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"No Fear" Part 9

—Sunday Sermon—


Standing Firm

-Martin Luther

I’ve heard it said that:


“If you don’t stand for something,

You will fall for anything.”


Martin Luther was one that worked hard at standing for the right things so that he would not fall for the wrongthings.


Martin Luther was born in Germany in 1483, nine years before Columbus discovered America.  At 18, he studied to be a lawyer.  At nineteen, in the middle of a thunderstorm, he vowed that if his life was spared, he would become a monk.  God spared him and Luther did live up to his promise. He became a priest, and receiving a doctorate, taught at the University of Wittenberg.  While there he pointed out many of the practices of the Catholic Church at that time that he found to be unbiblical.  As a Catholic priest who loved his Church, he wanted to help return it to sound Biblical teaching. He wrote 95 statements against the practices of that time of “selling indulgences for the forgiveness of sins.” 


Luther found indulgences and the idea of paying money to obtain forgiveness of sin unbiblical.  He wanted to discuss his 95 statements with his colleagues at the university.  This practice was contrary to being “saved by grace through faith” and “not by works.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)  These letters of indulgences supposedly offered people the opportunity to pay money to receive forgiveness for some of their sins, and doing less time in Purgatory. Purgatory is actually not a biblical teaching and does not exist. That is wonderful news if you thought that it did. There will be no waiting to get to heaven when your life is complete here on earth. You will immediately be in heaven. It was wrongly taught that Purgatory was a place where Christians could “purge” themselves of sin. 

Luther’s “protest” against these teachings later would lead to non-Catholics being called “Protestants.” 

Even though he had the 95 statements (called the 95 Theses) tacked up on the public bulletin board (which at that time was the church door), the meeting was never to take place.  Luther would eventually be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

The people who agreed with Luther that forgiveness comes only by grace through faith in Jesus and not through buying one’s way into heaven by good works or money were called “Lutherans”.

There are three great principles that serve as our Lutheran foundation:  “Grace alone”, “Faith alone” and “Scripture alone.”

There were many other Christian denominations that sprang up as a result of the Reformation of Luther’s day as well as many other reformers throughout the years, faithful to God’s Word and the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.  It is a high probability that one or more of these denominations are a part of your religious family tree.  There are six main parts or chief parts of Luther’s Catechism, namely:  Ten Commandments, Creeds, Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Confession, and Communion. 

KNOWING WHERE TO STAND

The 1st part of Standing Firm in life is knowing WHERE to stand.

Luther echoed the Bible in knowing where to stand with what he called the

“3 Solas”

“Sola” means “alone”

The three things that Luther said needed to stand alone and not get watered down or added to were;

1. GRACE

2. FAITH

3. SCRIPTURE


GRACE ALONE


“It is by GRACE you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the GIFT of God— 

not by works, 

[We are forgiven and saved by God’s grace and not by;

 1.) Doing good things and  

2.) Refraining from doing bad things] 

so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus 

to do good works, 

[God wants us to do good works, but not for the purpose of earning his grace.

He wants us to do them out of appreciation for the free gift of forgiveness that he, in his grace has given us.]

which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

- Ephesians 2:8-10

FAITH ALONE


“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation… For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed— a righteousness that is by FAITH from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by FAITH.'” 

- Romans 1:17  A Key vs. for Luther

SCRIPTURE ALONE


“All SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

- 2 Timothy 3:16,17 


The “Scripture Alone” principle elevates “The Holy Bible” (Scripture) above all other authorities.

So, if any Church, Pastor, Christian, Church Tradition, etc. contradicts the Bible, then it is wrong and not to be believed or followed.

One main wrong-tradition was that the important people were the church leaders (The Pope, Priests, etc)

Luther said that that was not true.

PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS

Don’t miss the fact that God is talking about you and all of us in this verse.

“As you come to him, the living Stone, [Jesus] rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him, you also, [us] like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood [us] … You [us] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, [us]a holy nation, God’s special possession [us]… you have received mercy.”

-1 Peter 2:4,5,9


Luther said that the Celebate-Life (the un-married life) of the Priest was not necessarily a better way of life.

He argues for a domestic life, rather than the ecclesiastical or Clergy life

In June of 1525 Luther married a nun named Catherine Von Bora.

They went on to have six children.


He believed that of all his revolutionary ideas, the change that he made to “marriage” 

was among the most important.

Luther loved to say that the mother washing diapers is doing something far more pleasing to God than the monk saying his prayers.

We are called by God to everyday life.

Luther had a problem with the fact that for centuries church tradition with its rules and regulations had been placing a heavy burden on the backs of believers.

Jesus addressed this same thing two thousand years earlier when he said;

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, 

and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

– Mt 11:28-30

95 THESES AND THE DRAMA TO FOLLOW

October 31, 1517

Luther wrote 95 statements 

against the practices of that time of “Selling indulgences for forgiveness.”

He placed them on the public bulletin board (which at that time was the church door), the meeting was never to take place.  

November 9, 1518

Pope condemned Luther’s writings as conflicting with the teachings of the Church. 

1519 – July 1520

For the next year, a series of commissions examined Luther’s teachings. 

The 1st papal commission found them to be “Heretical”.

“Heresy” = A belief or an opinion that goes against generally accepted doctrine or teaching.

In this case it was against the teaching of the Catholic Church of that day.

But the second papal commission merely stated that Luther’s writings were,

 “scandalous and offensive to pious ears.” 


Finally, in 

July 1520

Pope Leo X issued a papal bull (public decree) that concluded that Luther’s propositions were heretical and gave him 120 days to recant in Rome. 

See Luther quotes of his refusal to recant or take back what he said and believed below.

January 3, 1521

Pope Leo excommunicated Martin Luther from the Catholic Church.

LUTHER QUOTES

Luther was a mentor for what it meant to “stand firm”.

Here are some of his quotes during the time that the Church was in the process of trying to get him to recant his 95 Theses, etc.

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason (I do not accept the authority of popes and councils because they have contradicted each other), my conscience is captive to the Word of God.”

“I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. So help me God. Amen.”

“Unless I am proved wrong by Scriptures or by evident reason then I am a prisoner in conscience to the Word of God.”


“I cannot retract and I will not retract. To go against the conscience is neither safe nor right.”

“Here I stand, I can do no other, 

so help me God. Amen.”  

[Perhaps Luther’s most famous line.]

PETER STOOD FIRM

I know that Peter was famous for denying Jesus, but he was one that also gave many examples of standing firm.

It was he who answered Jesus’ question of whether the disciples wanted to leave him like so many others did, by saying;

“Simon Peter answered him, 

‘Lord, to whom shall we go? 

You have the words of eternal life. 

We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’”

-John 6:68,69

What other legitimate options do we really have when faced with the temptation to cave, or fall rather than stand firm?

There are really none.

God proved this to Moses when Pharaoh commanded Moses to STAY in Egypt when God said LEAVE Egypt.

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.”

-Exodus 14:13

Jesus told his Disciples;

“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

-Matthew 10:22

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

-1 Corinthians 16:13

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…”

-Ephesians 6:14

[God’s truth and righteousness will strengthen and protect you.]

“It is for freedom that 

Christ has set us free. 

Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

-Galatians 5:1

[God gives us the strength and freedom to stand firm.]

A word about obeying Government or God

It is not, 

“Either or”

it is, 

“Both and”

We obey both, unless the two come into conflict. Then we obey God rather than. Humans.

Obey the Government.  (Romans 13:1)   

Obey God, (Acts 5:29) rather than people when the two come into conflict with one another. 

Obey Government

-Romans 13

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. [There are consequences for breaking the law]

Do you want to be free from FEAR of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be AFRAID, for rulers do not bear the sword [Punishment, consequences, Restitution, etc.]

for no reason. [There are consequences for breaking the law]

They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

Obey God

Peter and the other apostles replied:

“We must obey God

rather than human beings!”     

-Acts 5:29

[We must submit or obey the law UNLESS the law is in conflict with God’s law. Then we are not obligated to obey it even if we go to jail for disobeying.] There is a term that has  been misused for years. Here is the actual definition and biblical perspective on what is known as Civil Disobedience. 

“Civil Disobedience” = Breaking a government law when it conflicts with God’s higher law. But note that you can’t do anything that you want. This applies when the government law demands that you break one of God’s law. Did you catch that? When the government makes a law requiring you to sin, then you are allowed to disobey that law. But note that there are actually not that many situations that apply. 

There are not that many cases where the law demands that we must break God’s law or the law of our conscience.

Can you think of one? Think for a moment, you may not like some laws, but most of them are not demanding that you break one of God’s laws. Have you thought of one yet? 

Where there is, there is often a court case to defend the person exercising civil disobedience. One recent example that comes close to being civil disobedience but actually is not, is was when a bakery refused to make a cake that they deemed inappropriate to their morals. The only reason that it made the news is because someone sued the bakery for not making the cake. Rather than  going to another bakery who would have made the cake, they chose to make a point that they felt discriminated against.  Why this is actually not a case of civil disobedience is because of the fact that the law does not require bakeries to make any kind of cake requested. 

In the Old Testament we have the example of Daniel who broke the law of the King that it was illegal to pray to any God for 30 days. Daniel disobeyed even though he knew he would be sent to the Lion’s Den. He would obey God rather than human law that was in conflict with God’s law. 

If you are ever “commanded to sin” then remember some of Luther’s quote strung together: 

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason…  my conscience is captive to the Word of God… I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe… To go against the conscience is neither safe nor right… HereI stand, I can do no other, 

so help me God. Amen.”  

Example of Civil Disobedience that the Government acknowledges.

When drafted to go to war, there are “Conscientious objectors” who view war as opposed to God’s word. Interestingly, the government EXEMPTS these people from the draft and they are not punished.

We pray in the Lord’s Prayer;

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil [the Evil One, Satan].”

Part of that prayer is praying for strength when conflict arises between God’s will and the world’s will in our life.

But in all things, Stand firm.

Pray for God’s strength and wisdom in these matters.

Read and study what God’s will actually is so that you can know when there is a conflict.

I find in ministry that the more people learn about God and his will, the more they see conflict with his will in the world.

Remember that the 1st part of Standing Firm in life is knowing WHERE to stand.

THAT PLACE to stand is always 

on God’s Word.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you Lord for standing firm on our behalf.

Help us to be strong, do right and trust in you in all things.

In Jesus’ name.

Amen!


Pastor Dave

Word of Life Church

17525 W. Bell Rd.

Surprise, AZ 85374

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17525 W Bell Road

Surprise, AZ 85374

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