Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The gift of confidence

Today is Reformation Day. Many Christians remember and celebrate the fact that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a church over 500 years ago – launching upheavals in the Roman Catholic Church and facilitating the birth of many new churches. Luther challenged the view that salvation is partly a matter of man’s works, countering this with the truth of the gospel of grace. Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection for us saves us from our sins – we could never be good enough to save ourselves.

Reformation Day is a reminder that the freedom we have in the gospel is hard-won, by men and women who sacrificed comfort and acceptability to proclaim the message of grace. The work that these people did has given many millions of people the gift of confidence in God’s saving work. No longer do God’s people have to labour under the burden of uncertainty about whether they have “measured up” to a standard that will allow them to enter heaven. They can have confidence that Christ has met that standard for them.

I am blessed to be part of a group of churches that commemorates this day with “Reformation Sunday” every year. Many Presbyterian and Reformed churches meet together to speak and sing about what God has done. Sadly, many churches outside of the Presbyterian and Reformed traditions do not choose to remember the events that occurred at the Reformation. The Reformation paved the way for all churches – Pentecostal and Reformed, Baptist and Presbyterian – to have confidence that salvation is assured through Christ. All Protestant churches are the beneficiaries of the revival of this truth. All can celebrate this gladly on Reformation Day.

It is worth remembering those who enabled us to sing with confidence the following words from “In Christ Alone”:

‘Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the pow’r of Christ in me . . .
No pow’r of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til he returns or calls me home
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

It is even more worthwhile to pause and remember to thank God that he did not allow his people to continue to live in uncertainty. Rather, he sent people to remind us of his certain gift of salvation for all who believe. Pause, and remember the marvellous things that God has done for his people.

I wrote this post in response to Tim Challies' call for Reformation Day posts.


  1. Good post! and love the hymn...we sing this often at church...we just love it! (dave and I)...Happy Reformation Day!

  2. And of course I hope you realise that there are two sides to every story.

    And what to have to say to God for letting the billions of other Christians across the world that fall into other Church's besides the Protestant one's - did God leave them in the darkness.

    And what all the Christains that lived for thousands of years and died before God chose to reaveal the 'truth'. I supoose they were just born in the wrong time in history?

    The post is ironic considering the topic it is posted above - a fact that that there is no unified 'Protestant' tecahing on the matter. The truth is not meant to be subjective, but on this topic, I suppose God is happy for his true Church's to each teach there own.

  3. hello Faith, thanks for your encouragment! How lovely that you sing the same song at your church!

    Hi Anonymous - God has not left those outside the Protestant church in darkness. In many cases, he has provided God's word for them too . . . and the truth it contains about salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8 - 9).

    It is very rare for Protestant churches to teach a works based salvation. They are very similar in their teaching on this matter.

    I pray that you too may experience the joy of knowing the certainty of the salvation Christ provided through his death and resurrection . . . which alone has the power to wipe away our sins.

  4. Agnes said:

    There are many issues here.

    Firstly, do Church's outside the boundary Protestanism or more specifially the Catholic Church authoratively teach salvation by 'works'.

    The truth is to simply make this accusation is too simplistic.

    I think you will find that the Catholic (and other traditions) teaching is not salvation can be "earned" salvation our faith in Christ puts us in a special grace-filled relationship with God so that our obedience and love, combined with our faith, will be rewarded with eternal life.

    Therefore this teaching can lay claim to be by 'grace alone'.

    Secondly, the Bible passage from Ephesians 2:8-8 is not the sole passage on the matter in the Bible and has to be weighed up with other Bible passages such as in the Book of Romans and James.

    Lastly, who was Martin Luther and by who's authority or blantantly why should we trust this one man alone and hold his teachings as truth.

  5. Hello Agnes!

    Thanks a lot for giving your name, as it is great to be able to address you as someone other than "anonymous"!

    I have another anonymous comment (assumedly from the same person who sent the first) that I consider to be a bit rude, and is also centrally a reiteration of the last one. A few of legitimate issues were raised, some of which are the same as Agnes' queries/complaints:

    "Unless you can show me otherwise, I do not know of any Christain Church that teaches what you claim.

    Had it ever occured to you that you have misrepresented or have a misunderstanding of what another tradition teaches?

    If what you say is true, that faiths that claim to be Christain that are outside the 'Protestant' tradition are in 'darkness'"

    I appreciate it that you have taken the time to share your perspectives. It is a joy to have the opportunity to further explain what I believe the Bible teaches about salvation.

    However, right now I do not have time . . . my brother's wedding is in a few hours time!

    I will simply note in the interum that I have done a lot of study about alternate traditions, especially Catholicism. I hope to explain this further in future.

    In the mean time, I am hoping that others may be able to make some headway into replying to you.

    God bless!

  6. The Bible is very clear that one must be born again (born of the Spirit) in order to enter heaven/have eternal life. Faith without works is dead the mercy and grace of God, we do not earn our is a free gift that we can either accept or reject. The free gift? Salvation/redemption from sin through the blood of Jesus who died on the cross, was risen again and is coming back to earth someday! There are many people who say they are "christian" meaning not another religion but.... a true Christian is one who is saved/born again. Salvation, by grace, through faith in Jesus!