google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html 2017 October

Archive for October 2017

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Thanking God for the Reformation

Part 2 - Reformation Is Born

 

The Church before the Reformation G’day and welcome to our series, Thanking God for the Reformation, where we are looking at and celebrating that momentous event in history, and including in that, Church history. These are extracts from the book “Heroes And Heretics Abound” available on Amazon sites.


Change is gathering apace and we now see a great split. A split from within the Roman Catholic Church – the beginnings of the Protestant Church. Our main person we will look at is Martin Luther – one of the very giants of Church history.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Luther was the Professor of Biblical Studies at Wittenberg University in Germany. Luther tried to find God as an Augustinian monk but he was unable to come to terms with God's righteous demands. He eventually realised through prayer and reading the Scriptures, that he could do nothing of his own to fulfil or satisfy God’s righteous demands upon him. He came to see that justification before Almighty God was by faith alone, through grace alone, which was a gift of God.

Included in the aftermath of this discovery, were these key dates and events as the Reformation of Christianity and the Church gathered pace.

1517: Luther’s 95 Theses, statements against indulgences were nailed to the Castle Church door at Wittenberg on 31st October He rapidly gained a following in Germany, and was aided by the advent of the printing press.
1519: Luther publicly denied the supremacy and infallibility of the Pope and Church.
1520: Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X
1521: Diet Of Worms. Luther was outlawed by Emperor Charles V of Spain. He was hidden by friends for 8 months, during which he translated the New Testament into German.
1528: Diet Of Spruger. A change in German law allowed each German State to follow the religion of its reigning prince. Once announced, change of religion was forbidden.
1529: Diet Of Speyer. Decides the Lutheran states were to remain Lutheran and the Catholic states to remain Catholic; not allowed to change. Evangelical princes protested at the restriction and the name Protestant was given to this movement.
1530: Diet Of Augsburg. Protestants submitted a statement of belief which was rejected, but became the basis of Lutheran doctrine.
1547: war broke out between Catholic and Protestant states. This war was won by the Catholics, but Protestantism was finally recognised legally in 1552.

Core Truths

There were 3 main truths resulting from this Reformation which we hold fast today in general in large parts of the Church, particularly Protestantism:

  • Final authority of God's Word
  • Justification by faith, a gift of God's grace
  • The priesthood of all believers.


Lutheranism spread from Germany to Denmark, Norway and Sweden. However, having said that, it should be noted that, wrongly or rightly, Luther still accepted as truth the following theological standpoints:

  • Consubstantiation - a 'real presence' of Christ's body with bread and wine though not that the bread actually became His body. As opposed to transubstantiation held by the Roman Catholic Church which says the bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus.
  • Infant baptism as necessary for salvation.


We may get the idea that this man was dour and humourless. However, he maintained a sense of humour and obviously like laughing. An indication of that, is in this quote attributed to him:

“If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there.”

Tomorrow in part 3, we will look at Luther's 95 Theses...

 

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Thanking God for the Reformation

Part 1

 

The Church before the Reformation G’day and welcome to our series, Thanking God for the Reformation, where we are looking at and celebrating that momentous event in history, and including in that, Church history. These are extracts from the book “Heroes And Heretics Abound” available on Amazon sites.

Download the mp3 using the link below to listen to the full

We start, however, in the 14th and 15th centuries where there was a great European revival of interest in the values of classical Greek and Roman literature, art, philosophy and politics. It started in Italy and spread throughout Europe. Scholars were called humanists as they moulded their life on the teachings of the great Greek and Roman classical literature. Scholastic freedom grew exponentially. There was also an increase in other areas of life: Roman morality, paganism, the Greek New Testament and the study thereof. Many new universities throughout Europe were started.

We look together at three men, albeit briefly, at what they had to do with the Church at that time:

  • Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498)
  • John Colet (1466-1519)
  • Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (1467-1536)

Erasmus is described as the one who laid the egg which was hatched my Martin Luther...

We then conclude today with a look at the Devotional Movement and the prime architect, Thomas à Kempis...

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Exploring The Bible

38. Old Testament

Joel - 835 BC

 

G'day and welcome to our series, "Exploring the Bible" This is also the title of our latest book available on Amazon by clicking here or visiting PulpTheology.com

Key Verses:

  • Joel 2:11
  • Joel 2:28-29

 

Joel preached to Judah 835 BC during the reign of Joash. He proclaims the message of God: that God will destroy all his enemies, but will save those who love Him.

He even sees the day when the Holy Spirit of God will become available to all people – a vision which is fulfilled at Pentecost.

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Gems in the Letter of 3 John

Part 120 - 3 John
More steps in the truth.


3 John is the shortest writing in the New Testament, which doesn’t help when trying to pick out a ‘gem’. In fact in many ways there aren’t any so I will just list verse 1 as a gem because there are some important lessons to be learnt from the situation which clearly lies behind the letter, so it would be a pity to miss it out. 4 characters appear in the story behind the writing: the elder who wrote it, Gaius who received it, a good guy, Demetrius and a bad guy, Diotrephes.

It is impossible to be sure what the argument that the elder refers to was about but there is a good chance it was the old problem which is still around: should we keep the church tightly restricted to those whose loyalty to the faith we feel we can totally rely on; and those who think the church needs to be rather freer in its approach, even including those of whom it is not possible to be totally sure of their stickability in the faith. That is as much, or more, a twenty-first century problem as a first century one.

Dotrephes was entirely for the pure church. He may not have had Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians beside him but he would thoroughly have approved of Paul’s advice to the church in 5:4-8: “when you are assembled … hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,[ so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. … Get rid of the old yeast … keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Demetrius on the other hand would have been anxious to obey the words of Jesus in Matthew 13:24-30: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”


There is no clear way of resolving that dilemma. Each situation must be resolved ‘face to face’ as the elder clearly wants to do when he meets Gaius who would seem to have had some authority over the whole situation, though that authority may have been informal since there is no indication of any formal authority structure of bishops or deacons existing.

That is the first thing to be learnt from this short letter. The second is this: human nature being what it is it is all too likely that, particularly in an informal structure, those who gain power can all too easily become too conscious of it, too fond of it and too overbearing in their attempts to direct other people. And there are always people willing to be led for want of the strength of mind to understand what is happening and take appropriate action. They will often do that from a misguided feeling that it is Christian to accept the direction (or misdirection) of others.

It is a pity that we have to end these ‘gems’ on such a pair of negative notes, but that is the way it is. Note that besides these warning notes in this short letter there is much that the elder is prepared to rejoice in. He says many nice and gracious things to Gaius.

Take care. If you have been with me all, or most of the way, through this exploration of some of the lovely and encouraging things John has said - thank you. May the Lord bless you on your further journey of faith. He will be with you and bless you through thick and thin - and there will probably be both experiences on your onward journey.

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

27th October 2017

 

We pray together and when Christians pray together, including across the internet and from different times, different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity!


My Heavenly Father,
I thank You,
through Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son,
that You kept me safe from all evil and danger last night.
Save me, I pray, today
as well, from every evil and sin,
so that all I do and the way that I live will please you.
I put myself in your care, body and soul and all that I have.
Let Your holy Angels be with me,
so that the evil enemy will not gain power over me.
Amen

 

(A Morning Prayer of Martin Luther)

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Exploring Islam 04

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Exploring Islam

4. Allah versus God - Essentially Unknowable

Welcome to ‘Exploring Islam’. We are now starting to look at some of the beliefs of Islam and see how they are similar or different to those of Christianity. For this session we shall examine the concept of Allah, which is simply the Arabic word for God and existed before Islam. These words are the same linguistically, but what about the characteristics behind them between the Islamic Allah and the Christian God?

Essentially unknowable.

This may seem a rather negative launch point but it is an important concept to realise within Islam. The Qur’an does not reveal Allah rather it shows how people should live in accordance to his will. He is essentially transcendent to all, he is above and beyond everything we do know or could possibly understand.
Qur’an 16:74 – ‘So do not assert similarities to Allah. Indeed, Allah knows and you do not know.’

Humanity’s position in regard to its creator is that of a slave with a master. There is no possibility for a personal relationship like that found in Christianity where the analogy is a divine Father with His children. However, this is not to say that Allah is disinterested in his creation, humanity, or his Muslim followers, far from it.

In fact the Qur’an describes Allah as being exceptionally close:  
Qur’an 50:16 – ‘And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.’

This description of Allah is understood to be more of an awareness of everything that is happening in creation. Allah is all knowing and all powerful, just as Christianity’s God is. The most significant difference between them is that in orthodox Islam Allah makes no attempt to personally reveal himself or to reach out to humanity in the same way as God does.

In Christianity, God loves his creation to such a degree that he becomes a man in the person of Jesus Christ in order to fully reveal to us his nature (Colossians 2:9), how we are to live, and ultimately provide the route for our forgiveness - Hebrews 1:3 – ‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.’

However, just a cursory glance through the Qur’an and you will notice there are many adjectives used to describe Allah and so Muslims are given some concepts which to form their beliefs and service, the 99 names of Allah.

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