Thursday, November 9, 2017

What Does the Bible Say About Social Justice?

From a sermon by Dr. Voddie Baucham: "If the social justice movement went by its actual name, young Christians would not have been lured into it. Because the social justice movement is actually Cultural Marxism. There's no such thing as 'social justice,' people. In fact, in the Bible, justice never has an adjective. There's justice and there's injustice, but there's not different kinds of justice."

The term "social justice" is an argument for the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges in a society. Sometimes that argument turns loud and violent, though many have good intentions when they speak of "social justice," a desire for the common good. But who gets to decide what the common good is, and who carries it out?

God is the one who defines what is just and what is unjust. "His work is perfect for all His ways are justice" (Deuteronomy 32:4). Our works are not good. Why is there in injustice in the world? Because it's full of unjust people (Romans 3:12). So what has a just God told us to do? He said preach the gospel to all nations, baptize, and teach them (Matthew 28:19-20).

That is the mission of His church. Those who have been changed by His Spirit will do good works -- the works God defines as good (Ephesians 2:10, Titus 2:14, Hebrews 10:24) -- but works are not the gospel. You cannot change the world. Only God changes hearts, which He does through the gospel.

"All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24). That is the message of justice we should announce, so that all who hear it might be forgiven their sins and will not fall under the righteous judgment of God. He is both "just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26) when we understand the text.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Repent or Perish?

Another mass murder in the news. Another disaster claiming many lives. The number of people killed grows every day. What would Jesus have said about such tragedies?

Actually, He did address this in Luke 13:1-5. Some Galileans were murdered while they were sacrificing in the temple and their blood was mixed in with their sacrifices. Were they guilty of some terrible sin because this happened to them while they were worshiping?

Jesus said, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them. Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others in Jerusalem? No, I tell you. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

We live in a fallen world where people die: sometimes at the hands of lunatic psychopaths, sometimes in tragic accidents. Why do these casualties keep happening? Because of our sin. Not because one person's sins are worse than another's, but because everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23).

"The wages of sin is death," the Scripture says (Romans 6:23). And "all things have been subjected to futility" because of man's rebellion against God (Romans 8:20). As long as we live on this earth, people will keep dying in unexpected, unforseen ways. We will never solve that problem.

So what is there to do? Well, Jesus said, repent. Apologize to Him for your sin, and He will forgive you. And on the day that you die, expected or unexpected, you will not perish in judgment. You will live with God forever, in a place where every tear will be wiped away and evil and death shall be no more (Revelation 21:4), when we understand the text.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Is the Protestant Reformation Over?

In 1999, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation, in an effort to resolve 500 years of conflict since the protestant reformation, signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

The statement claimed that the two bodies "are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God's grace through faith in Christ." A Methodist council later adopted the declaration in '06, and a communion of reformed churches adopted it in 2017.

Many have pointed to this and other ecumenical partnerships and said, "See? The protestant reformation is over!" But is it really? Do those churches now submit to the primacy of the Pope? No, we're still supposed to be protesting!

The Catholic church has not changed its position on justification. They have said that if a person believes in justification by faith alone, they are cursed to hell. If a person rejects the Pope's teaching, they're cursed. If they've not been baptized or attend a Catholic church, they're cursed.
"If any one shall say, that by faith alone the impious is justified... let him be anathema." Council of Trent (Session 6, Chapter 16, Canon 9)
"Should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of [the Pope's infallibility], let him be anathema." First Vatican Council (Session 4, Chapter 4)
"Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation." Catholic Catechism 846

"Baptism is necessary for salvation." Catholic Catechism 1257
The Catholic church says a person is saved by faith and works. But the Bible says that a person is saved by grace through faith and not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Roman Catholicism is a different gospel. The Bible says if anyone teaches a different gospel they are cursed (Galatians 1:8-9). We are not fellow workers on the mission field. They are the mission field!

Now, being protestant doesn't just mean we protest the Pope. We protest any teaching contrary to the wisdom of God in the Bible. "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), when we understand the text.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What is Reformation Day? (The Protestant Reformation)

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany, his ninety-five theses, a list of arguments calling out the corrupt practices of the Roman Catholic church. This marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, an effort to reform the church and recover the gospel.

But why did Luther choose that day to present his theses? Well November 1 was All Saints Day, and the church in Wittenburg was about to present an exhibit of newly acquired relics. Worshipers would come from great distances to genuflect upon these relics, hoping to take thousands of years off their purgatory sentence.

The Catholic church was selling the forgiveness of sins, and teaching people they could be saved by their works. This was not the gospel. Salvation is not through sacraments or the Pope. It isn't earned by deeds or money. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone.

One of Luther's theses was, "The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God." That is the meaning of Reformation Day, when the light of the gospel broke forth out of darkness.

Hence this motto of the reformation, post tenebras lux: "Out of darkness, light." The Bible says, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Reformers like Luther, Calvin, Knox, Tyndale, and others helped to lead the church back to the glorious doctrines of justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ to the glory of God, when we understand the text.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Papal Infallibility? (Ex Cathedra)

Papal infallibility is the belief that the Pope is incapable of error when speaking from his position of supreme apostolic authority in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. This doesn't mean the Pope is sinless (although plenty of Catholics do believe that). Rather, it means that his teaching is perfect whenever he speaks ex cathedra, or from the chair of St. Peter.

The doctrine was defined by the First Vatican Council, presided over by Pope Pius IX. Pius decreed the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the belief that Mary was without sin, even though Jesus said no one is good but God alone (Mark 10:18).

Now, Catholic apologists maintain that the Pope has spoken ex cathedra only one other time, when Pope Pius the XII decreed the assumption of Mary, that she was bodily taken up into heaven. But these are not the only occasions papal infallibility has been exercised.

The Second Vatican declared that even when the Pope is not speaking from the chair, "his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence," and his judgments "are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will."

The Roman Catholic Church believes the Pope's word is as good as God's word. It was such teaching that spurred protestant reformer William Tyndale to declare, "I defy the pope and all his laws!" Tyndale translated the Bible into English, so that all could read God's word. The Roman Catholic Church had him burned at the stake.

Tyndale understood what the Pope doesn't, that our only infallible authority is the Bible. All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Psalm 18:30 says God's way is perfect, and the word of the Lord is without error, when we understand the text.