Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Bethany Bullet - October 6, 2015

Reformation Generosity – Proclaiming the Generous God…
Pursuing the Generous Life: Unparalleled Glory

On that fateful day in October of 1517 as Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg there were a lot of “ands” in the church. 

Salvation through the positive disposition of God toward humanity was believed to be predicated upon a mutual contract, a two way agreement. 

·        It was the grace of God AND the work of humanity.
·        It was faith AND the cognitive ability to understand.
·        It was scripture AND the words of the church.

But AND can be a dangerous thing to describe the action and disposition of the God of the universe. 

Luther and the other Reformers began to use the Latin word SOLA to describe what Scripture proclaims as the true relationship between a holy God and sinful humanity.  

Sola means alone, or only.  To be alone means that there is nothing else around or that no one else is with you.  It means that there is only one option and that there are no other possible choices or solutions. 

By definition, these words are exclusive, solitary, singular.  But the reformers were more concerned with proclaiming the truths of scriptures than to explain how our sinful minds can try to apprehend the holiness of God. 

Anyone familiar with the Reformation will also be familiar with the great SOLAs that they spoke of:  Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone!

Our standing with God, our eternal salvation, the revelation of God to us is not about ANDs but about ONLYs.  It’s not a two way street, but one way love.

But in these words there is an apparent contradiction.  How can you have three ONLYs…three things that are alone, able to stand without the other, all proclaiming the truth of salvation?

Now you may have heard other SOLAs in the Church.  A fourth ‘only’ could be “To God Alone Be the Glory”.  A fifth could be “In Christ Alone.”

If you start drilling down to really try to understand the idea of the SOLAs you might end up with only one. 

·        For the reformers to speak Grace Alone was to speak about Jesus
·        To speak Faith Alone was to speak about Christ
·        To speak Scripture Alone was to talk Savior (and)
·        To find glory was to locate the cross

Over the next few weeks we will take a look at the great SOLAs of the reformation and today we look to the cross to see the glory of God. 

When one starts to give All Glory to God the focus needs to be on the cross and its centrality to our reality.

During the Reformation there was a big debate on the distinction between a “theology of glory” and the “theology of the cross.”

Many in Luther’s day, and many in our day approach the idea of the Christian life to one that minimizes the painful and difficult.  That says that following the pattern of Jesus we can have our best life now. That unparalleled Glory can be completely realized this side of heaven.  

This idea seeks to minimize the trappings of this world and sidesteps the reality of how messed up this world really is. 

While a theology of glory may acknowledge the cross it views the event on Calvary as just a step on the way to our own personal improvement.

Luther put it this way, the theologian of glory “does not know God hidden in suffering.  Therefore, he prefers works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil.”

A theology of Glory is filled with a lot of ANDs.

Our text from Sunday shows us what Glory is all about and how and why all Glory belongs to God ALONE!

From 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 6, “For God, who said ‘Let light sine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Scripture clearly proclaims that the theology of Glory is only known ONLY in the face of Christ.
In this messed up world where things don’t go your way, during the times that are the hardest, we can still see glory. 

There are no ANDs in this contract.  Christ has done it all! Glory comes not in the ANDs of life, but in the face of Christ…Alone!  This is a treasure we have been given by Grace alone, through Faith Alone recorded in Scripture Alone. 

I’m not sure what your affliction is.  It could be that sin that you find yourself in over and over again.  It could be the effect of this fallen world that has ravaged your body in disease.  It could be the pain you are feeling because the sting of death is real on this side of heaven.  It could be the guilt you just can’t let go. 

But in all of those times Scripture tells us that we are “afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

This knowledge of God’s Glory in Jesus leads us to Thanksgiving TO the glory of God.

The only ones who can truly thank God are those who see the face of Christ as savior and Lord.

But it doesn’t stop there.  We know the Glory OF God in Jesus and give Glory TO God through Jesus, and one day we will receive AN eternal Glory with Christ in heaven. 
Paul continues, “So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

When you are hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, when the ANDs of life get you down, you may be tempted to think that God has abandoned you, left you in despair or destroyed you. 

But to say, To God Alone be the Glory is a clear confession that the temporary is not your primary concern and that Christ Alone will bring you home to eternity which is a glory that is unparalleled.   That is the action of a Generous God!

Pastor Seth Moorman


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