About Me

My photo
Evangelist, Baptist, Husband, Father, Mid-30's.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reformation Day, an Eye-Witness Account

A sermon preached last year:

Text – Romans 1:17

Good morning, isn’t it a beautiful Wednesday October 31st, Anno Domini 1517? My name, for today, is Reverend Scherer, Augustinian Monk in Wittenburg, electorate of Saxony, Confederation of the Rhine, which is in Deutchland. Something is going to happen today, I fear, for Brother Martin has been complaining of the validity of some of the practices within the Papacy. I share some of his concerns, but he has written 95 charges against the Church and the Pope, surely this will bring great dissension and maybe even cost Brother Martin his life! I mean, a few may start a dialogue, but 95 will start a war!

Let me give you some background. The year is 1517, Anno Domini, which means 1,517 years after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, as estimated by a Scythian Monk named Dennis the Short in AD 525. Throughout this time the Lord has had a church on earth, a representative of his kingdom, an ambassador to the heathen.

This church has had such great saints in it as Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp bishop of Smyrna who remained true to Christ in such great persecution, Augustine of Hippo who wrote that great systematic theology, Nicholas bishop of Myra who stood up to that antichrist Arius who denied Christ as God, Patrick who converted Ireland, Boniface who converted our beloved Germany, Francis who preached directly out of God’s Word in the open air and called men to repent and trust in Jesus Christ, Savonarola who fought corruption within the Church, and Christopher Columbus who has just recently taken the gospel to previously undiscovered heathen lands; time would fail me to tell of all of the great men and women who stood and even died for the one true faith delivered once for all.

But alas, there is great corruption within the Church, just last year John Tetzel came to Wittenberg to sell men tickets to sin, called indulgences! Only a hundred years ago there were two Popes operating in Christendom…at the same time! It is said that there is a prostitute in Rome for every ten men, and some of them even dress as nuns! It is a sad day in the Church, surely something must be done.

I have here a Bible authorized by the Papacy, translated by that godly man Jerome of Stridonium. Beloved, I would that you could read this book, but it is in Latin, and you speak German, and most of you cannot even read that language. I could read it to you, but I am untrained in how to interpret it for you, and the true meaning seems to be veiled to my eyes; from Rome comes the message of which I will preach to you on Sunday, and even then I will deliver this message to you in Latin, a language I hold a masters degree in from Erfurt, but still find difficult to understand.

This Book is God’s Word to us, and the German language is too harsh for us to dare translate it into, lest we blaspheme our Creator. Two men whom the Church leaders hate, Jon Hus and John Wycliffe, did presume to translate this Book into the vernacular, the common language, of the people. Wycliffe into the English language, and though sentenced to death by burning escaped only by natural death, a stroke most likely. Hus into the Bohemian language, and he was burned at the stake for it. Aha, Wycliffe did not escape the fire though, for they burned his bones along with Hus’. Oh how the Church hates these men!!! But…I am not so sure they were in the wrong, for I have been reading this Book in a new light ever since I have been talking to Professor Luther.

Brother Martin asked me to read Romans 1:17, which was strange because my Bible does not have numbers in it, which won’t be added until 1558, but he asked me to read this verse.

Romans 1:17 Iustitia enim Dei in eo revelatur ex fide in fidem sicut scriptum est iustus autem ex fide vivit.

Isn’t that beautiful! How have we missed that until now? It means things that we have not been taught by the Church, it says that our greatest fears are relieved by our amazing God, it sets my heart at ease! It attacks those who say we can buy our way into Heaven, it rejects our Prince’s relics which we look upon to hope for Heaven, and it rejects that wolf Tetzel who comes and steals from our widows and orphans by selling them a license to sin. Oh how I hate that extortioner Tetzel, who uses religious ignorance and our sinners’ heart to deprive us of us sustenance and sends the money to Rome to build that worthless Basilica of St. Peter.

Oh beloved, this verse in Romans is so beautiful; Brother Martin says when he read it a light broke forth over him! He felt that he was instantly born again, and that he entered into the kingdom of paradise through open gates! Oh the beauty of this verse, don’t you agree? What? You don’t understand it! Oh, forgive me, I forgot that you do not speak Latin.

Oh beloved, in order to translate this for you I put my own ordination at risk, I break Roman law not to preach the Word of God in the vernacular of the people! Oh, but is it wise to obey men or God? I must speak that what I have seen and heard of this Christ!

Romans 1:17 Sintemal darin offenbart wird die Gerechtigkeit, die vor Gott gilt, welche kommt aus Glauben in Glauben; wie denn geschrieben steht: "Der Gerechte wird seines Glaubens leben."

Now you must see it! Surely you see it?! No? Oh, we’re not German, we’re only pretending, let us try one more time!

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."

The righteous shall live by faith! We are not saved by indulgences, or prayers, or offices, or relics, or Sabbaths, or priests, or baptisms, or Church membership, or communion, we are saved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, received through faith, for, righteousness is revealed from faith for faith! Beloved, you have no idea how this puts my soul at rest, I had tried so hard to keep the laws of God, but in my body I feel that I am slave to sin, that I have no ability to choose good nor God, and that my sin had utterly separated me from Heaven! But thanks be to Jesus Christ who paid for my sins, who bore my condemnation, who indeed paid it all, and now beloved, all to him I owe.

And now Brother Martin is going to start a theological war with the Papacy, he has detailed how Rome has failed to adhere to the Bible, he has placed the Bible as his sole authority. I would like to take some credit for this, for Brother Martin was once an amazing priest of the Roman Church, a better priest could not be found. He took his ordinances seriously, he spent hours in confession boring the confessional priests with peccadillo, or petty sins, and he became exceedingly angry on that day when he heard me joke in my duties. For you see, when we Roman priests take the bread for communion and lift it in thanks, we are required to say, “Hoc Est Corpus Meum” and declare the bread to be the very body of Jesus Christ, but beloved, in my boredom and God feeling so distant, once I said, “Panis es, et panis manebis,” which is certainly the truth, that “Bread thou is, and bread thou shalt remain.” Dear Brother Martin overhead and became irate, but ever since then he has diligently studied the scriptures and has genuinely become a new man! I wish that I could take credit for his conversion, but I know that all honor and power belong to the Holy Spirit of God.

At this very moment Brother Martin is on his way to nail his list of grievances to the door of the Cathedral where all public announcements are made. Ninety-five grievances, no more, no less, all vehemently attacking the corruption of the Church. Are these Theses perfect? No, by no means, I see a great many errors even in my early reading of the Holy Scriptures, but I have no doubt that Brother Luther will grow much in the following years, that is, if he survives this war he is about to declare. I have no doubt that he will grow greatly in his understanding of the Word, especially as he has confided that he would like to translate the Bible into the German language. But as for these Theses, some are quite good and accurate, I have here a few of his theses which I would like to read,

#1 When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

#21 Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope's indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved.

#27 There is no divine authority for preaching that as soon as the coin in the coffer clings, a soul from purgatory springs.

#32 All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

#52 It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity.

#62 The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

#82 To wit: -- "Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."

These are the statements which Brother Martin has taken to the church. I tried to stop him, asking him if his life and the unity of the Church were worth him making his statement. He replied to me that he sought peace if possible, but truth at all costs.

Today, I see that Martin Luther is birthing a veritable Reformation of the Church! I see that unless God does a mighty work in the hearts of the Papists, we must split and become two churches, one following the truth, and the other a lie. Oh that this division would not have to happen, for many of my friends are loyal to the Papist cause, and it is my fervent hope and prayer to God that they may be saved. But see that there are great distinctions which will grow out of Martin Luther’s call for truth, something which some day may be called the Solas of the Reformation.

Sola Fide – Faith Alone, we see this preached oh so clearly in Romans 1:17, that we are saved not by works plus faith, but by faith alone. We trust in Christ, and it is counted to us as righteousness.

Solo Christo – Christ Alone, that our salvation was accomplished totally by our great God and Saviour on the cross and in his resurrection, not that he opened a way or made it possible for us to be saved, but that he has forever secured for us salvation, if we trust in him. Would someone please read for us Hebrews 10:14, in English, please,

Hebrews 10:14 by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Sola Gracia – Grace Alone, of course we see now that it is not Christ plus our good deeds, but Christ alone that has saved us. Beloved, I have thought on this long and hard, and it seems that we must view grace in light of justice. For justice is when we get what we deserve, and having transgressed the laws of Heaven, what we deserve is the punishment of God. If God were to merely commute our sentence and give us mercy, we would be freed from punishment, but we would still miss Heaven. Here is grace, that what we did not deserve, entrance into the very kingdom of Heaven, God has given us as a free gift, purchased at so great a cost on Calvary’s cross.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone, no-one can or should speak for God apart from his Word, it is how he speaks, it is what he intends for us to know about him. The Archbishop of the Roman Church, known as the Pope, has claimed to be able to speak for God, but we have seen him fail time and time again, and it has become clear to those of us reading our Bibles that the Word is how God speaks to us, not through prayers, not through funny feelings, not through hunches, not through dreams, not (dare I say it) through Popes; but by the very Word of God.

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria – Brother Martin has put it so well, The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God. The purpose of our salvation is not primarily for our benefit, it is to exalt our Sovereign Lord, demonstrating the extent of his justice by punishing sin so violently on the cross, and magnifying his grace by giving us the righteousness of his Son freely; truly this is a gospel worthy of all acceptation.

1 John 2:12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.

Sola Sacerdos – One of the reasons I became an Augustinian Friar is because of the things which the Papists believe the priest, the Sacerdote, is able to do. For example, you saw earlier that it is believed that I have the power to turn bread into the very body of Christ. The priest in the confessional is able to forgive sins, it is believed, and a priest can turn your money into a pardon for sin in paper form.

The Church, and I myself, have become guilty of Sacerdotalism, of worshipping the priesthood instead of God! It is tragic, beloved, and if what Brother Martin has deduced from the Bible is true, it is just a matter of time before this separation of priests and laity fails and we become a church of Sola Sacerdos, of one priesthood, where there is no distinction in God’s eyes between male and female, slave and free, Jew and Greek, and priest and parishioner.

In a Sacerdotal religion, only priests can approach God to receive grace, but in a religion of priests, everyone can enter into the holiest of places, for Christ has made us a congregation of priests, and now we all can enter into his holiest of places.

Hebrews 10:19-22 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

This has huge implications for me beloved, for I stand before you in this priests’ frock, a manner for separating me from you and identifying myself as having more grace and favor than you. But if this Christ esteems us all the same and gives to us all of the same privileges, then this outfit means nothing.

These things, beloved, that I have said to you are radical to the Church at Rome, truly I could be defrocked just for saying them, that is ejected from their priesthood, but to reject the tradition of men and be welcomed into the priesthood of Christ is gain, for though it took so long and so much effort to earn this frock, I count it as rubbish compared to the gain I have in Christ, being found in him with a righteousness not my own, but one received through faith, knowing the power of his resurrection. This may mean that I must suffer many things for his name’s sake, but I know that I will be made like him in his death, with a full assurance of partaking in his resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-9)

Beloved, I perceive that in the future as this Reformation of the church continues, the wearing of vestments, of robes, will become a matter of greater and greater contention. Men ordained to the gospel ministry, having read their Bible, will refuse to put on a robe, and some of them will even die for it. Others will attempt to redefine the purpose of this robe, stating that it is to take the emphasis off of the pastor and put the emphasis on the Word. Those that redefine this robe will begin to refer to it as a Geneva Gown, named in honor of the Geneva Reformation which will be sparked in only a few years. Two-hundred years in the future George Whitefield will preach in a robe very similar to this one for 18,000 sermons, calling two entire nations, England and America, to repentance in the Living Christ.

But as for me, beloved, I will be reminded that this Reformation is born in Sola Fide, and it is growing in Sola Scriptura, and these two are vitally important, as are the rest, but if this Reformation survives until Christ returns, it will be sustained in Sola Sacerdos, with every believer knowing that they are a priest of the most high God, Christ our overseer of the church, and these priests will take their duties seriously, knowing the scriptures, and carrying the gospel of grace to all peoples. For beloved, there is great darkness in the world today, even in the Church, but this Reformation will preach under a banner of “Post Tenebras Lux”, that after darkness comes light. This world is set to explode in light, for the Word of God has been revealed. Within fifty years, a man burned in Britain will say to his companion, “Play the man, Ridley, for we this day shall light such a candle in England as I trust shall never be put out.”

In just a few years a new believer, William Tyndale, will translate the Bible into English, and he will say of the Roman priesthood, “A boy behind a plow will know more scripture than you.” He will lose his life, burnt at the stake, for his belief in the priesthood of believers, but his prediction will come true. Brother Martin, starting this war, will spend years in seclusion hidden in a castle as he translates the Old and New Testaments into German, and God will mercifully spare his life and bless his efforts. The printing press, invented less than 100 years ago, will ensure that these Bibles are disseminated, and that gospel tracts containing the glorious gospel of Christ will flood throughout the continent and the British isles.

I represent any number of reformed believers, my name is lost to history, but my labor in the Lord was not in vain. I will remove this robe and preach no longer in Latin, but in the vernacular of the people, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of Christ. I will not submit to a man acting vicariously in the place of Christ, but my affections and loyalties will only be to the King of kings. Many whom I represent will be hunted and killed by the Papal Church, but this gospel of Christ will not fail before it accomplishes its purpose, that someone from every nation and tongue will praise the name of Christ for his grace and sacrificial death on the cross.

Beloved, as you hear this message, I implore you first and foremost to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ and Christ alone. Then know your Bible, for it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its content. Men have bled and died so that you can own this Book and read it in English. They have given their lives in the gospel ministry, knowing that any gain apart from Christ is utter rubbish, and that each of us has only one life, and it will soon be past, and only what is done for Christ will last.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Protect Your Kids From Jesus

The world hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. – Jesus (John 7:7, 15:18)
Tuesday was an amazing day in America. Nearly 200,000 copies of the new documentary, 180, were distributed on over 100 campuses in the United States and Canada. Most of these were college campuses, some were high schools. There was not as much opposition as I expected, but there was definitely much. Several police reports were filed, four citations were given, and many people were detained while police checked the legality of the hand-out.

Elsewhere, prayer is banned from public schools and football games, and evangelism is non-existent. As we evangelize at local high-school football games, police make up laws to seek to stop us.

Students were successfully protected from the message of Eternal Life. While we were prohibited from our free-speech rights, students were being taught evolution, homosexual agendas, communism, sports idolatry, sexual lascivious and irresponsibility, a blurring of the judicial/executive branches as police make up laws on the spot, and Islam is lauded as a religion of peace. I regularly preempt fights at football games and seek to witness to both parties involved. The world does its best to protect your children from Jesus Christ. He makes radical demands, so the world is quick to promise freedom, but they don’t admit to you that they are themselves slaves of corruption. They cry out, “Let us throw his laws off of us, ignoring his commands.” But in rejecting the freedom of Christ, they sink into the bondage of sin, and ensure that all around them fall headlong into the mire.

Martin Luther ominously said,
I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.
This isn’t just happening in schools, this is happening in churches. Within every denomination, even the orthodox ones, you’ll find people protecting children from Jesus. Within several denominations, the hymnals have been rewritten to remove references to the cross, and especially to blood. Blood is clearly offensive not just to children, but to everyone who should recognize that blood is offensive for a reason, that something is wrong in the universe and death is a constant reality. These denominations (PCUSA, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, etc.) have successfully protected their children from Jesus and forgiveness, for there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood, as Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins of many.” (Hebrews 9:22, Matthew 26:28)

To be fair, the United Methodist Church has come out against this editing, and I want to applaud them in that regard. They write,
In Wesley hymns, the blood “pleads,” “avails,” “washes,” “purifies,” “saves,” “cleanses” and is “applied.” In the 80 Wesley hymns originally considered for inclusion in the 1989 hymnal, the word “blood” appears 31 times. Twenty-five of the hymns have a clear reference to the atonement. Whether or not blood atonement is taught in the seminaries or preached in the pulpit, it is still sung in the pews.
Elsewhere, practically all denominations protect their children from Jesus by retelling Bible stories. The story of Noah’s Ark has become a story of fuzzy animals, not the wrath of God against millions of reprobates or the salvation of a relative few through means provided and prescripted by God. The anathema Veggie Tales have removed death, destruction, wrath, and judgment from the biblical accounts, and have turned sin into a mild inconvenience that might result in you being covered in pie. They do a fantastic job of protecting kids from Jesus by not even mentioning him.

Any means of teaching that removes offense is necessarily against God. False prophets in the Old Testament protected people from Jesus by declaring PEACE, PEACE, when there really was no peace. They appeased the offense, they settled consciences, and the people faced the severe consequences of the wrath of God against their sin.

Undoubtedly one of the people Jesus hates the most are those who preclude the little ones from coming to him. He threatens them explicitly in Matthew 18:6. The danger is great for protecting a child from Jesus. Both the child and the protector will face God as his enemy. The one who stands between men and God will be judged with greater strictness. Jesus cries out to those protecting people from him, “Woe to you! You shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces! You neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in!

So, reader, wherever you stand in relation to this blog, repent of protecting kids from Jesus. Preach the entire message of the entire Bible, which is that mankind is fallen, God is angry, and something radically drastic was required to appease the wrath of God and reconcile men. The Son of God himself put on a body, because heretofore Jesus was a spirit, and spirits don't have blood, so Jesus put on a body, he lived a perfect life, and he poured out his blood on a cross. He was beaten beyond human recognition, the hatred of men against God was demonstrated on a cross, and the hatred of God against sin was demonstrated on a cross, and Christ bore the indignation of both men and God, giving his life as a ransom, glorifying God in his obedience. Three days later he defeated death, he will deliver everyone who trusts in him from their bodies of death into perfected bodies in Heaven. In Heaven he will wipe away every tear of his saints as death, suffering, and sin become a thing of the past.

You can only protect yourself and others from Christ for so long, for we all have an appointment to meet him. I pray that on that day you meet him as a friend and a Saviour, and not as an enemy and Executioner. If you refuse to come, then stand aside and let evangelists preach the message to those who will, do not stand in the way of the salvation of some-one else.

In conclusion, once while we were preaching in Tampa, Florida, a woman cried out, "Please wait until we leave, I don't want my seven year old exposed to this!" I responded with a George Whitefield paraphrase, "Ma'am, if you won't go to Heaven, then for your son's sake, don't prevent him! Young man, come to Jesus apart from your parents if need be!"
Come then, ye little children, come to Christ; the Lord Christ shall be your righteousness. Do not stay for other people! If your fathers and mothers will not come to Christ, come without them! Let children lead them, and show them how the Lord may be their righteousness. – George Whitefield

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Beautiful Feet - Beautiful Saviour

Isaiah 59 is one of the most frightening chapters in the Bible, this chapter contains information that God is not waiting for people to find him, he is not benevolent or even neutral towards his avowed enemies, but that he is radically against them for their sins. He has hidden his face from sinners, he has separated himself from their fellowship, he has stopped his ears from hearing their cries. The list of indictments against each individual sinner is not short, take a moment to read Isaiah 59:1-15, the action taken is terrifying, read Isaiah 59:16-19.

But verses 20-21 speak of a Redeemer, a glorious Covenant Maker and Keeper, who saves his people perfectly. The first 19 verses seem so radically contradictory to the last two verses, but that is where grace enters. I want to focus on a single line from Isaiah 59 to make this point:
Their feet run to evil. – Isaiah 59:7
One line from one verse, but it is the beginning of an utterly amazing gospel truth. This verse applies to every sinner, it applies to me, it applies to you dear reader, and because of our sinful flight to sin, we are indicted with the rest of mankind for our rebellion against God. If you don’t believe me, turn to Romans 3:15 where this verse is used by the Apostle Paul to demonstrate that you and I are locked under the law.

As if it couldn’t get worse, Proverbs 6:16-19 mirrors this verse,
…the LORD hates…feet that make haste to run to evil…
O! Reader! These implications are serious, for our sins we have earned the hatred of God, the wrath of God abides on us. He has declared an utmost hatred for the things our feet have taken us to do. What then, should we blame our appendages for our sins? Jesus says,
If your foot causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away! It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. – Matthew 18:8
We cannot blame our hands, feet, eyes, or bodies for our sins, for these are but highly complex machines that are operated by our souls. We cannot blame our feet for taking us to sin, because our soul is the culprit for its destinations and its actions, and we will be held accountable. I hope that you see just from this one line in one verse in Isaiah 59 that you fall completely indicted with all of mankind and stand in danger of judgment. To quote Al Mohler, “Everything the Father has against you is true.

But, beloved, I told you this is the beginning of an amazing gospel truth. Follow me to John 13, the night of the Last Supper, the night before Jesus Christ made his payment on a cross to prove himself the Redeemer spoken of in Isaiah 59:20-21. He gathered a basin of water, knelt down before his disciples, and began to wash their feet; an act of abject humility, of doing the work of a slave, of not being served, but serving, for within a day he would give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” – John 13:6-8
O Beloved! Do you see it? Your king has in one act of love atoned for your sins, appeased the wrath of God, and cleansed you from all iniquity. Take a moment to think on your own sins, where have your feet taken you and what have you done there that would have equaled your eternal ruin had it not been for the obedience of your Redeemer to seek and save you? Beloved, now think on your Saviour, think on his feet, at this very moment he is in Heaven making intercession for you, he will stand to welcome you home (Acts 17:55-56), and when he stands, he will stand on feet with the scars of crucifixion forever emblazed as reminders of his faithfulness. Saint, you have heard the lyric, “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my King should die for me?” I can scarce hold back tears to add, “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my King should wash my feet?

This is an amazing gospel truth, but let me make it utterly amazing for you,
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!
– Romans 10:15
Your Lord and your King looks on your feet, feet that heretofore had been covered in filth and had made haste to fly to sin, and he declares them to be beautiful. Not by anything we’ve done, but because we have a Redeemer who came and walked among us, who washed not only our feet but our hands, head, and soul as well (1 Corinthians 6:11), who took every indictment of Isaiah 59 and declared himself guilty of every charge while declaring us innocent. His hands, his side, and his feet were pierced for our iniquities, but his is the chastisement that has brought us peace in his glorious gospel. His prophet Nahum proclaimed the gospel of the beautiful feet of Jesus this way,
Behold! Upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace! – Nahum 1:15
Now beloved, with your cleansed, holy, beautiful feet, imitate your Saviour who loved you, humbled himself, and gave himself for you. Walk in the paths of righteousness he has prepared before time for you to walk (Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 23:3), for shoes for your feet put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), and stand proclaiming to the nations, “Your God, though he was dead, yet he lives! He reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)

For beloved,
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” – Romans 10:14-16
Amazing love, how can it be, that my King would wash my feet?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Christopher Columbus

This will be a topical look at Christopher Columbus. His day is the 12th of this month and his life has been so ignored and misrepresented that I think it will benefit us all to look into his life.

What is Christopher Columbus famous for? The world will tell you it is for discovering the New World, and that's true, but what he is famous for in Heaven is his devotion to Jesus Christ and desire to see the gospel spread.

Columbus was born in Genoa Italy in 1451, his father was a wool-worker, which Columbus trained to follow, but Columbus wanted to be a sailor. His education is fairly spotty in detail, we do know that he learned Latin because all of the best nautical books were in Latin. Which other great book was in Latin at this time? The Bible. Columbus was put in an interesting privileged position to read the book that most people at his time could not read, and he took it very seriously. On one of his first trips he was in Greece, here was all sorts of political and religious unrest and if I had to put my finger on where Columbus got saved, I'd say it was either in Greece, or because of Greece that he would have looked deeper into his Catholic faith.

Ironically, his first voyage, which was to Greece, was the closest he would ever get to India.

His profession of faith is, "I am a most noteworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous Presence."

He took his name, Christopher, exceedingly literally; this name means "The Christ Bearer" and he made it his life's goal to see Jesus Christ glorified through his life. His last name seems to have some Jewish roots, albeit we're not really sure what it means. Columbus claimed to be able to trace his lineage all the way up to King David. This may seem strange, but it is totally plausible, conservative Jews take lineage very seriously, and while David, Jesus, and subsequently Christopher would have been from the line of Judah, if you ever meet someone from the line of Levi, they can take you straight up the list of their genealogy to Aaron. Paul said don't get caught up in this, but it's neat that people are able to do it.

Columbus shares a similar last name with Columba who was a missionary to Scotland in the sixth century who converted the Picts. I wanted to mention him because with Columbus we're going to be discussing lots of science and the Bible, and Columba has writings about him that he encountered huge lizards, aka dragons, in Scotland. One of them almost ate his friend. Today we call them dinosaurs, and they certainly didn't live millions of years ago, but only recently vanished from the earth.

So, back to Columbus, the Italian. He was a Catholic, but his letters and journals are very biblical and I have very little doubt that he was saved. On the other hand, he went to Spain to try to get funding for a Western expedition to the Indies. The king and queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, were thoroughly Catholic and almost guaranteed not to be saved. One evidence is that they hated Jews, and they kicked all of the Jews out of Spain, which is ironic because Columbus was a Jew, albeit a Christian Jew.

If you research this, and I always encourage you to look into these things, you'll find some very flattering language to a "Queen" who many Catholics will want you to believe was Mary, but you'll find if you search it in context, that it was about Queen Isabella and her support of Columbus. One reason I feel that Columbus was actually saved is because even though he was a Catholic, he only worshipped and prayed to Jesus Christ and his Father. One of the ships they gave him was the Santa Maria, Saint Mary, but he didn't name her, she was named after her home port, which was called El Puerto de Santa Maria. Various crew members named her various things, the devout Catholics called her Elegant Mary, the heathens called her Dirty Mary, and others called her by the city she was made in, La Gallega. Interestingly, the name of the Santa Clara was changed to the Niña, which means little girl; the captain of this ship's name was Juan Niño, so it was a play on words.

While God can use pagans (Catholics and others) to do amazing things, I'm certain that Columbus disagreed with much of the Catholic faith and held to a more orthodox Christianity, albeit not perfectly orthodox.

In the 1400's, practically no-one believed the world was flat. Text books lie to us, because they hate God and the truth. We're going to talk about that more later. Columbus started to research a different route to China and Indonesia, a straight shot rather than going around Africa; few people believed it was impossible, but most felt that it was way too far to sail. And, if there was no land-mass between Spain and China, it would have been way too far to sail.

Columbus heard of a land possibly to the West so he decided to research it, and he did so both from the Bible, and from secular history. It started off when he heard of a body that was found in Ireland floating across the Atlantic Ocean that was neither black nor white but seemed oriental. At this point, he realized that winds around the equator blew West, and winds farther north blew East, and he felt he could sail West on one and home on the other, no-one purportedly had thought of that before.

In his research he discovered a writing by Diodorus Siculus, a first century BC Greek historian, who recorded that he had heard of a very great island many days journey from Africa. A great scientist and a Catholic named Dr. Mirabilis in the 1200's believed that the sea between Spain and India would be navigable if the winds were right, albeit he never tried it.

Columbus started to search the Bible to see what it said on the matter. He had absolute authority that the world was round,

Isaiah 40:22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in...

Job 26:10 He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.

A circle of light would require a sphere, and so there was no doubt in Columbus', or most people of his day, that the world was round.

I'm fairly certain Columbus' favorite book was Isaiah, he loved and held to the frequent mention of all types of people in all different locations following after the Living God. Columbus felt like he was divinely guided by God to sail West to fulfill a prophecy in Isaiah 60. I don't know exactly how he picked this prophecy, because looking back, I don't know if I would ascribe him to it, but it's very interesting and it very well may be a direct prophecy of Columbus.

Isaiah 60:9 Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your sons from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.

Where is Tarshish? Tarshish is in Southwestern Spain. Where did Columbus sail from? Spain, specifically Palos, which is very near to where Tarshish was in Jonah's day, albeit they are not exactly the same place so it is dangerous to force this prophecy.

Columbus had seen enough islands in his travels; Ireland, Iceland, the Aegeans, the Azores, the Canaries to believe that there would be islands across the whole ocean until he reached India. He wasn't looking for the land mass that is the Americas, but he fully expected to find islands across the ocean. He also believed that along with the winds, he would have help by ocean currents which were largely unknown of at the time, and this would keep the distance from being too long because the speed of the ships would be faster.

Psalm 8:8 ...passes along the paths of the seas.

Similarly, in the 1800's, a sailor named Matthew Fontaine Maury read this verse and started to map the ocean currents and do more research on them. He is known today as the Father of Oceanography.

No one could accuse Columbus of lack of research, he would write, "I have met and I have had discussions with wise people, ecclesiastics and laymen, Latins and Greeks, Jews and Moors and with many others of other sects. To this I found our Lord very favorable to my desire and I received from Him the spirit of intelligence: in seamanship he made me abundant, of astrology he gave what was needed, and so of geometry and arithmetic and ingeniousness in the soul and hands to draw the sphere..."

Columbus approached the King of Portugal first, and after hearing his proposal, the king turned him down. People thought he was crazy for wanting to try. Columbus would later write/pray, "At this time I both read and studied all kinds of literature: cosmography, histories, chronicles, and philosophy and other arts, to which our Lord opened my mind unmistakably to the fact that it was possible to navigate from here to the Indies, and He evoked in me the will for the execution of it; and with this fire I came to Your Highnesses. All those who heard of my plan disregarded it mockingly and with laughter. All the sciences of which I spoke were of no profit to me nor the authorities in them; only in Your Highness is my faith, and my stay. Who would doubt that this light did not come from the Holy Spirit, anyway as far as I am concerned, which comforted with rays of marvelous clarity and with its Holy and Sacred Scriptures."

So he went to Spain and they were all for his voyage, mainly for evangelization purposes, but also they wanted whichever islands that Columbus might discover. Queen Isabella sought monetary help from the Vatican, stating the purpose of the voyage "To bear the light of Christ west to the heathen undiscovered lands." There was also a lot of money to be made, and certainly that is why some people were all for the expedition.

But, the king and queen couldn't pay for it because Spain was broke fighting a war against Muslim invaders. Columbus was going to head for France to seek financing there, which would mean whichever lands he discovered would belong to France, and also Portugal seemed to be changing their minds and were going to finance Columbus, but before that happened three wealthy Spanish men, all nominally Christian Jews, decided to fund Columbus' exploration for Spain. Ironically, it seems that one of their purposes was to seek a new land in which to evade the Catholic church. It is not clear whether they were born-again Christians, non-Messianic Jews, or atheists, however it happened, their goal was to get away from the Roman church.

So Columbus sailed West to go East. They found no islands for a long time and the crew wanted to give up. Columbus told them three more days and if they hadn't spotted land, they would turn-around; land birds at this time appeared in the distance and spirits were raised. At the end of the second day, October 12th, 1492, they spotted land, an island in the Bahamas. They named it San Salvador, the Sacred Saviour. When they landed they met, after a brief search, a people that looked quite oriental, and so Columbus decided they were in India and named the people Indians. I don't understand how he thought he had sailed all the way, when he was less than half way.

Columbus instantly set out to making friends with the natives, giving them gifts and learning to communicate with them. His first journal entries after landing on October 12th were how important it was for Spain to send missionaries to these people. By November his journaling had changed slightly, he stated that he had begun to try to convert them, and he persuaded six Indians to return to Spain with him to learn Spanish, and possibly to return to their people as missionaries.

I can't sum it up better than Columbus the joy and monumental event that took place when the gospel was introduced to the new world, "Let Christ rejoice upon earth as he does in heaven, to witness the coming salvation of so many people, heretofore given over to perdition."

Columbus is the exact opposite of religious tolerance, he sought a direct route to send missionaries to a people who very much needed Christ. And while much evil came about to the American Indians because of the discovery, many have been saved by Christ and went to Heaven, which they never would have if the New World wasn't discovered. And America wasn't a utopia where everything was peachy. The people that Columbus first met, the Arawak, were in imminent danger from cannibals, the Carib, who were systematically working their way around the Bahamas causing the extinction of whole people groups by eating them.

Likewise, later the Spaniards were able to conquer the Mayans and the Aztecs with very little manpower and violence, even though they were outnumbered by ridiculously huge armies. The reason was because many of the Mayans and Aztecs wouldn't fight for their leaders because their leaders were wicked and violent and made human sacrifices. Columbus did infinite good for the kingdom of God and for souls.

But in terms of tolerance, people hate him. One Indian Chief said of him in 1992, "Columbus makes Hitler look like a juvenile delinquent." So the Columbus they teach about in school, who loved wealth and titles more than anything, is not the Columbus of history who loved Jesus Christ and sought to see souls saved from perdition, Hell, for eternity. Columbus did like money, and sometimes he would go on mini-expeditions just in search of gold and spices. However, he used a great deal of his wealth to fund missionaries not to the New World, but to Jerusalem, and at the end of his life he had very little wealth remaining, but that is how he intended it. On money he would say, "He who has gold makes and accomplishes whatever he wishes in the world, and finally uses it to send souls to paradise."

So what do we learn?

First of all, the Bible is all about science. It is not science versus the Bible, it is science and the Bible versus enemies of God.

Second of all, education is great if you are putting it to action for glorifying God. Trigonometry was reasonably new in Columbus' day, yet without it there is no way he would have been able to find the same islands on his return voyage. Magellan would also use Trigonometry when he sailed around the world.

Third, Columbus used what he was good at to glorify God. He was a great seaman and navigator. It is said that his handwriting was fantastic, so much so that he was offered jobs to be a scribe. He also could have become a wool-worker like his father, but he took what God had made him best at and used it for eternity and the glory of God.

Forth of all, Columbus was a great Christian whose main goal was the evangelization of new people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. He took verses likeMatthew 24:24, 28:19-20, andMark 16:15 literally and seriously.

Fifth of all, tolerance is stupid. Lest people repent and turn to Jesus Christ, they will perish, and we need to be doing the same as Columbus did, seeking to convert everyone we run into, and refusing to compromise on the absolute truth of the scriptures.

Sixth of all, you can do pretty much whatever you want to with your money. The best place to invest it is in the kingdom of Heaven, where you use it to win souls into paradise. This is a running theme in the Bible, that we only have one life, and it will soon be past, and only what's done for Christ will last.

Seventh of all, and probably most important, I'll let Columbus sum up, "No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His service."

In conclusion, after it became apparent that what Columbus had discovered was not India or China, but was indeed something quite different, he would sum up his whole life in one pithy statement, "God made me the messenger of the New Heaven and the New Earth."

God has likewise made you a messenger of the New Heaven and the New Earth, for without Christ, souls will perish. Find what you are best at and use it to glorify God in your body and your speech. Preach Christ at every opportunity, and trust in his sovereignty that the works you are walking in were prepared before time began so we rightly represent Christ to all the world, for until the gospel is preached to every nation, the end will not come. We want 1 Peter 2:10 to be true for all people groups.

1 Peter 2:10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Finally, challenge teachers when they try to teach that Columbus was only in it for wealth, and that people thought he would sail over the edge of the world and die, tell them that is stupid and is willfully being ignorant of the truth.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Youth is Like a Flower Cut Down

With the death of Steve Jobs, we are reminded that something is not right in the world, that God has put speed bumps in our daily path to declare to us that all is not as it should be in regards to life and health. Death entered into the world through Adam, but beloved, don't be quick to blame Adam, for it is the soul that sins that shall die, and death has passed from Adam to all men because all sin.

The following is an excerpt from Jonathan Edwards' sermon "Youth is Like a Flower Cut Down", preached twice in his life, once for a friend's son, and second for his own daughter, in order to use their deaths to point others to the Lifegiver, Christ Jesus.
'So youth is an age wherein persons are commonly full of hopes and promises to themselves of the good and prosperity they shall see in the world. They are just entering upon the stage of the world, and they promise themselves much that they shall see and enjoy afterwards. And their parents and friends are also ready to promise themselves much future comfort in them, and are full of hope of seeing them settled, and oftentimes are full of hope of the figure they will make in the world.

What you have heard from the Word of God, you have lately seen verified in the providence of God. There have been several instances of it in this town. God tells you in his Word, and has now been telling you, how that man "cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down"; and he has not only told you so, but he has been showing of you that it is so. He has cut down one flower after another of those that were but lately come forth, that were as it were just in the blossom. He has spoken not only once, but twice, nigh thrice. God is pleased to cut down some to warn others. It would be a stupid hardness and provoking obstinancy in you to disregard one such warning; but God has repeated his witness and has called to you with so awful and solemn a voice once, and again, and again.

He was young as you are. He was in like circumstances with many of you. A little while ago he appeared as likely to live as you. But yet now he is gone. And you are yet spared. You as yet have an opportunity to prepare for death.'
This sermon was alternately titled, God is pleased to cut down some to warn others. Was Steve Jobs a more wicked man than you? Are you better than him? In God's eyes we are as debase as we can be, Jobs had an amazing creativity and imagination, but God says that the intents of all of our imaginations are only evil continually (Genesis 6:5). We cannot speculate as to why Jobs lived so long or died so young, this is a secret thing of God, but we do know why he died, because he was a son of Adam and a sinner himself.

But beloved, you yet live, you as yet have an opportunity to prepare for death! A death has occurred that redeems from the transgressions committed by Adam and his descendants! Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, lived a perfect life, did nothing deserving of death, and yet gave his life as a ransom to pay for the transgressions of his people. He defeated death three days later, proving to be God and proving to have the power over death and sin. He did not come to condemn the world, the world is condemned already, but that through him the world may be saved.

Look to the cross where the King of Life died, it is empty, his work is finished. Look to the tomb where the Lord of Light lay, it is empty, he is risen. Put your faith in the one who took on death and crushed it underfoot, he is your only hope, he is your only salvation. Prepare for death while you yet have time!