Much to celebrate!
Today is the anniversary of one of the most important days in the history of the church - and the history of Western Civilisation!
But there is NO mention of it on the BBC homepage and no mention of it on the 6.00pm news! And the best Google can do is to celebrate Halloween with a childish logo.
On the 31st October 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 talking points to the door of a church in Wittenberg. He was proper mad at the latest indulgence preached by the Catholic church - a moneymaking idea to rebuild St Peter's Basilica in Rome! John Tetzel and his crew had been pushing these indulgences like crazy to fill up the coffers of the Catholic church and Luther was cross about how these indulgences were perverting the Gospel. In simple terms, an indulgence was a way of getting some of your sins (or the sins of someone you loved) forgiven! Pay some money and get some sins forgiven! Ridiculous! Only Jesus forgives sins!
Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and many others had the colossal task of cleaning off centuries of grime from the pure Gospel! And under God, salvation by faith alone through Christ alone, by the grace of God alone was restored!
Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
But let us remember, the Gospel will ALWAYS be under attack...
The Pure Gospel
What is the Gospel? In five simple steps, the simple Gospel is:
(1) Everyone knows there is a God - from the witness of creation (Romans 1:20)
(2) Everyone has turned from this God to idols - exchanging the truth of God for a lie and worshipping created things (money, hobbies, sex, sports, culture...) rather than the Creator (Romans 1:22-25)
(3) As a result of this deliberate walking out on God, everyone stands under the righteous judgement of God (Romans 6:23)
(4) But God in his great love and mercy sent his beloved Son into the world to pay for our sin (1 Peter 3:18)
(5) God calls everyone to repent and to believe the Good News - (Acts 2:38, 17:30, John 3:16)
And the moment ANYONE responds to the Gospel in faith and obedience they receive the gift of God's righteousness, the blessing of his Holy Spirit and the Hope of eternal life!
This Gospel will always be under attack! In Luther's day the satanic attack was to obscure, to cover up the Gospel with heaps of man-made traditions! That isn't our problem today...
Satan's attack today -make us "ashamed of the Gospel" (Romans 1:16-17)
...our problem is that we could so easily be ashamed of the Gospel, or at least aspects of it. Here is how Satan would love us to dilute the Gospel today...
We could easily become ashamed of the simplicity of the Gospel
Men like Tom Wright have infiltrated the evangelical church with a complicated gospel so that we can gain intellectual respectability in a scientific age. At root, he says that you need a PhD in first century Judaism to understand Jesus. If you don't have one, well at least you need a guide with a PhD (now, I wonder, who that might be..........) Utter Nonsense! Anyone can understand the Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:18), including a child.
We could easily be ashamed of the uniqueness of the Gospel
In a postmodern pluralistic age, the idea that there is only ONE WAY to God is regarded as folly. But indeed there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12)
We could easily be ashamed of preaching the punishment announced by the Gospel
Rob Bell is embarrassed by the words of the New Testament when it talks about hell. Paul isn't, for he says that evildoers will "be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord." (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
We could be fearful of preaching the repentance demanded by the Gospel
I am thinking in particular of those sins which through PC have become virtues and which we may shy away from mentioning, but if not repented of will banish is from the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
We could become fearful of the suffering that may come through the preaching of the Gospel
Perhaps we will keep silent because we fear that in preaching the Gospel we might lose our jobs, honour, houses, wife, children, freedom.
This is Satan's attack upon the Gospel today - not to obscure it - but to make Christians fearful of preaching it!
And yet we should not be ashamed - we must not be ashamed - because this pure Gospel is the divine means, the divine power, for the salvation of all who believe (Romans 1:16-17).