christmas – the lesser gods of culture may win a few squeals and take credit for presents under the tree, but only we can explain the presence of the living God wrapped in human flesh delivered as the One to deliver all of us.

Here is some homework: How can you, your church or your family make a plan to utilize all the benefits of the season’s home field advantage?

For more from Carmen visit The Reconnect.

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Carmen’s Family Advent Countdown

What you will need for great family fun (and significant learning) during Advent:

  1. A Quarter
  2. Several varieties of grapes (or grape flavored items)
  3. Smiley sticker
  4. A little “surprise” in a brown paper bag (it would be great if were full of gummy fish!)
  5. A birthday candle
  6. Bell
  7. “Goldfish” fish-shaped crackers
  8. Watch “weather on the 8’s” on the weather channel or go to weather.com and put in your zip code
  9. Piece of a map (or you could do this devo in the car using your Nav system)
  10. Sand dollar (the bigger the better)
  11. Make homemade valentines out of Christmas paper or old Christmas cards
  12. Place cards with each person’s name on them around a table set with one extra chair (that place card should read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”)
  13. Packet of salt or salt shaker
  14. Sand (this is a great day to go to the beach!)
  15. Flowers (silk)
  16. Raisins
  17. Seeds
  18. A wrapped gift
  19. A candy cane
  20. Crumpled foil
  21. Mustard seed
  22. Dove (a dove ornament will do)
  23. Small scrap of wool
  24. Blue marble (and a globe if you’ve got one)
  25. Picture of your child as a baby and their birth announcement (if you have one).

Family Advent Countdown:

November 30 – Day of preparation! Advent is a season of preparation for the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. Today is a day of preparation for Advent – today is a good day to collect the “things” you will need for the first week of Advent. Today is also a good day to get out your Advent Calendar and hang it somewhere that everyone can see. Pick up an Advent Devotional booklet as a means of supplementing your own preparation for the coming of the Christ child. Talk with your child about what it means to be prepared for the arrival of a guest or a new baby. What are the all the things you would need to do to get ready? (If you’re having guests this Christmas season, this is a good opportunity to plan for who is going to do what in your family to prepare for their arrival.)

December 1 – A quarter! That equals 25 cents. But 25 also stands for the number of days till Christmas, when God gave us His best present. Jesus told about one woman’s gift and the way she gave it. Read: Mark 12:41-44. (This is a great opportunity to teach your kids how to use the bible. Teach them how to find the Book title in the table of Contents, turn to the beginning of that book, then find the chapter and finally the verses. Even if they can’t read yet, they can find the numbers.)

Talk about what your family is going to “give” this Christmas (not what everyone is hoping to “get”). This is a good time to clean out “old” toys and to talk about giving gifts that don’t “cost” anything: singing carols at a nursing home, sending Christmas cards to military service men, making cookies for the fire-fighters, giving hugs to everyone who comes to church.

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Find a printable version here: Carmen’s Family Advent Countdown

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What now for Christians in America? Reconciliation

Fifty percent of the American population woke up today in a nation where they don’t feel they belong.  Some are fearful for their and their children’s future.  There is a great need for reconciliation, a restoration of the United nature of these American states. That is an opportunity for Christians today. As we walk as Christ’s ambassadors in a post-election world, we must be walking in prayer. Prayer for President-elect Donald Trump, prayer for Hillary Clinton and her supporters and prayer for all those who must now somehow work together to govern this divided country.

Step up to the responsibility of the ministry of reconciliation.

Christians know the reality of reconciliation. Once at enmity with God, Christians are now reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ. There is no greater division than that which has already been bridged. We then turn to be ministers of that reconciling influence in the world.

Reconciliation requires leaving the safety and security of our communities of comfort and intentionally engaging with people who are the world differently. If every person you know or read on social media thinks and votes the same way you do, then it is time to widen your circle. If you think this is some kumbaya exercise, you could not be more wrong. Reconciliation is the very heart of the gospel.

The New York Times/CBS conducted a poll before the election and found 8 in 10 voters feel repulsed by the election, and feel the toxicity threatens the ability of (winner) to govern

People are feeling disenfranchised and need a place to belong. They also need hope, reconciliation and a restoration of joy. Who does that sound like? It sounds like The Church at its best.

This includes what is happening inside family of Christ. Four out of five white evangelicals voted for Trump, while evangelicals of color largely preferred Clinton. Does this difference define us? Or does the gospel. Let grace abound in how we interact and treat each other.  Let our reconciliation to each other be a witness to the outside world. This could be the greatest call to the Church today. The world is looking for peace today— will they find it in the people who are called to be ambassadors for the Prince of Peace?

Let’s make our homes and churches THE place to find peace, hope and community. And let us lean into our calling as ministers of reconciliation.

Separate your Voter ID from your Christian identity.

A takeaway from this entire cycle has been the Christian has no “home” in a political party today. That is not a bad thing because our calling has never been political influence or power.  Christians live in the freedom of Christ under every variety of government, more often as an oppressed minority than as the power brokers. This election has exposed a need for Christians in America to recenter their identity on Christ, alone.

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A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away: Solus Christus

Last week we celebrated the 499th anniversary of the Reformation. I talked about four of the five Solas of the Reformation in a series I called “A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away.” The five Solas were Latin phrases that emerged as slogan of the Protestant Reformation. Today we consider Solus Christus  — Christ alone.

The Reformation called the church back to faith in Christ as the sole mediator between God and man. While the Roman church held that “there is a purgatory and that the souls there detained are helped by the intercessions of the faithful” and that “Saints are to be venerated and invoked;” “that their relics are to be venerated” — the reformers taught that salvation was by Christ’s work alone.

As John Calvin said in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, “Christ stepped in, took the punishment upon himself and bore the judgment due to sinners. With his own blood he expiated the sins which made them enemies of God and thereby satisfied him … we look to Christ alone for divine favour and fatherly love!”

As the Scripture says:

There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all…

For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. (Colossians 1:13-18)

Jesus + nothing else. That’s the essence of Solus Christus and it was necessary to reassert because by the time of the Reformation, the unique work of Christ had, in practice, been overshadowed by the works of humans. Questions arose about whether or not Christ’s atoning work on the cross was fully sufficient to save people from their sins and bring them into eternal life with God the Father.

The Roman Catholic Church had developed a Jesus plus personal penance, plus indulgences, plus the accoutrements of the church which had produced an elaborate self-perpetuating establishment. Specifically, the Mass itself is described in the Catholic catechism as “reparation for the sins of the living and the dead.”

Parishioners were discouraged from petitioning Christ directly. Instead, they were instructed to utilize a myriad of intermediaries including their local priest, bishop, the saints, and Mary. With one sweep, the Reformers cut through these obstacles and came down to the heart of the gospel—Solus Christus! They declared that:

Christ alone is the mediator with the Father.

Christ alone has paid for our sins through his death on the cross, once and for all.

Christ alone is God’s solution for humanity’s ills.

Christ alone, plus nothing.

Christ alone is the way to salvation.

There is no other way to salvation and nothing need be added to Christ to attain salvation.

Solus Christus reminds us that in all of human history, Jesus Christ is completely unique: the God-man, the Savior, God’s anointed Messiah, the Son of Man and Son of God, Emmanuel, Christus Victor!

The link between the demotion of Sola Scriptura and the denial of Solus Christus is significant. When human opinion is acknowledged as having greater worth than Scripture, statements from Christ himself or statements about Christ in Scripture carry little weight. Even statements as clear as, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) are ignored in favor of a more inclusive cultural narrative that puts all religions on a par with one another. The result thwarts the fifth Sola directing all life toward the glory of God alone. Denials of the singular saving work of Jesus Christ are evidence of a pervasive erosion of classical Christology in the church today.

Others may deny Him, but we will not. There can be no denying that the decay of Solus Christus is partly the responsibility of those who knowing the truth, did not contend valiantly for it. Somewhere between our “Jesus Freak” t-shirts and “Jesus is my Best Friend” bracelets, we have so focused on Jesus the human brother that we allowed the church and the world to lose sight of Jesus the eternal God. Jesus left the eternal presence of the God-head and came down to earth to do more than make us feel better about ourselves. He came to conquer the realities of sin and death that separate us from God. He came to lift us into the koinonia, the fellowship he enjoys with the Father. He came to inaugurate and initiate the kingdom of heaven, and he came to do what no other sacrifice could ever accomplish: offer himself as a thoroughly sufficient atonement for sin.

When we are confronted with someone challenging the revelation that Jesus is the only way, are we prepared to give a reason for the hope within? Do we know the Scriptures well enough? Are we sufficiently reliant upon the Holy Spirit at work within us to speak through us? Are we equipped and have we equipped others to give a God-honoring, Christ-exalting, biblically grounded, faithful and winsome answer? People are literally dying to know the assurance of things hoped for that we possess by faith in Christ. Do we care enough and are we willing to appear foolish enough to declare: “Here is the Way! Here is the Truth! Here is the Life! Here is Jesus!”?

We must humble ourselves before the Lord and pray, with Paul, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10-11). From that place of humility, we can begin to be the beggars who show other beggars where to find bread.

This blog is taken in large part from “Falling Short of the Solas,” by Carolyn Poteet, Theology Matters. Jan-Feb. 2013.

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A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away: Sola Fide

This week we’re looking at the 5 Solas of the Reformation. We’ve talked about the book ends: Sola Scriptura and Sola Dei Gloria and about Sola Gratia. Today we look Sola Fide – faith alone.

I call this series “A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away.” The five Solas were Latin phrases that emerged as slogan of the Protestant Reformation.

How a person could be justified and is justified — as a sinner reconciled to a Holy God — how that happens was the primary question the Reformers were seeking to address. The Reformers declaration that justification is by faith alone may have been their most radical claim.

In the 1,000 years prior to the Reformation a multi-layered bureaucratic industry had developed in which the agents of the church — popes, priests, monks, councils — created opportunities for the church to benefit financially from the need of people to be forgiven. In order to “achieve” justification, the common person had to be processed through what we view as layers of ecclesiastical red tape and only then would justification be conferred — by the church, through the priest.

As with the doctrine of grace we discussed yesterday, justification was not understood to be freely offered by God in Jesus Christ but instead, was something that had to be earned. If you had doubts that your loved one earned a sufficient amount of it prior to death, you could pay the priest and other church higher ups to seek God’s indulgence on their behalf after death. This practice robbed not only the people of their money but the Roman Catholic Church of its moral authority and mooring to the Bible.

It was as radical in the 1500’s for the Reformers to declare that justification was by grace alone, in faith alone, in Christ alone as it was for Jesus to declare that He and the Father were One. To declare that faith is a gift, and not something you buy nor earn — and grace is a gift — not something conferred by the church, and that Christ gives it to all who believe in Him, was a revolutionary liberation.

All of this literally, figuratively, eternally and temporally hangs on the Cross of Jesus Christ. So, the final Sola, Sola Christi, which we will examine on Monday is the key.

To stand at the foot of the cross is to know the depravity of Sin, the immeasurable grace of God, the nature of sacrificial love, the character of Christ, what obedience looks like, and the reality that there can be nothing left to do or say. We stand there on feet of faith alone.

It is by faith — not apart from reason but reasoned faith in the historical reality of Christ on the Cross — it is by the certain knowledge of faith that I accept the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, which enables me to read and receive and respond to the Bible as the Word of God, Jesus as both Savior and Lord, and willingly cooperate with the Spirit in the sanctification now underway.

We often put our faith today in what we can see, feel, hear and touch — if we need light we flip a switch, if we get a headache we pop a pill, if we want nearly anything we order it online and we have faith that 1,000 things will happen seamlessly to deliver it to us in 24 hours or less. We put our faith in one another on the road and we put our faith in air traffic controllers, computers and pilots to do for us things that we cannot comprehend. That’s why, when it comes to faith in God we think it’s our decision to make. We think it’s up to us to believe. As if in our believing it comes true.

The big news of the Reformation in 1517 remains big news today: Faith is a gift by which we are justified and in which we live. We are justified by faith and we live by faith — not in ourselves, but in God alone. That takes us back to the beginning of our Solas conversation, back to Sola Dei Gloria — this is now and always has been not about us but about God. It’s about God’s glory. Yes, even your faith, your faith experience, your faith expression, your justification by faith, your life of faith — is to the glory of God, alone.

How do I know? The Bible tells me so. As Peter writes in I Peter 1:7, “These” – the trials you’re experiencing in life – “these have come as proofs of the genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Listen to Carmen on The Reconnect as she celebrates the Reformation  by focusing on “A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away!”

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A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away: Sola Gratia

This week we’re looking at the five Solas of the Reformation. We’ve talked about the book ends: Sola Scriptura and Sola Dei Gloria — and today we look what it means to be saved by grace alone: Sola Gratia. I call this series “A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away.”

To review: On Oct. 31, 1517, a priest named Martin Luther nailed a list of 95 concerns he had with the way the Roman Catholic Church was both interpreting the Scripture and teaching the faith to people who could not read the Bible for themselves to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. Luther viewed the practices of the Church as deceptive, manipulative and unnecessarily elite. He wanted people to be able to read the Bible for themselves in what we call the vernacular — the regular language of the day.

The advent of the printing press — an unrivaled technological advancement akin to the Internet in our generation — made the reproduction and dissemination of the Bible possible to large numbers of people for the first time in human history. The printing press democratized information and put the Bible within reach. Luther also condemned the Catholic church’s selling of indulgences, the requirement of works added to Christ’s work on the cross and the withholding of the cup from the laity — that means that at the celebration of what was then the daily mass, the people received only ½ of the meal instituted and provided by Jesus. The people got the bread but the priest alone got the cup. Luther was convicted by what he read in the Bible that Jesus meant for everyone to share in both the body and the blood of His sacrifice; and that salvation required nothing be added to God’s all sufficient grace.

Institutions and institutional leaders don’t like to be called out and Luther found himself in a very hot seat. So, over time, as his concerns were shared by others, five foundational statements emerged: Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, and the glory of God alone. Taken together these five Solas of the Protestant Reformation guided the Reformers in the reclamation of the Biblical revelation related to salvation.

Today’s Sola is grace alone.

A central cry of the Reformation was that salvation is by grace — and grace alone.

The Roman Catholic church taught that in addition to the grace of God in Jesus Christ, a person needed to do “works” of righteousness including penance and participation in the Mass — not as part of the ongoing sanctification that is continual but as part of their actual justification.

The Reformers argued that Bible includes no such teaching. They argued that a person’s righteous standing before God is imputed to by grace because of the finished, fully sufficient, work of Christ Jesus upon the Cross.

This is not limited to the teachings of Luther and Calvin. As the Baptist Confession of 1689 says, “Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of Himself in the blood of His cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in their behalf; … their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.”

And in honor of the first Sola we discussed, Sola Scriptura, let’s remind us ourselves what the Bible says about salvation through grace alone:

In Ephesians 2:8-9 God says:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Today’s Sola is Grace. In celebration of the 500th year of the Reformation, live today for the fullness of God’s all sufficient grace, to His glory alone.

Listen to Carmen on The Reconnect as she celebrates the Reformation this week by focusing on “A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away!”

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The Truth About Lying, Science Confirms the Bible Again

Scientists recently confirmed small lies lead to big lies and more lying. Science is a method, a process of inquiry. So we should not be surprised when scientific research confirms what revelation has already made known to us in God’s word.

According to an article in The Guardian:

Scientists have uncovered an explanation for why telling a few porkies has the tendency to spiral out of control. The study suggests that telling small, insignificant lies desensitises the brain to dishonesty, meaning that lying gradually feels more comfortable over time.”

Which makes one wonder, how small does a lie have to be, to be truly insignificant? If I lie to myself, isn’t the seed of that deceit now planted in my mind? If I hear that lie repeated and reinforced enough times, am I not more inclined to believe it? This is the whole theory behind the practice of brainwashing. It is the method applied to extract false confessions. The repetition of a lie becomes a truth to the person whose mind becomes home to the lie.

What scientists describe as desensitizing the brain, others just call sin’s slippery slope. We all know once you’ve lied, you often have to lie to support your first lie. It’s a path you don’t want to start down because it leads to destruction. First the destruction of your own integrity but then to the destruction of your relationships with others.

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A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away: Soli Deo Gloria

 

Yesterday, in celebration of the beginning of the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation, I started offering “A Sola A Day to Keep Heresies Away.” We talked yesterday about Sola Scriptura and the importance of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to the Christian life.

The five Solas are Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, and the glory of God alone.

The five Solas of the Protestant Reformation are biblically grounded theological principles that guided the Reformers as they sought to right what had gone wrong as Christianity morphed from a movement into an institution into something far afield from the Biblical vision of the Church in the world.

Today’s Sola is Soli Deo Gloria! For the Glory of God Alone

What part of your life — indeed what part of life itself — is free of God? There is nowhere that God is not and there is nothing over which God does not say, “Mine.” That’s doesn’t mean that God is greedy, it means that God is glorious! There is nothing and no one, at no time, in no place, under no circumstance about which God does not care and over which God is not sovereign.

The heresy that had arisen overtime was the division of life into the sacred and the secular. The reformers saw all of life to be lived under the Lordship of Christ. Just as everything is created by God for His glory, so too every aspect of life is redeemed and sanctified unto the glory of God. That is the Christian life — not that we are saved for ourselves and our own glory, but for the Glory of God alone.

The Reformation reclaimed the Scriptural teaching of the sovereignty of God over every aspect of the believer’s life. All of life is to be lived to the glory of God.

For all of our theological shortcomings as Americans this we get right. In the State of Theology survey recently conducted by Ligonier and LifeWay Research, most American’s got the answer to the first question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism right. It asks, “What is the chief end of man? Most Americans actually still answer that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

That is a great and all-consuming purpose! That washes over and fills not only the time we spend intentionally in worship or at church, but in leisure and at work, in relationships and at school, in politics and at the ballfield. Each and all of those moments, environments and relationships are part of the life God redeems — not by conformity to the world but by the sanctifying of the Christian life, according to the Word of God and continual transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

As the Scripture says:

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

“Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.” 1 Peter 4:11

“He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever.” Revelation 1:6

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.” 2Peter 3:18

“To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.” Ephesians 3:21

“Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever.” Revelation 7:12

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36

So, today’s Sola is Sola Dei Gloria. In celebration of the 500th year of the Reformation, live today for the Glory of God, alone.

Listen to Carmen on The Reconnect as she celebrates the Reformation this week by focusing on “A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away!”

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Atheists Want ‘Higher Power’ Out of AA

A Canadian atheist is suing Alcoholics Anonymous to have all references to God or any higher power from the 12-step program. Here’s the problem: AA is an inherently spiritual program of recovery, it always has been.

AA started when Bill Wilson, who had been in and out of medically- and psychologically-based recovery programs, had a transforming encounter with God. He never drank again and he eventually developed the 12 steps with another recovering alcoholic, Dr. Bill Smith. Both were a part of the evangelical Christian Oxford Group.

The Oxford Group was founded by missionary Dr. Frank Buchman who believed the root of all problems–including addiction–were fear and selfishness. Both he argued are inherently spiritual issues. Dr. Buchman believed that to learn to live with fear and selfishness, a person needed to surrender one’s life to God’s sovereign moment-by-moment presence.

So, to imagine that AA would now be able to expunge God–who is already depersonalized and non-specified in AA as “a Power greater than ourselves”–is to deny the experience of all those for whom surrender has paved the way to recovery.

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A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away: Sola Scriptura

Yesterday was the 499th anniversary of the Reformation which makes today the first day of the 500th year. I thought it would be fun to focus on a Sola a day to drive the heresies away!

Salvation comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the Glory of God alone. And all this we know by the Word of God, the Bible, alone.

The five Solas of the Protestant Reformation are biblically grounded theological principles that guided the Reformers as they sought to restore the Word of God to its rightful place in the life of the church. They were also concerned that Christ be restored to His rightful place as Savior alone and that people understand that salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone. Each Sola corresponded to a teaching of the church at the time that contradicted the truth expressed by the Solas.

So, the Bible alone Sola addressed the creeping of church tradition onto a par with the Apostle’s teachings.

Salvation through Christ alone addressed the veneration of Mary and other saints and the use of indulgences as if the eternal disposition of a soul could be affected by anything other than the finished work of Christ upon the Cross.

By grace alone through faith alone was the strong rejection of a theology of works righteousness that had developed in Roman Catholicism over a 1,000 years.

So, today’s Sola is Scriptura.

This is really the basis of the Reformation and, I am ready to argue, is the foundation that has been eroded out from under the church in America over the past 100 plus years.  The Reformation calling to the Church was always a calling to be reformed according to the Word of God.  That’s a call we need as much today as the church in 1517.

The Bible alone as the ultimate authority was the “Formal Principle” of the Reformation. In 1521, Martin Luther was interrogated in a famous trial at the Diet of Worms.  It was during that interrogation that he famously declared his conscience to be captive to the Word of God saying, “Unless I am overcome with testimonies from Scripture or with evident reasons — for I believe neither the Pope nor the Councils, since they have often erred and contradicted one another — I am overcome by the Scripture texts which I have adduced, and my conscience is bound by God’s Word.”

The 1530 Augsburg Confession, 1561 Belgic Confession and the 1562 Second Helvetic Confession all assert the foundational nature of Sola Scriptura for Reformed theology.

The Belgic Confession stated, “We believe that [the] holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein … Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures nor ought we to consider custom or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God … Therefore, we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule” (VII).

But these, in the end, are also the words of men. So, what does the Bible declare about itself?

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (II Tim. 3:14-17)

And the early church understood, received and preached it as such.

My husband, Jim, often observes that until the Word of God is restored to its rightful place in the life of the Church, the Church will not be able to have a rightful witness in the life of the culture. The same holds true in the lives of every believer. If the Word of God does not hold a sacred place of authority in your life — if your mind is not being transformed through the renewing that comes from God’s Word — then you are not adequately equipped to enter the world as a representative of Christ, nor an ambassador of His Kingdom.

If our lives are not literally saturated with the Scriptures, then we’re squeezed or hard pressed, what comes out is not His Word but our own. The world doesn’t need a piece of our minds, it needs the very peace of the mind of Christ.

So, today’s Sola is Sola Scriptura. In celebration of the 500th year of the Reformation, immerse yourself today in the Word of God that you might in turn speak God’s word to a world desperately in need of it.

Listen to Carmen on The Reconnect as she celebrates the Reformation this week by focusing on “A Sola A Day to Drive the Heresies Away!”

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