The 95 Theses

October 29, 2010

 

With everyone abuzz about costumes and candy this weekend, Bethel Grace is emphasizing another holiday.  October 31 is Reformation Day, remembering a day to truly celebrate!   Justin Holcomb explains

“Reformation Day (October 31) commemorates Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This act triggered the Reformation, as they were immediately translated and distributed across Germany in a matter of weeks. The Protestant Reformation was the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification—salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone—and the protest against the corruption within the Roman Catholic Church.”

As we prepare for our celebration of this great day, I encourage you to read through the 95 Theses.  Here is a more literal translationHere is a very helpful paraphrase/summary of each one.   As you read through them, I think you’ll be interested to find that Luther was still very much Roman Catholic when he wrote them.  You’ll notice his lingering belief in purgatory and the authority of the pope.  You’ll find unbiblical doctrine.  But clearly, God was working in Luther to refine his theology, a work (as with us all) that was not complete until he went home to glory. 

 The statements that inspired me are found in 1, 3, 27, 28, 36, 37, 45, 48, 50, 51, 55,     86 (!), 90, among others.    

And one more helpful item…   Christi Eaton, one of the younger members of the Bethel Grace family (12 years old), also has provided a very helpful explanation of the history of Reformation Day in the paper wrote for school.  See it below!

I’m looking forward to a great weekend!!!
Pastor Jeff
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This Sunday we are going to enjoy a Reformation Day Faire at Bethel Grace.  Reformation Day celebrates God’s purification of the Church in the Protestant Reformation.  The Reformation was set into motion when Martin Luther tacked his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church on October 31, 1517.

At 9:00 am we will gather all our Sunday school classes into the Fellowship Hall to think about the “Five Solas of the Reformation.”  Then at 10:30 am we will sing powerful, historic hymns and rejoice in the core doctrine of  justification through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone.  Then we will enjoy some In-n-Out Burgers on the church patio, have a jousting tournament, and enjoy some time with the church family.  Looking forward to a great day!

In the meantime, I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on the history of the Reformation.  I recommend these messages by RC Sproul explaining all that prompted Martin Luther to compose the 95 Theses and pin them to the Wittenburg door.

The Making of the Protestant Reformation, Pt.1
The Making of the Protestant Reformation, Pt.2

Enjoy!,
Pastor Jeff

Pray for Opportunities

October 18, 2010

I flew to Sacramento recently on flight 262. I’ve never remembered my flight number before, but this flight was very different. As I do when I am flying, I began praying for the people sitting next to me. I was praying for an opportunity for the gospel. I know most people are praying quite the opposite, “please don’t sit by me” as they see each person walk the center aisle, gazing at their ticket. One by one people came in and no one sat next to me. I had a grandmother with her 2 year old grandchild who was in desperate need of discipline in the aisle across from me—her hands were beyond full. I had a business meeting going on in the aisle in front of me. There was literally no one that would be available to talk about spiritual things, so I thought. I continued to pray that a “door would be opened” to me for the gospel (Col 4:2-3). If I only knew what would happen in just over an hour on the flight from Long Beach to Sacramento.

The moment the plane landed I knew something was wrong. The plane lunged forward as if the brakes were on. Then we heard a loud “POP” from under the plane. Coming to the fastest stop I’ve ever experienced on an aircraft, my heart was racing! Just then “FLIGHT CREW, PREPARE FOR EGRES”, the captain called over the loud speaker.  Having been in the Air Force I knew what that meant, (Emergency, Ground, Escape). The flight crew sprung into action, popping open the emergency hatches and deploying the inflatable slides. “WE NEED TO EXIT THE AIR CRAFT, EVERYONE OFF, EVERYONE OFF NOW!” The fastest landing ever was followed by the speediest de-boarding ever.

I helped the 2 year old and his grandmother down the aisle and then down the slide following right behind. At the bottom we were rushed to safety (about 100 yards away) where we were able to see flames coming from the landing gear. The grandmother thanked me for helping her and said, “thank God we’re all OK.” And then I got it. In His wonderful sovereignty God gave me the opportunity I was praying for. I was able to share with the Grandmother who I had considered to be unapproachable with the gospel. God is sovereign even over malfunctioning airplane brakes and old tires, for His purposes. Our job: pray for opportunities and be ready to respond when He gives them to us.

Blessings, Alvin