Reformation Day - Nerds497 years ago today, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, kick-starting the Protestant Reformation. Nearly 500 years later, God’s people reserve this day to celebrate the rescue of His Word from the shackles of Roman Catholic tyranny, corruption, and heresy. The glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the sufficient Scriptures had been recovered, and it’s been doing its saving work ever since.

Romans 1:16–17 stands at the heart of the Reformation, especially because of how central it was in Luther’s conversion. Luther speaks of how he had hated the phrase, “the righteousness of God,” because he understood it to be speaking only of God’s standard of righteousness by which He would judge unrighteous sinners. But eventually, he says, “I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith. Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.”

Today, as we reflect upon and remember the grace of God that fell upon the world in the Protestant Reformation, I want to reflect upon the Gospel that made it happen—and particularly the concept of righteousness which was so central to the regeneration of the great reformer. And to do that I want to focus on another text that Paul penned, which gives us wonderful insight into the saving righteousness of God. In Philippians 3:9, Paul explains what it means to be found in Christ—namely, “not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (NKJV).

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This week I attended the Expositor’s Summit at Southern Seminary. It’s a conference for pastors who love expository preaching, and the messages have been very powerful. John MacArthur preached on parables, HB Charles on the doxology at the end of Ephesians 3, and Al Mohler on Genesis 22 (in the next few days, the audio will be posted here).

There was also a panel discussion where each of the speakers was asked what the hardest passage of scripture is that they have ever preached. Here is what they said:

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Post Tenebras LuxWith Reformation Day coming up, this is a good time to recall why the Reformers departed from Roman Catholicism. In our day especially, it seems that many Christians have history-amnesia when it comes to the importance of what God did through the Reformers. During the Reformation, great confusion existed regarding what was, and was not, the true church of Christ. Rome had asserted itself as the true church for centuries, and continues to do so today. However, as the Reformers recognized then, Christians must follow in step today by recalling that joining hands with Rome is a departure from Christ.

To be clear, this is not to say that everyone who sits in a Roman Catholic church is not a Christian. What it is saying is that several changes must occur before Roman Catholicism, by the book, can be considered biblical Christianity. And the men and women of the Reformation understood this, hence their necessary break with Rome. In their case, and ours, joining Christ necessitates breaking with Rome and coming under Christ means coming out from under Rome.

Christians will know that it is time to join hands with Rome when it does the following:

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What caused the Reformation?

Many people might answer that question by pointing to Martin Luther and his 95 Theses.

But if you were to ask Luther himself, he would not point to himself or his own writings. Instead, he would give all the credit to God and His Word.

Near the end of his life, Luther declared: “All I have done is put forth, preach and write the Word of God, and apart from this I have done nothing. . . . It is the Word that has done great things. . . . I have done nothing; the Word has done and achieved everything.” Continue Reading…

On October 31st 1517 Anno Domini a comically tonsured German monk, with an attitude and a mallet posted the Medieval equivalent of a snarky  blog post on the castle door at Wittenberg. Martin Luther’s 95 Theses voiced irrefragable concerns about doctrine, ecclesiastical abuses, and unbiblical doctrines. The paper was merely intended to spark debate and reform within the Roman Catholic Church.

However, the spark blew a little further than the intramural playground of the Vatican. The white squall of God’s Spirit (with a little help from Guttenberg’s press and a Latin-German dictionary) ignited the hearts of the masses, as the Theses went viral.

Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Bucer, Farel, and countless others lived and died to leave a legacy of passion and proclamation. They showed that when you love Jesus and his word, you would rather die than keep quiet. If they inspire you, here are…

3 ways to make the Reformers proud today:

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Baucham PreachingBack in 2012, Voddie Baucham, Pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, wrote an excellent article in reply to the oft-repeated claim that homosexual “marriage” is an issue of civil rights, akin to the plight of African-Americans in the 1960s. Responding to a popular article written in 2008, Baucham titled his article, “Gay is Not the New Black.” If you haven’t read that article, or if you don’t quite know how to respond to the accusation that your failure to enthusiastically celebrate homosexuality is the same as being a racist, be sure to read it today.

This week, Grace Family Baptist Church hosted their Semper Reformanda conference, addressing the topic, “Civil Authority and Christian Responsibility: Religion & Politics.” Pastor Voddie delivered a pair of addresses on the subject of homosexuality and how Christians should be thinking about the issue. I found both of the talks enlightening, well-researched, and instructive. These seminars are very capable tools for equipping God’s people to be salt and light in our world, faithfully representing God’s Word on this issue to a culture that wants nothing to do with truth.

Pastor Voddie takes on all the common questions and sound-byte arguments that homosexual activists are fond of leveling against the biblical position, including some questions which we’ve answered here on The Cripplegate (e.g., Why do you even care?, You’re just picking and choosing which Bible commands to follow!, But love is love!, and Jesus didn’t even address homosexuality!). Baucham answers these and other arguments ably and faithfully, modeling for God’s people how we can respond to these questions as well. The videos are worth the two hours they’ll take to listen to. I trust you’ll be benefited by listening.

Gay is Not the New Black

Beyond the Rhetoric: Applying Biblical Truth to the Homosexual Debate

Judges 11 is one of the darkest chapters in the Bible. God’s judge, Jephthah, offers up his only child as a human sacrifice, under the incredibly sinful assumption that Yahweh is worshiped in the same way the pagan gods are. The story stands as evidence that without faith, God’s people are as depraved as the world, and that Israel is in desperate need of a savior better than a Judge.

(10-11) wrong becomes right

In the last few weeks I’ve read two articles (here and here) that have argued against that understanding of Judges 11, essentially saying, “no, no…you have it all wrong…God wouldn’t allow one of his Judges to do something that horrible… Jephthah didn’t sacrifice her, he asked her to live a life of chastity in service to Yahweh.”

I think this attempt to rescue Jephthah’s reputation comes up short though, and here is why:

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The doctrine of inerrancy–that the Bible is without any kind of error whatsoever–is closely tied to the practice of expository preaching—teaching line-by-line, verse-by verse. Their connection makes sense: if the Bible is perfect, than every word of it should be brought to bear on the Christian’s soul.

Thus one could argue that there is no real concept of expository preaching without a true understanding of inerrancy.

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Today’s post is excerpted from a must-read essay  by Charles Spurgeon for all involved in pastoral ministry. The entire essay, entitled ‘The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear’ can be read here. In this section, Spurgeon focuses on how pastors should respond to the opinions and remarks of their congregants toward their preaching. He writes:

SpurgeonTo opinions and remarks about yourself turn also as a general rule the blind eye and the deaf ear. Public men must expect public criticism, and as the public cannot be regarded as infallible, public men may expect to be criticized in a way which is neither fair nor pleasant. To all honest and just remarks we are bound to give due measure of heed, but to the bitter verdict of prejudice, the frivolous faultfinding of men of fashion, the stupid utterances of the ignorant, and the fierce denunciations of opponents, we may very safely turn a deaf ear.

We cannot expect those to approve of us whom we condemn by our testimony against their favourite sins; their commendation would show that we had missed our mark. We naturally look to be approved of by our own people, the members of our churches, and the adherents of our congregations, and when they make observations which show that they are not very great admirers, we may be tempted to discouragement if not to anger: herein lies a snare.

When I was about to leave my village charge for London, one of the old men prayed that I might be “delivered from the bleating of the sheep.” For the life of me I could not imagine what he meant, but the riddle is plain now, and I have learned to offer the prayer myself. Too much consideration of what is said by our people, whether it be in praise or in depreciation, is not good for us. If we dwell on high with “that great Shepherd of the sheep” we shall care little for all the confused bleatings around us, but if we become “carnal, and walk as men,” we shall have little rest if we listen to this, that, and the other which every poor sheep may bleat about us. Continue Reading…

cutActor William Shatner once did a parody performance of himself reacting to his obsessed fans at a Star Trek convention. He exploded with a sharp rebuke: “Get a life! It’s only a TV show!” To a Trekkie that’s like being told Santa isn’t real…by Santa. Shatner then apologized to his rattled fan base explaining he was merely in character as Captain Kirk from episode 27 where he becomes Evil Captain Kirk. So, no harm done as long as it was “in character.”

Not so fast.

A negligible slice of the world’s population is comprised of genuine believers who are professional actors. But I have a handful of dear friends who are believers in Jesus Christ, seek to honor him in their chosen profession, desire to be shining lights in a shadowy entertainment industry, and are thus sometimes confronted with conundrums the watching world isn’t.

We all face temptation to sin in our jobs, and it may happen that a boss instructs you to do something against your conscience. But in those situations at least you know what the sin is and you know how to please the Lord. But what if you were required by your boss to pretend to sin? Granted, that’s not a scenario we face every day; but it is one actors face whenever they are working (which also isn’t every day).

Imagine you are assigned the role of Lady Macbeth or Darth Vader or Judas. Someone has to play the villain. And no director would allow you to massage Shakespeare’s script; “Out, out darn spot” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. And, except for the role Jim Caviezel snagged in The Passion, even good guys sin—The Good the Bad and the Ugly demonstrates this as adequately as the Die Hard franchise.

Here are two very basic guidelines my actor friends employ when selecting scripts:

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