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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Wednesday
Nov082017

"A Strong Covenant" (The Seventieth Week of Daniel) -- Daniel 9:24-27

The Eighteenth in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Daniel

As famed philosopher-catcher Yogi Berra once quipped, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it!”  When we come to Daniel 9:27 and read of one who makes a strong covenant with the many for one week, we have come to such an interpretive fork in the road.  Is Daniel speaking about a future Antichrist making a seven-year peace treaty with Israel which marks the beginning of the tribulation?  Or is Daniel instead speaking of the coming of the Messiah, who makes a strong covenant on behalf of those whom he is about to redeem at the climax of his messianic mission?  The choice is fundamental as to how we understand this prophecy.  Christ or the Antichrist?

We have spent the last several sermons working our way though Daniel 9, a passage which includes the famous prophecy of the “seventy weeks” (vv. 24-27).  As we noted throughout our time in this chapter, this is one of the most disputed and difficult prophecies in all the Old Testament.  But everyone does agree that it is also one of the most important of Old Testament prophecies.  Although those influenced by dispensationalism see this prophecy as predicting a future seven-year tribulation period and a peace treaty between Antichrist and Israel, the prophecy makes much better sense when seen as a messianic prophecy, predicting the coming of Jesus (Israel’s Messiah) with great accuracy and specificity–the so-called “messianic interpretation.”

Based upon our time spent in this chapter previously, it should be clear that understanding the context and keeping the Old Testament background in mind are absolutely essential, if we are to interpret the “seventy weeks” correctly.  We begin by reminding ourselves that the seventy weeks prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 is a direct answer from YHWH to the prophet Daniel’s petitions offered in his prayer for the exiles in Babylon (the first 19 verses of chapter 9).  Daniel is well aware that the prophet Jeremiah foretold of seventy years of exile for the Jews now living in Babylon–Daniel among them.  Daniel is also aware that the seventy years are about up.  He knows that Jeremiah prophesied that YHWH promised that his people will be allowed to return to Judah to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple.  Knowing the day of release from exile is at hand, Daniel is greatly worried about his people.  Will they remember YHWH’s covenant promises?  Will they repent of their sin and unbelief?  

In his prayer, Daniel is deeply moved to repent of his own sins, as well as pray on behalf of his struggling people–Judah.  It is as a direct answer to Daniel’s fervent prayer for Israel on the eve of their possible return to Judah, that YHWH sends Gabriel to reveal to Daniel what the future holds for Judah, Jerusalem, and the temple–the purpose for the “seventy weeks” prophecy of verses 24-27.  The good news Gabriel reveals to Daniel is that the exiles will return to Judah, and they will rebuild the city, and the temple.  The bad news is that at some point in the future, Jerusalem will be left desolate once again.  But this is not a prophecy of despair.  Rather, it is a prophecy which foretells of the coming of Israel’s Messiah who will usher in the ultimate jubilee year, as well as the eternal Sabbath for the people of God.  The exiles will return home and rebuild.  But Jerusalem and the temple will experience desolation yet again, because a greater exile remains–separation from God’s presence due to human sin.  Desolation is not the final word, however, YHWH will send someone (a Messiah) to deal with the root of our exile from YHWH–the guilt of our sin.  This will be accomplished as the seventy weeks run their course.

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Monday
Nov062017

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (November 6-12)

Sunday Morning, November 12:  We wrap up our study of the Book of Amos (as part of our series on the Minor prophets).  We will look at God's promise to restore Israel from Amos 9.  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  We have come to Lord's Day 44 (Q & A 113-115) in our study of the Heidelberg Catechism.  We will address the tenth commandment and coveting. Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study (November 8 @ 7:30 p.m.):  We are continuing our series, "Apologetics in a Post-Christian Age."  This week's lecture is "Sheilaism," and self-justifying religion.

The Academy (Friday November 3 @ 7:30 p.m.):   We resume our lecture/discussion series based upon Allen Guelzo's Teaching Company Course, The American Mind.  Our topic this week is Abraham Lincoln's influence on American intellectual history.

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Church), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

Sunday
Nov052017

"The Day of the Lord" -- Amos 5:18-6:14 

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon, the fourth in a series on the Minor Prophets from the Book of Amos:  Click Here

Sunday
Nov052017

This Week's White Horse Inn

This Week's White Horse Inn

Many Christians today assume that worship is something we do one hour per week, but in Scripture, worship is actually a life-long activity. For example, in Romans 12 Paul says that out of gratitude for God’s mercy and grace, Christians are to worship God acceptably by offering our bodies as living sacrifices. This is not to say that Sunday worship is unimportant. Though we’re to think of all of life as worship, we have an additional call to join with other saints on the Lord’s Day, to sing his praises corporately, and also to receive his good gifts. On this program, the hosts will begin a new series on the meaning, form, and significance of worship.

Click Here

Friday
Nov032017

Apologetics in a Post Christian Age (Audio) -- Basic Cateogies (Part Two)

Here's the audio from our Wednesday Night Bible Study -- "Basic Categories -- Humanism and Pluralism"

Click Here

Wednesday
Nov012017

"Seventy Weeks" -- Daniel 9:20-27

The Seventeenth in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Daniel

Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks is one of the most intriguing passages in all the Bible.  It is often described by commentators as among the most difficult passages to interpret in all the Old Testament.  Many of our contemporaries understand this passage as a map to the end times.  But I think the passage makes much more sense when understood as a messianic prophecy foretelling the coming of Jesus, the Messiah.  Yes, the passage does tell us much about the end times (in a big picture kind of way), but it does so through the lens of Jesus’ work in fulfilling the six conditions set forth in the prophecy–finishing transgression, putting an end to sin, atoning for iniquity, ushering in everlasting righteousness, sealing both vision and prophet, and anointing a most holy place.  As we will see in the weeks to come, these things were, in fact, accomplished by Jesus through the strong covenant which Jesus makes with the many (i.e., the people of God whom the Father chooses to save).  If Gabriel’s revelation to Daniel does speak to the end times, it does so in the form of a messianic prophecy, foretelling with an uncanny accuracy the suffering and obedience of the one who fulfills it–the Lord Jesus.

Many of us grew up in churches influenced by dispensationalism.  We learned this passage well because it was thought to serve as a guide to the end times.  The prophet Daniel supposedly foresees a time (the 70th and final week of the seventy weeks) when Israel is back in the land at or about the time the Gentile church is removed from the earth (the Rapture).  The Rapture also marks the dawn of the so-called seven year tribulation period, during which the Antichrist (on this scheme, the one who makes a covenant with Israel) turns upon the Jews in their rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, leading to a final battle (Armageddon) which culminates in the return of Jesus.  Although this is the view which dominates much of American evangelicalism, this interpretation is wide of the mark for several reasons we will address in this sermon.

Despite the difficulty and intrigue associated with Daniel’s “seventy weeks,” the passage can be properly interpreted if we spend the time to understand the context in which it is given, as well as developing the biblical theology which underlies the prophecy itself.  The first matter we must tackle is the meaning and chronology of the “seventy weeks” to which Daniel refers.  What are these weeks?  When do the weeks begin, and when do they end?  Are we to take the seventy weeks as a literal period of time, or are the seventy weeks better understood symbolically in light of the previous visions recorded earlier in Daniel?  

I’m thinking here of the visions of four great empires found in Daniel 2 (Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a metallic statue interpreted by Daniel), and Daniel 7 (a vision given to Daniel of four great and mysterious beasts).  The four metals in Nebuchadnezzar’s statue and the four beasts in Daniel’s vision predict the rise of the four great empires of the ancient near-eastern world: the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires.  As will see shortly (as represented in the chart provided), these prior visions provide the context for the vision of the seventy weeks–a context often overlooked by those who see the prophecy as focusing on the time of the end, instead of upon the dawn of the messianic age.

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here

Monday
Oct302017

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (October 30-November 5)

Sunday Morning, November 5:  We return our study of the Book of Amos (as part of our series on the Minor prophets).  This Lord's Day we will address a prominent theme in the Minor Prophets, "The Day of the Lord" as found in Amos 5.  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  We take up Lord's Day 43 (Q & A 112) of the Heidelberg Catechism.  We will discuss the ninth commandment and the sin of bearing false witness against our neighbor.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study (November 1 @ 7:30 p.m.):  We are continuing our series, "Apologetics in a Post-Christian Age."  This week's lecture is on Classical and Contemporary Humanism

The Academy (Friday November 3 @ 7:30 p.m.):   We resume our lecture/discussion series based upon Allen Guelzo's Teaching Company Course, The American Mind.  Our topic this week is Abolition and the Civil War

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Church), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

Sunday
Oct292017

"Justified By Faith" -- Romans 3:21-31

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on Sola Fide from Romans 3:21-31

Click Here

Sunday
Oct292017

This Week's White Horse Inn

The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

This week marks the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses. But who was Luther and what were the problems in the church of his day that he was seeking to address? On this program, the hosts will read and discuss excerpts from the Ninety-Five Theses and will also interact with Luther’s account of his own conversion to a theology rooted in the work of Christ alone, received through faith alone, all by grace alone, to the glory of God alone.

Click Here

Saturday
Oct282017

The Five "Solas" of the Reformation

The Five Solas – An Introduction

Many churches which trace their ancestry back to the Protestant Reformation, celebrate Reformation Day.  Five hundred years ago, October 31, 1517, is the traditional date when Martin Luther, a young biblical scholar and troubled son of the Roman Church, nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in the city of Wittenberg.  Professor Luther wanted to challenge the Roman Church’s understanding of the sacrament of penance, and his posting written theses (objections) was the way in which professors of that day called for academic debate.

Luther was as surprised as anyone when his 95 Theses were published.  They gave voice those to countless German peasants who felt that the Roman church had grown increasing greedy, corrupt, and indifferent to their needs.  When the Dominican friar Johann Tetzel came through Germany selling indulgences–which supposedly shortened the time that a sinner spent in purgatory–many Germans were outraged.  How dare Rome send an emissary into Germany to sell indulgences at a time of economic hardship, especially when the proceeds from the sale of these Indulgences went to pay for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome–a grand cathedral which no German peasant would ever see?

While German peasants hated the Roman church because of the church’s arrogance and indifference to their needs, for Luther, the issues were strictly theological.  When Luther’s Theses were published and quickly disseminated across much of Germany, it soon became clear that this was not just a debate about a fine point of doctrine (penance), but a fundamental challenge to the nature of religious authority as understood by the Roman Catholic Church, as well as a direct challenge to Rome’s teaching on sacraments, good works, merit, faith and the nature of the gospel.  It was not long before Protestantism was a wide-spread movement across most of Europe and a burgeoning theological threat to the Roman church.  Although Protestantism soon separated into Lutheran and Reformed branches, the Protestant objections to Rome quickly crystalized around the so-called “five Solas” of the Reformation.  These five “onlys” include, Scripture alone, grace alone, Christ alone, faith alone, and glory to God alone.

No question, the Roman church believed Scripture was God’s word.  But Rome didn’t see Scripture as the only basis for religious authority–there was also church tradition.  The Roman church believed in grace, but defined grace as a substance, and argued that grace must be infused through the sacraments and then energized by the human will to be effective.  Rome militantly defended both the deity of Christ and his sacrificial death for sins.  But Rome taught that the merit of human good works must be added to the work of Christ in order for sinners to be made right with God.  Rome also taught that faith was an essential Christian virtue, but understood that faith must be formed into an active faith, which produced those Christian virtues which merited (earned) favor from God.  While in theory the Roman church gave all glory to God, in practice, Rome’s theology spread glory around to Mary, the papacy, the Saints, and even to human good works.

What has separated Protestant from Rome since 1517, is not Scripture, grace, faith, Christ, or glory to God.  What caused the great divide between Protestants and Catholics was the Protestant insistence upon that little adjective “sola” or “only.”  Scripture alone.  Grace alone.  Christ alone.  Faith alone.  Glory to God alone.  And so we now turn our attention to the five solas of the Reformation.

Sola Scriptura

The so-called formal principle of the Protestant Reformation, sola Scriptura is the affirmation that Scripture alone–not the church, not religious tradition, nor personal experience–is the sole authority for Christian faith and practice.

Sola Scriptura presupposes the fact that God is transcendent and remains completely hidden from our eyes, unless and until he reveals himself to us, which he does in two ways.  The first way is through the so-called book of nature (the natural order).  Because we are sinful and fallible, we inevitably distort the revelation God gives to all in nature.  We end-up turning natural revelation into false religion and idolatry.

Since God is gracious and intends to save his people from their sins, God stoops down (as it were) to reveal himself to us not only in nature, but also in history.  God does this through the great and mighty acts of redemption which we find recorded in Holy Scripture, along with his word of explanation about how we are to understand these events.  Scripture even helps us understand God’s revelation in nature correctly.  

Not only does the Bible (the word of God written) confront us with bad news of human sin, but in the Bible (and only in the Bible) we find the good news of gospel.  In the gospel, we learn of those things God has done in the person of Jesus Christ to save us from our sins.  This includes Christ’s death and resurrection, but also in his perfect obedience, in which he fulfills all of the demands that God places upon us in the Ten Commandments.  We can’t find this good news in nature.  We can’t find this good news inside our own souls, and we don’t find it in the world’s religions.  

Since we cannot discover the gospel on our own, God graciously reveals it to us in the words of Holy Scripture.  Indeed Scripture itself testifies to its own inspiration (“men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit; all Scripture is “God-breathed”).  The Reformed Confessions remind us of what the Bible declares about itself, and then explain to us how in Scripture, God has given us everything we need to know about how to find God’s will and purpose for our lives, as well as the infallible source of knowledge about the saving work of Jesus Christ.

Since God has revealed everything we need to know about our sin and our salvation in his word, Protestants see no need for an infallible church, infallible church officers (the papacy), or continuing revelation (as in Pentecostalism).  What could God have possibly left out of his word that we need to know about Jesus and his person and work that we don’t already know?  Nothing, of course.

While the Bible doesn’t tell us everything about life (and many mistakenly think of the Bible as the key to the mysteries of the universe, or as the owner’s manual to life, or as a book of timeless truths like Aesop’s Fables), the Bible does tell us what Jesus has done to save us from our sins.  And that is what we mean when we refer to sola Scriptura.  There is no other infallible source about the grace of God and good news of the gospel other than God’s word written. 

Sola Gratia

The biblical picture of human nature is vastly different from that held by most Americans.  We see ourselves and our neighbors as basically good people.  As Americans, we have imbibed deeply from the well of the Enlightenment.  The famous dictum of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant that the Enlightenment has liberated us from the past–all human tradition, authority structures, and from religious dogma–means that truth is to be found within, as pure reason is employed by the self.  Having accepted Kant’s dictum (without even knowing it), Americans are incredibly optimistic about human nature, and the power of the self to discover truth–especially when it comes to religion, which is now relegated to the heart, and something completed divorced from anything external, like the authority of the church, or Scripture.  Scripture gives way to feeling.  Faith is divorced from reason.  Piety is now “spirituality.”  

While there is a relative sense in which we can say that people are good when compared with each other, the Bible, on the other hand, depicts men and women as divine image bearers–like God in every way that a creature can be like God–but who have tragically fallen into sin, so that the glorious image of God remains only in a defaced form.  The Bible speaks of the human race as dead in sin, and as sinners who need to be saved.  The Bible tells us that in addition to being guilty for our own sins, we are also guilty for Adam’s sin, since God chose the first man to represent the entire human race which descends from him.  This is what we mean when we speak of original sin.  There is absolutely nothing we can do to save ourselves from our horrible predicament into which we are born.  We are lost.  We are rebels.  We prefer the optimistic picture Kant paints of us, but only because this is a complete and total rejection of how the Bible describes fallen human nature–as sinful, and unable to do anything pleasing before God.

Reformation Protestants understood humanity to be a race of rebels who have fallen and cannot get up.  Our situation is dire.  We are guilty before God.  We are unable to come to God on our own.  We sin, because we like to sin.  And when the Bible tells us the truth about our predicament, we don’t like it.  In fact, we resent it.

Enter a gracious God.  Sola gratia is the notion that God, in his grace, takes pity on Adam’s fallen race, and not only provides what is necessary for our salvation–the saving work of Jesus Christ–but that while we were still sinners and openly rebelling against him, God nevertheless comes to us through the gospel, regenerates us, calls us to faith in Jesus Christ, and then forgives us of our sins, even reckoning to us the perfect righteousness of Jesus as a free gift.  God does this because he is gracious, not because we are deserving.  

By the phrase Sola gratia we understand that God acts upon the hearts of sinners who are dead in sin, and who do not deserve, nor wish to be saved.  Dead people cannot resurrect themselves, nor do anything to save themselves.  But God can and does make us alive in Christ, and that from that moment on, we trust his wonderful promises to save us from our the guilt of our sins, and so that we desire to live lives which bring him glory.

Solus Christus

When we say that our salvation flows out of the grace of God, we mean that our salvation begins with something good in God, not with something good which God sees in us which makes us worth saving.  If we are a race of fallen sinners, we require a Savior, someone who can come and do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  Guilty sinners cannot declare themselves “not guilty” in a court and then simply leave the court cleared of all charges because they declared themselves “not guilty.”  A jury and a judge must first render a verdict.  As Adam’s descendants, the verdict has already come in–we are guilty as charged on all counts.  If God wishes to save us, then we must have a Savior.  And this Savior must save us in such a way as to satisfy the demands of God’s holy justice, and yet do so in such a way as to display God’s limitless love for sinners.

As someone wiser than I once put it, “grace has a face.”  God’s grace is manifest in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Because it was God’s intention to save a vast multitude of Adam’s fallen race from every tribe and tongue under heaven, God sent Jesus Christ (the second person of the Holy Trinity) to take to himself a true human nature and come to earth, miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin.  Jesus came to do what the first Adam failed to do.  Someone must obey all of God’s commands, yet without sin.  It is Jesus who provides a sacrifice which turns aside God’s wrath and anger toward our sins.  

This is why Jesus is truly human, yet born without sin.  This is why over the course of his life, Jesus humbles himself and suffers among us, all the while completely obedient to all of God’s commandments, in thought, in word, and deed.  This is why Jesus kept telling his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer and die–something they kept trying to talk him out of doing.  

But on Good Friday, Jesus did die at the hands of the Romans, and the Bible tells us with great specificity why.  When Jesus died upon the cross he was bearing in his own flesh the wrath of God toward our sins.  His final words, “it is finished” reveal that Jesus is dying for his people, all those who trust in that death to save them on the day of judgment.  Jesus is being punished, for us, and in our place.  It is truly the wonder of wonders that the son of God became a son of man, so that the sons of men, might becomes sons and daughters of God.

But a dead savior is not a savior.  He is but a mere claimant.  That is why on the third day, the first Easter Sunday, God raised Jesus from the dead.  Not only does this mean that Jesus’ sacrifice accomplished God’s intended purpose–to provide a payment for sin which satisfies his holy justice by paying for the guilt of our sins–the empty tomb also means God has conquered death and the grave and destroyed the consequences of Adam’s sinful transgression.  When Jesus died and rose again, so too, God’s people are promised the same thing on the last day, when they are spared from the day of judgment and are raised imperishable to live forever.

When Protestants affirm solus Christus, we are affirming that Jesus Christ did everything necessary for a sinner to be saved.  Those who trust in Jesus are saved by God, from God.  In Christ’s obedience God provides us with a perfect righteousness, and in his death, God provides us with a once for all sacrifice for sin.  There is no other Savior.  Solus Christus!

Sola Fide

When we speak of solus Christus, we speak of a Savior (Jesus) who has done everything necessary to save us from our sins.  His death satisfies God’s holy justice.  His death is sufficient to pay for the guilt of all my sins, past, present and future.  His death reconciles sinners to God and sets forth both God’s infinite love as well as his perfect justice.  Furthermore, Jesus also lived a life of perfect obedience to the commandments of God–something none of Adam’s fallen children could do.  In Christ Jesus is found everything sinners need to be reconciled unto God.  

But how do these wonderful works and merits of Christ become mine?  Is there some ceremony I must perform?  Is there some vow I must make?  Is there some pilgrimage to a holy place, or is there a journey of self-discovery I must make to so as figure it all out?  Can I find Christ within?  Can I find Christ outside of Scripture?

From the earliest days of the Reformation, Protestants pointed to those many biblical passages which speak of faith alone as the means through which Christ’s wonderful benefits become mine.  It is not as though sola fide is some odd quirky personal opinion of Martin Luther.  Sola fide is the clear teaching of the New Testament, and was tragically been buried by layers of legal opinion (Canon law) and theological obfuscation by the Roman Church.  When Luther read Paul’s Epistle to the Romans directly from the Greek text in which it had been written, it were as though centuries of mud and dirt had been washed from a newly discovered work of art which had been lost and long forgotten.

Luther now understood, quite correctly, that the only way that Christ’s merits become ours is when we stop trying to earn favor with God, and simply trust God’s promise.  Christ’s saving benefits become mine only when I stop looking within, or stop looking in places other than where Christ is revealed.  All God asks me to do is stop trying to save myself, and then through faith in his promise to save me, trust that Jesus’ life and death are indeed sufficient to save me from my sins.
 
Faith is the act of trusting that Jesus’ merits are enough to save me when I stand before God in the judgment.  Sola fide is the expression used when we confess that we are not trusting in our good works, our virtue, our church, our piety, or any other such thing.  Sola fide simply means trusting in Christ alone.  Christ plus nothing.  Christ minus nothing.

Americans have a hard time believing this.  We are good people.  We are rugged and capable.  We want God to tell us what to do and then let us do it.  Instead, God says stop doing.  Trust me.  Renounce all your efforts to earn my favor, stop trying to work your way into heaven, and simply accept by faith what I offer as a free gift–the merits of Christ.

In the person of his son, God offers the complete forgiveness of all our sins and a perfect righteousness which can withstand his holy gaze on the day of judgment.  And this free gift is accepted with the empty hands of faith, which is a humble but hearty trust in the promises of an all-powerful and gracious God to save even me.

Soli Deo Gloria

So, at the end of the day, where do we find true happiness?  Do we find it in our accumulated wealth and possessions?  Do we find it in our personal accomplishments?  Or, having grasped the depths of our sin, and the glories of the gospel, do we find our true happiness in God’s glorious provision to save us from our sins?  Soli Deo Gloria is that Reformation slogan which sums up all the others.  When we profess glory to God alone, we are attributing to God all glory, majesty, and honor.  For these attributes are rightly his–these honors cannot be rightly attributed to Popes nor saints, nor sinners.  When we confess Soli Deo Gloria, we are simply thanking God for all that he has done for us in Jesus Christ.  We are attributing to him that honor due that one alone who have saved us from all our sins.

When Martin Luther challenged the Roman doctrine of penance, he unleashed a pent-up force which shook all of Europe.  When Luther discovered that the Latin translation of the verb “do penance” was really “repent” (change your mind) in the Greek text of the New Testament, Luther understood for the first time that the gospel wasn’t about our doing anything.  Luther began to see with greater and greater clarity what Protestants now often take for granted.  The gospel was all about what God has done for us in the person of his Son.  We come before God as needy beggars and humbly receive the benefits that Christ freely gives to us.  

When Luther articulated the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone, Luther directed struggling sinners to seek peace for their souls in the saving work of a gracious God, and not in the church’s ability to dispense grace though a man-made system of penance and priestcraft, which completely obscured God’s grace in Christ.  This not only set sinners free from the church, but the Reformation changed every aspect of life.

As the Protestant Reformation took root across Europe and then spread to the new world, God’s people began to realize that having been set free from their sins, they were also set free to do all things in life not out of fear, or servitude, but to bring God all honor and praise.  Life itself was to be lived before God, through the blessings of Christ.  No priests must intervene.  No indulgences were required.  Every believer was now a priest with equal access before God, because of the intercession of Christ, the great high priest.  Every believer was now free to pursue their own calling and vocation, whether that be raising children, making shoes, or tilling the soil–all with the knowledge that in Christ, God blesses their daily labors.  The grateful heart inevitably directs its praise and worship to God.  To God alone be the glory.    

No wonder that Soli Deo Gloria became an expression of gratitude throughout the Protestant world.  J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel included the initials SDG on their major compositions.  Public buildings and Protestant homes and personal effects bore this affirmation of praise, as did Protestant churches.  A redeemed sinner cannot help but agree with the words of Shakespeare.  “That word grace, on the lips of an ungrateful person is profanity.”

So, whenever we consider our plight before God, and then recall all that God has done to save us form our sins, how can our hearts not well-up with emotion, and the desire to confess yet again Soli Deo Gloria.  Gloria to God alone!