Reformation Day Lesson 2011: Standing Firm in the Faith to the End

Things have been pretty busy for myself, my church, and my family lately, so I doubt I’ll put up the whole text from our Reformation Day festivities at church, but what follows is the outline for Reformation Day conference that encouraged us to stand firm in the faith. May we all stand firm in the power He provides. “Our hope is in no other save in Thee / Our faith is built upon Thy promise free / Oh grant to us such stronger help and sure / That we can boldly conquer and endure.”

Standing Firm in the Faith
I. Introduction
A. How Scripture Exhorts Us to Stand Firm
1. And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. (Exodus 14:13)
2. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
3. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. (Philippians 4:1)
4. But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits1 to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17)
5. I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. (1 Peter 5:12)

B. How the Reformation Exhorts Us to Stand Firm

II. The Uniqueness of the Protestant Reformation
A. The General Consensus on the Need for Reforming the Church
B. Previous Reformation Attempts
C. What Was Unique About the Protestant Reformation

  1. Creeds vs Deeds
  2. Reformation vs Revolution
  3. New Technology – the Gutenberg Press
  4. Continue reading

Luther and the Jewish Question

Since yesterday was Reformation Sunday, our talks among the congregants eventually drifted to the question of charges of antisemitism toward Martin Luther. As a Protestant, Reformational Christian, I deeply admire Luther for what he did and accomplished, but never venerate the man nor overlook his (many) flaws and faults. His writings against the Jews are one of his flaws that we justly decry and lament. Like Zwingli’s maiden or Calvin’s handling of Servetus, these are historical instances that need to be placed in their context, condemned for what was sinful, and examples to learn from.

The first thing to remember when thinking about this subject is how Luther’s contemporaries thought about the Jewish question. In the 1530’s and 1540’s, the whole question of how to relate to Jewish people and the Judaic belief system was a highly charged and volatile issue. Writers from both the Catholic and Protestant perspectives both defended and attached Jews for everything from heresy, usury, treason and anarchy, and the ritualistic murder of children. Further, in a point that is often overlooked, there is a difference in Christians writing “anti-semite” material vs writing “anti-Judaic” material. The first attacks an ethnic people group, the second attacks a religion and belief system at odds with the claims of Christianity. The first is decidedly anti-Christian, the second is decidedly necessary for Christian apologists (see: the entire book of Galatians). Continue reading