Saturday, October 29, 2016

Reformation 2016; Let's Reform The Way we Talk about Salvation

We are a few days away from Reformation Day, remembering Oct 31st, 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the castle door in Wittenberg Germany. The 95 Theses were the errors that Luther saw in the church that he wanted to address. He didn't mean to start the Protestant Reformation, but the wheels began turning and things began to change.

I am not wanting to debate if the Reformation was a good thing, if it went far enough or it's validity. What I want to discuss is the need for a new Reformation, or perhaps an on going reformation. One of Luther's main issues was that salvation was being purchased or achieved through works, through sacraments, through artifacts and icons. Salvation wasn't found in Christ alone. Today, we face an issue that salvation is talked about using very unbiblical language and based more on emotionalism that on faith. We push people to say a prayer and celebrate them making a good choice, and God has become auxiliary to many of the "experiences" that people have. The aspects of conviction and repentance have been replaced by feelings and decision.

When Peter preached at Pentecost, he told the people to repent. There was no talk of praying or coming forward to making a decision. The act of salvation was not laid out as a formula because Peter understood that salvation is a miraculous event that happens through the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter understood, as seen in his epistle of 2 Peter, that assurance of salvation doesn't happen until you have demonstrated growth in your Christian life over time.

In the modern church, we have tried to make salvation an act that is controlled by the will of man, when it fact it's a working of God in the Holy Spirit. We are simply told to command people to repent, to tell them truth and give them instruction. Those who the Spirit works, those who are saved will grow and mature in faith. They will begin to show fruit and will live out the Christian life. Those who are not saved will depart from the faith because they don't have they don't have the power of the Spirit.

We don't like the ability to not control and count those who are saved. We have rejected the Biblical teaching and instead focused on control and man's effort. We have made false converts by telling them they can control something that only God can do. Despite the popular Christian song, dead men cannot tell their hearts to beat again. The dead must be raised by God, and only God can do so.

Let's preach the truth of repentance, following and obeying. Let's tell people to make their salvation sure by following the teachings and commands of Christ. Let's toss out the unbiblical language and man made rhetoric that deceives people. There will be many individuals who believed themselves to be "saved" on judgement day who will hear "depart from me". They will be looking at the church, feeling betrayed.

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