Dear Savior, today we come—not just to celebrate and remember those heroes of faith who have fought sin and unbelief—but also to partake of Your power so that we might be part of a new Reformation. Lord, everywhere we turn people either are ignorant of Your Bible, or they seem to challenge it, mock it, treat it like any other human book, or simply ignore its eternal truths. Lord, when You said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me”—You meant it. Today begin us on the path to restore such Godly truth to those sitting in darkness. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF ALL LIFE!
TEXT: John 10: 35: “The Scripture cannot be broken.”
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
It almost pushed the sniper news off the front page. It actually made the front page of the “Boston Globe” just this past week! The headline was: “Burial box may be tied to Jesus’ family”—‘James inscription seen as crucial find.’ By now most of you probably know the story. Recently a Jewish burial box made of limestone—a little bigger than then average bread box—has been authenticated by various scholars. It apparently dates back to about 60 AD, the time when James, the writer of the epistle was stoned to death. On it is carved: “James, brother of Jesus, son of Joseph.” The common burial custom of the day was to put the body in a low cave and seal the entrance. Then about a year later the family would come and gather the bones—that’s all that were left in that hot climate—and they would place them in a burial box to be stored with other ancestors. Many believe this was done with James’ body and that perhaps this box actually contained those bones.
Now this is big news in religious and archeological circles. One, it is the earliest secular reference to Christ outside of the Bible. Two, it attests to the Bible account of Joseph being Jesus’ father—if it’s the same Joseph. And three, it provides a dig against the Roman Catholic view that Jesus’ brothers—referred to in the New Testament–are not merely cousins or half-brothers from a previous marriage of Joseph as Rome teaches, but that Mary and Joseph had other kids, too. (This would turn the RC idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary upside down.)
One thing especially caught my attention toward the end of the article. The “Globe” writer interviewed Krister Stendahl, the former dean of the Harvard Divinity School and a NT theologian. He said this: “Since I have never had any serious doubts about the existence of Jesus, it doesn’t change any scholarly perception. It’s just sort of beautiful, even moving, if it is true. I want it to be true.” To the uninitiated that quote from the liberal Lutheran Stendahl sounds pretty good. But, you need to know more. Many Christian theologians and churches today preach and teach one of two views about Christ. One, they teach: “Jesus the man may or may not have existed. We cannot know for sure. But it doesn’t matter because the disciples derived comfort from believing in this man called Jesus and like them, we can, too.” This view would scoff at any claims of divinity for Christ. The second view is that “Yes, Jesus the man really did live and die in Palestine. But he was just a man like us, not God. Also, his teachings were invented by the early church to promote their religion. So, if you wish to follow one of the world’s great teachers, great! But don’t view him as the Son of God.” Stendahl comes from the earlier camp. He sounds good in the article, but in essence his views are garbage because they deny Christ’s divinity and the exclusivity of the Christian faith.
So, what does all this have to do with us on Reformation Sunday? Folks, we face a plethora of problems and weird ideas about how we’re saved that would make Dr. Luther blanch. Liberal theology has taken over the organized church in America. Pastors routinely deny everything from the reality of the miracles, to Jesus’ virgin birth and resurrection, to the moral certitude of the commandments. I’ve seen polling data from the various mainline churches which says that most Sunday worshippers in America believe that as long as people try to be good and not hurt others and think “spiritual thoughts” they’ll get to heaven. It doesn’t matter to these people whether you follow Jesus’ teachings, or Buddha’s, or Mohatma Gandhi’s.—To them they’re all the same. We’re considered dinosaurs because we take the Bible seriously. Some liberals mock us as so far out of touch with the religious scene that they’re waiting to put a headstone on our church and synod in the next few years! All this suggests to me, it screams to me that we need
A NEW REFORMATION WHICH BEGINS WITH YOU!
In our text Jesus says: “The Scripture cannot be broken.” What does that mean? It means that the Bible is totally God’s Word. It doesn’t teach or contain error. Instead, it shows us the only way of getting to heaven. Remember the passage: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”? It doesn’t say: “Believe whatever you want and discard anything that’s politically incorrect.” Does it? By reading Christ’s divine nature out of passages, many are trying to break Scripture. But unless God’s Son died to save me from my sins. Unless my sins are real and Christ’s salvation and blood are real. Unless He actually came back to life after death to give me the certainty of eternal life. Unless all that is true—aren’t the Bible libs just making up their own faith as they go and believing in themselves instead of in Christ?
We must not merely listen to people’s rhetoric, but also zero in on their presuppositions. The basic presupposition of all Christian libs is that there is no supernatural Being that intrudes into time and space, or if there is, we are incapable of comprehending His (“Its” or “Her”—PC you know) presence. So for these people Christianity isn’t about Christ and God and how He saved us, instead it’s about them. To them religion is about us going to god, instead of God coming to us. You see this in the “I think, I feel, I hope” language of the liberal crowd. They never say: “The Lord says.” Nothing is ever definite with them. Everything is grey with no real black or white because they don’t want to be judgemental. That’s why they seldom talk much about sin, other than branding us as judgemental, and never talk about hell or God’s justice because those are moral absolutes that mean they would have to take a definite stand.
My friends, “Scripture cannot be broken.” Either its true or it isn’t. Either it shows us how God has saved us, or it’s a lie. And don’t fall for that liberal trap of: “It’s all a matter of interpretation.” It’s not! If I say: “The sun is shining outside the window today” that’s exactly what I mean. I don’t mean by those words “Well, it might be shining somewhere in the world, but because the room I’m in has no windows, I can’t really know.” Or, “I’m blind, so it isn’t shining for me.”
We take God’s Word at face value. It means what it says. All of it is true. We know that not because they might or might not have found some old box for bones in Israel but because God did the seemingly impossible. He sent His Son to become a man, to share our flesh. He sent His eternal Son to suffer for our sins and to win us freedom from guilt, doubt, and fear by dying in our place and rising from our graves. Moreover, God also works confidence, trust, and faith in these mind-boggling truths by sending the Spirit to us via the Words of the Bible. Because of the original Reformation you and I can live in appreciation of blessings and in the comfort of not fearing what happens when we die. We know what happens. Heaven happens. For “Jesus says: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life—no one comes to the Father except through Me.” We need to restore those soul-saving truths to those sitting in the darkness of the psychobabble of liberal Christianity in America today. Be humble. Be confident. Speak up! God’s truth has set you free—and it will set other lost souls free, too. Yes, a new reformation is needed. And God has chosen you to be on the front lines. For like any reformation, this one begins with you! Amen