About a year ago we published several articles on how we came to have the Bible in our English language. As you may remember, the Bible came to us at a great cost, as many people lost their life in the struggle between the Catholic clergy and the common folks, who through men that God had called, for that very hour, had received a taste of the Word of God and wanted to read it for themselves.
The struggle for the true Word of God still exists today, except it is now done in such a nice civil manner as not even to be noticed. But all major religions from Mormonism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Jehovah Witnesses, Islam, etc., have their own versions of the Bible, or their own “holy books.” Few of the evangelical churches teach the entire Bible, choosing rather to speak on social issues and write their own books on how to be a good Christian.
To be clear, let’s go back to the beginning: After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the apostles and all who became Christian believers, suffered terrible persecution. Yet the Church grew as it always has during times of trials. When the church is rich and prosperous it dies.
During the reign of Constantine the church became legal and accepted. For the most part it was no longer persecuted. Sometime during this era the Catholic church came into being. It departed from the Word of God as the ONLY guide to godly living and added sacraments, traditions and ceremonies which had to be performed in order to gain salvation. The Old Testament and the writings of the apostles were in the hands of the clergy only, and they translated the Word to the people as they saw it. They became powerful and rich, the Pope ruling very much like a king.
God gave men like William Tyndale, John Wycliffe and Martin Luther a desire for all men to read and study the Word of God for themselves. These men and many others were part of the church and came out of it, knowing full well the error of the teachings; and having a desire to correct those errors and set people free form the bondages the church had inflicted upon them.
On November 10, 1483 Martin Luther was born in Germany. I don’t for a minute question the fact that God called this man to lead the
Reformation. The church had through the ages fallen into a state of total corruption teaching heresy and selling God’s free spirit of salvation.
Luther’s father was determined to see his son as a lawyer and sent him to several schools and universities. He received a Masters degree in 1505 and he then entered law school only to please his father. But soon he dropped out of law school. He believed that the law represented uncertainty. He sought assurance about life and was drawn to theology and philosophy and the scriptures became increasingly important to him.
This is the way God, by the Holy Spirit, draws men unto Himself. If you are called and chosen by God, it’s very likely that there will be an unrest in your heart, a longing for something that you may not even have the words for.
Luther was in that state of mind as he was returning on horse back from a visit home. There came up a thunderstorm and a lightening bolt struck near him on the road. Being terrified of death and divine judgment, he cried out to a saint, “help me and I will become a monk.”
So he entered a monastery as he felt that his cry for help had been a vow he could never break. He devoted himself to long hours of prayer, fasting and frequent confession. He described this period of his life as one of deep spiritual despair. He became a priest, earned many degrees in theology and later taught at a university in Wittenberg, Germany.
And so Martin Luther was fully, in every way, a part of the Catholic church, and so it had to be in order for any of this reformer’s words to have any power behind them. God had led him there and so it had to be that he had all the scriptures available to him. Most of the public at that time did not have Bibles and had to trust in the word of priests.
As Luther read and studied, the error of the church’s teachings became clear to him. He explained his concept of justification in an article:
“Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification (Romans 3:24-25). He alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), and God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). All have sinned and are justified freely, without their oun works and merits, by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood. This is necessary to believe. This cannot be otherwise acquired or grasped by any work, law or merit. Therefore, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us. Nothing of this article can be yielded or surrendered, even though heaven and earth and everything falls (Mark 13:31).”
Luther also said, “I am bound by the scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.”
Luther wrote a “95 Thesis” pointing out error in the church. One of the most important points he raised in his thesis was the sale of indulgences by the church. No one but God can forgive sin and He will not forgive sin by our contribution of money to the church or by our good works, confessions or prayers. If we think that our works can have any part in our salvation we are in effect accusing Jesus Christ of not having done enough by His death on the cross. This is heresy.
On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis on the door of the church at Wittenberg and so the reformation had begun. Luther was ex-communicated by the Pope, and his life was in danger. It was made a crime to give Luther food or shelter and it was legal to kill him and without consequences. The short story here is that he continued to write and lecture a great deal but he was always on the move or hiding. He died in 1546.
And that was the beginning of our Protestant faith, which has since divided into various churches, all having some little difference or the other which divide them. In Luke 18:8 Jesus asks the question, “when the Son of Man comes will He really find faith on the earth?” I think not, and I think that faith is such an elusive word, few have any idea what it actually means.
Reading the Bible for most people can be discouraging. We have been given the concept by the church and by society as a whole, that the Bible is a set of rules to live by. It is so much more than that. It’s the history and the stories of the lives of men and women, their struggles, sorrows and joys. It is prophecy, much of which has been fulfilled already. Most of all it’s a glimpse of who God is, from creation and on into eternity, how He loves and cherishes His people, knows their every thought, and how He provided a Savior after the fall of mankind.
I think most everyone knows that the New Testament was written in Greek. There are words in the Greek that the English language falls very short of in translating because there is no exact English word for some of the Greek words. So English cannot convey the exact meaning of certain words and sentences from the Greek. There was no word in English for the word “FAITH“, so the translators chose to use the word “BELIEVE.” But believe is only a small component of the word faith.
To quote Dr. Scott, “faith is an ACT, based upon BELIEF, and sustained by CONFIDENCE.” If you think that you have to meet a certain standard of
behavior in order to please God or be saved, you are wrong. The Son of God did not give His life to save the righteous. He came to save sinning mankind, which is what we all are. It has nothing to do with the act of sin. it’s the sin principle indwelling every person born. We are all equal before Him. All are lost and born in sin.
Its common knowledge that our behavior should be a certain way. A lifestyle lived with certain social values will be a better life. But that has nothing to do with gaining an entrance into Heaven.
The teachings of the eastern religions have entered the church and today it is all about meditating to a new state of being and doing kind, loving acts. It’s a “we can do it” type of life.
FAITH is an action word unlike BELIEVE. We are supposed to grow from faith to faith, if we are on the Christian walk. So how do we achieve faith? “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). As you read the Word of God and learn the ways of God faith will grow into a CONFIDENCE in God by faith. The circumstances of life that gave us a lot of worry and stress a year ago, we should be able to breeze through today, because our confidence in God has grown and so our faith has increased.
We can discover a lot about God by studying how He dealt with Abraham, Moses, and David, just to mention a few. I love the 11th chapter of Hebrews because not once are the sins of those heroes listed mentioned. They were honored for their faith alone! They had all sinned. By the way, sin is missing the mark, falling short of God. It’s not a long list of do’s and don’ts. The harlot Rahab did not have a life to be proud of. I doubt she would have been accepted into any church today. Yet she was cataloged among all the others like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua. And it was said of her and the others, “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38).
This is why I love God. In spite of their shortcomings He saw them pure and cleansed. This is because through the sacrificial death on the cross His Son had paid for all their sins and shortcomings. All that was left was their faith, and God saw them as heroes.
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28). The justified believer has been declared by the Judge Himself to have nothing laid to his charge. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). I
would have to quote to you nearly all of Romans and Galatians to show all the proof of the fact that it is faith and not works that counts with God.
So why has all of the religious world kept on practicing their rituals, rules of all kinds, from covered heads to counting beads? Jesus summed it all up clearly when He said “teaching as doctrines the commandment of MEN” (Matthew 15:9). If it is not found in the Bible, then it is of man’s own invention.
Martin Luther made a statement in one of his books that must have shocked a lot of people: “Better to be a whore, than a self righteous legalist. A harlot knows that what she is doing will not get her into Heaven and so she will cry out to God. But the self righteous legalist is not only a sinner, but fools himself into thinking that his behavior will get him to heaven.”
Jesus backed up Luther’s statement when the chief priests and elders came to Jesus questioning His authority to teach the things He did. In Matthew 21 Jesus answers them in parables, starting at the end of verse 31: “Assuredly I say to you that the tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterwards relent and believe him.”
If you still think that being a good person and believing in God is the way toward eternal life with God, then think about the thief on the cross with Jesus. How much time had he spent being a good and kind person? None that I know of. But he first recognized his own sinfulness and that he deserved his punishment, and that Jesus did not deserve the same. In that short period of time he became aware of the fact that this Man was truly who He had claimed to be, the Son of God. So he asked to be remembered, maybe that’s all he expected. But Jesus, with the love we cannot comprehend or understand, reached out and said, “assuredly, I say to you today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Of the thief we can truly say that he was saved by faith alone.
What confuses some folks is that they see people of faith also performing good works. But that’s the fruit of the Holy Spirit that you see. Hopefully all of us here are aware that nothing we do is saving us. The “good” that we may do is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us. It’s God in us that causes any good works. It is not works done in order to be accepted by God. We are already accepted in Christ.
I hope that makes it clear. It’s the “works” that the religious establishment, in one form or another, want you to take a part of in order to
be saved, that are totally wrong. An example of this is being forced in one way or another to confess at the alter and say the sinner’s prayer; Or evangelists who try to get you to send a “seed” so that you will be blessed. We are blessed already because we are accepted in Christ Jesus.
I remember being forced one Sunday afternoon years ago to go from house to house inviting people to come to church. These people were offended and irritated at being disturbed on a Sunday afternoon. Then there is the obsession that some people have of handing out tracts and pamphlets.
I think that most people take communion as a ritual, repeat prayers, cross themselves, or get on their knees a number of times during the day. All this is done as works because the people feel it is required for salvation. I believe that God is offended at a great part of these works. His Son died to give us eternal life and a full pardon for all we have done, and will do , and all we ARE! We can add nothing to that.
The Apostle Paul summed it up best: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“The devil is not fighting religion. He’s too smart for that. He is producing a counterfeit Christianity, so much like the real one that good Christians are afraid to speak out against it. We are plainly told in the Scriptures that in the last days men will not endure sound doctrine and will depart from the faith and heap to themselves teachers to tickle their ears. We live in an epidemic of this itch, and popular preachers have developed “ear-tickling” into a fine art.”
“Playing Marbles With Diamonds”
“God has left enough ‘footprints.’ He doesn’t owe us a sign. Only one sign is needed, the sign of Jonah.”
-Dr. Gene Scott
“Eternity hangs by the integrity of God.”
-Dr. Gene Scott
Prayer Requests for October, 2012
For our long-time friend, Willie Clark (Lubbock, Tx). He has cancer around his brain and the right side of his face. He has already lost hearing in his ear and is fighting to keep sight in his eye.
For Dennis Martin (Lexington, Oklahoma) who just had another heart surgery.
For Ken Hogan (death row, McAlester, OK), who injured his elbow.
For John Crutcher (in Oklahoma) who needs a liver transplant.
For Gary David (Holdenville, OK) who needs new glasses.
For Johnny Carruthers (Florence, Arizona) who is borderline diabetic. His feet hurt.
For Artravius Thomas’ friends (Illinois): Pastor Daniel Swets and Pastor Bob Veles (Woodale, Illinois), both for health.
For McKinley Perry (Illinois), that God keeps a hedge of protection around him.
For Michael Small’s step-mother Suzanne (Illinois) who is being treated for vision problems.
For Gary David’s uncle (Oklahoma), who is fighting lung cancer.
For William Holland (Joliet, Illinois), for favor with the courts.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), for a lower custody level.
For Anthony Grayson (Shawangunk, New York), that his health gets better, and that he finds legal assistance.
For Jimmy Huff (Colorado City, Texas), for health.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas).
For Freddie Lee Lott (Dixon, Illinois), to keep his healing and stay cancer free.
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence will prove his innocence.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread, especially for Brian and for Gail. Brian is making slow but steady progress.
For those of you who have been asking about the Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. I am glad to report what I consider to be a miracle because the pastor was freed a couple of weeks ago. As most of you know, in 2010 he was found guilty of apostasy and sentenced to death for refusing to recant Christianity and has spent the last three years in jail awaiting his fate. The Huffington Post and other online news sources reported on September 8th that Iranian officials ultimately lowered his charges from apostasy to evangelizing Muslims, which carried a three-year term. Nadarkhani was therefore released with time served. The mainstream media has barely, if ever, reported on this story, so this will be news to most of you. If anyone would like to read the full story, let me know. If God can change the heart of those Iranian judges, then there is hope for all of you. ®
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