Matthew 11:25-27 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you’ve hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have shown them to babies. Indeed, Father, this brings you happiness. My Father has handed all things over to me. No one knows the Son except the Father. And nobody knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him.”
The amazing miracles, mysteries, and secrets affirmed in the Gospels as well as the letters of Paul, were originally prophetically proclaimed by the Messianic prophet Isaiah in chapter 64:4, repeated in 1 Corinthians 2 and Romans 2. New Testament authors proclaim that God sent Jesus the Lamb of God, His Only Son, to die on the Cross for our sins. This is the prophetic promise of the Old Testament and the Gospel theme of the New Testament.
This good news should warm our hearts.
Heal us. Change us. Give us new direction and motivation in our lives.
There is so much bad in our world each day that we have an inbuilt need of this powerful message of the free gift of salvation, which God has for us. Grace is all of God. Faith is also all of God, and any deeds that we may do, are really God’s works in us.
Salvation is the focus of the Gospel, and grace, faith and works are all of God, but we pray and hope that some of God’s attributes will rub off on us. Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Trekking through the Word of God, as we read the history of God’s chosen people, the messages and instructions from God, the rebelliousness of Israel and Judah, God conveys the prophetic promises of salvation and the Promised Land. This becomes an adventure as the narrative and promise touches and permeates our hearts and minds.
Some ideas seem to be difficult and a mystery, but not when it comes to the seventh-day Sabbath. The problem is because humans have stepped in with pagan, fake and legalistic teachings that have hoodwinked and misled millions. Yet when we look at the clarity and freshness of the Scriptures, we find that the Sabbath is taught with clarity and ease of understanding from the Word of God.
In 2017 Christians are celebrating a prophet of Grace, Martin Luther. 500 Years ago, on October 31, 2017 Professor Luther pinned the 95 These to the Church door. This changed world history, economy, theology, but the Protestant or Christian Reformation is not yet complete.
“Hanging upon the cross Christ was the gospel. This is our message, our argument, our doctrine, our warning to the impenitent, our encouragement for the sorrowing, and the hope of every believer. Paul’s confession, “For me to live is Christ,” is said to be the most perfect interpretation in a few words, in all the Scriptures, of what it means to be a Christian. This is the whole truth of the gospel.” E. G. White (The Desire of Ages, page 211).
Romans 16:25, 26 “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith.”
Martin Luther is most probably one of the most famous and influential Protestant Reformers. Reformation Day for this 500th year anniversary of the nailing of the 95 Theses to a church door, is a special time to remember and reflect on the Protestant Reformation, a movement that initiated theological reform and initiated Protestant branches of Christianity split away from the Roman Catholic church. The Reformation movement consisted of many different individuals and groups, in many countries. The motivation was to restore the Bible to a central place in Christian doctrine, and to emphasize the importance of grace rather than good works in offering Salvation to all who choose.
The spirit of this Christian Reformation is still alive and well, with contemporary Bible Scholars and Church leaders finding increasing reasons for the need of more ‘Back to the Bible’ proclamation of the Gospel of Grace and sharing of the Gospel of Jesus.
Five of Martin Luther’s favorite Verses
The following five favorite verses of Martin Luther, are proposed by Andy Rau, Senior Manager for Content at Bible Gateway (2017).
1. Romans 1:17 “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
The famous reformer Martin Luther identified this verse as one of the key inspirations for his work. Luther saw in it (and in other verses, like Habakkuk 2:4) a powerful reminder that it is through faith in God’s grace, and not through good works, that humans are justified before God.
2. Ephesians 2:8 “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.”
Another verse that emphasizes salvation as a gift of grace, not something we’ve earned through our own merit—a key belief of the Reformers.
3. 1 Peter 2:5 “Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
One of the most provocative and controversial beliefs of the Reformers was that because every Christian is considered part of the “priesthood,” there was no Scriptural basis for the office of priesthood as the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches understood it. This remains a key distinction between these branches of Christianity to this day.
4. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
“Sola scriptura” - the belief that the Bible contains everything we need to know in order to be reconciled to God and live righteously - was important to the Reformers. This idea elevates Scripture above all other authorities, including the church and Christian tradition.
5. Matthew 11:29-30 “Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.”
The Protestant Reformers believed that centuries of church tradition had placed a heavy burden on the backs of believers, and pointing to verses like this one, they reminded Christians that the gospel of Christ is meant to free people from guilt and sin.
The problem today is that Protestants have lost most of their protest. Instead of reformation there is regression. Instead of restoration there is reversion. Instead of righteousness there is retreat. We need a new return to the Bible, an abundant infilling of the Holy Spirit and a renewal of the great Protestant Reformation. We need to say with Martin Luther “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”
Frank Gerald Steyn DPhil is originally from South Africa. Frank has pastored in the Ohio Conference for many years, including Churches at Piqua and Chillicothe.