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Showing posts from November, 2009

On the Priority of Revelation

From the Riches of Grace , Vol.22: Our F ellowship was born not only in revival, but in revelation as well … Age priorities are established here: election, with its design of christ character, is treated as the central sun of God’s eternal purpose; all other teachings, however much we value them, are regarded as so many planetary satellites. The real danger is for other things to thrust themselves forward for priority: such as the flair for so-called Latter Rain; sensationalism which shows itself in exaggerated claims to Pentecostal endowments; platform showmanship; and other Gospel gimmicks. Sensationalism unaccompanied with the supernatural is definitely not of God . W e need leaders as Paul, stabilised by individual r evelation from God, and uninfluenced by every new wind of doctrine that c omes along. I f we change our views every time some thing new comes on the spiritual market, it is a sign we have either lost our vision or never had one. I n the same way, if we devot

Learning about Worship from Luther

This seems to be a Luther themed week (although these thoughts on worship have been working on my mind since before I saw the Cranach painting). Martin Luther had some concerns about worship. He wasn't happy with what corporate worship had become in his day, and so for him the Reformation needed to include a reform of worship, not just of doctrine. You see the two go hand in hand. What we believe has an effect on how we worship, and the way we worship will, in the long run, have an effect on what we believe. Luther was combating works-righteousness - the idea that you could contribute to your salvation by your good works. Luther saw in the Scriptures that 'the just shall live by faith' (Rom 1:17), that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, 'not by works lest any man should boast' (Eph 2:8-9). And so Luther responded by preaching the Gospel of justification by faith alone as a result of Christ's saving work alone. But that wasn't enough. It wa

A Picture of True Preaching

I came across a picture this week which fascinates me. It was painted by Lucas Cranach, a Reformation era German painter. Cranach knew Luther, and indeed painted the famous picture by which Luther's face is best known. But Cranach did not only paint what he saw. He also had a habit of expressing theology through painting. Often these theological paintings were for the decoration of Lutheran churches. The one I noticed this week was for the altar in St Mary's Church in Wittenberg (home town of the Reformation). This Cranach painting is in many ways quite simple. It consists of a large stone room. At one end, Martin Luther stands in the pulpit, looking straight ahead, with one hand pointing to the open Bible and the other hand pointing straight ahead. At the other end of the room are the congregation. They are listening to Luther's preaching and looking forwards. However, they are not looking at Luther. And Luther, well, he's not pointing at the congregation. You see,

Drawing Near through our Mediator

If Christ's whole life was vicarious, every aspect of piety was on our behalf and in our place. It is his faith, his obedience, his faithfulness, his prayer which avails for us. As our great high priest, he offers up worship and praise acceptable to a holy God, the fruit of a life of perfect faithfulness, flawless and pure. By virtue of that perfect intercession we are acceptable to God, having been brought by the grace of God to entrust ourselves into his hands. We therefore have full and open access to God precisely because Christ himself has full and open access to God. It is fully and only in Christ's mediation that we have such confidence to know that the way is open. Robert Letham, The Work of Christ (Leicester: IVP, 1993), p. 118

The Key to the Success of the Reformation

Saturday was Reformation Day, the anniversary of the day in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, thus beginning the Protestant Reformation. I like Reformation Day. It's not a holiday. Nothing special happens. But just the day itself is a reminder of the Reformation, and I like the Reformation. Even though it's something that happened nearly half a millennium ago, the Reformation is still of huge importance. Why? Well, simply because Martin Luther and his fellow reformers helped recover the Gospel and make it widely known. The Reformation was all about the Gospel; at he heart of the 5 Solas of the Reformation is the Gospel: Sola Scriptura - Scripture alone Sola Gratia - grace alone Sola Fide - faith alone Solus Christus - Christ alone Soli Deo Gloria - to the glory of God alone Thinking about the Reformation this weekend, I was struck again by some comments of Martin Luther himself about the success of the Reformat