Slaying The Dragon of Legalism. Because Grace Didn't End With Salvation.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Post Tenebras Lux
In Geneva, Switzerland there is a wall called The Reformation Wall. That’s it in the picture above. I’ll tell you a little about it.
But first, let me tell you a happy — and sad — and happy story on this Reformation Day, October 31.
A happy story…
The happy story is that over two thousand years ago, God came to Earth as a baby, born of a virgin, Mary in Bethlehem of Judea.
His name was Jesus (which He was named because it means something like “yahweh or jehovah saves”, and He would indeed save his people from their sins — “God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing ye dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day.”).
Jesus grew to be a man, was crucified and died on a cross to pay for our sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead on the third day.
And whoever will believe in Him is saved from their sins and hell, and will have eternal life forever with God.
This good news is called The Gospel, because “gospel” means “good news”. And this salvation was (and is) a free gift from God to all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That “free” aspect is what is called “grace”, and our salvation is by grace…that is, free!
There. I’ve covered Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and and the Gospel.
A sad story…
But there is a bad news, sort of. The bad news is that a form of religion crowded in on this good news, this gospel.
Men, in the name of The Church, began to add things to this Good News, this Gospel.
Things like Sacraments which they said could give us “grace”.
Things like priests, and popes who claimed to be “intermediaries” between God and men, even “vicars” (actual fill-ins for Christ on Earth).
Things like “good works” which they said must be mixed with “grace” in order for us to get to heaven. They wrote in official documents that the Sacraments and the “good works” gave us “grace”, contradicting the very meaning of “grace” as a “free gift”.
They even invented something called Purgatory, so that those who didn’t do enough good works and sacraments on Earth could get “purged” of their uncleanness by suffering over many many years after death, sort of earning their final passage into heaven.
The popes sold what were called “indulgences” for money, so that fearful people could buy the way out of purgatory and into heaven for their friends and relatives who had already died.
They so perverted the Good News of the Gospel, that the masses of people descended into Darkness, no longer even knowing what the Gospel was. They descended into the Darkness of trying to earn their way into heaven, an impossibility in light of the awesome holiness of the God whose standards all of us have broken.
And no doubt millions perished under this great Darkness, just as millions today perish under the dark illusion that they can merit what can only be given as a gift by God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But the story becomes happy again.
After 1,000 years of this Darkness, God opened the eyes and hearts of a few…then many.
One of the first was a Catholic Monk, Martin Luther, who had his heart opened as he read the Scriptures, and realized for the first time that salvation was a free gift of grace, through faith alone, not earned by works. Alas, lacking blogging software, he posted his “95 Theses” by nailing them to the church door at Wittenburg, Germany, stating some of the errors of the Roman Catholic Church and its Pope. And thereby endangering his own life.
That day, October 31, 1517, Luther began, and joined with others, in a movement that blew open a window of Light that the Darkness folks have not been able to shut since.
I said I’d tell you about the Reformation Wall in the picture above. It portrays four others of these “Reformers” who went out and proclaimed the Light of the Gospel which had been mostly hidden in Darkness for so many years.
They are Guillaume Farel, the first to spread this Reformation in Geneva — John Calvin, a main leader of the Reformation Movement, and spiritual father of Geneva — Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor, and — John Knox, friend of Calvin and the mighty preacher of the Reformation in Scotland.
These men were not gods. They were mere men. Fallible men. But God used them to light a fire that has still not gone out. And on this Reformation Day we “give honor to whom honor is due”, to these men whom God used so wonderfully.
On that wall is printed a Latin phrase, the title of this post:
Post Tenebras Lux.
It means literally “After Darkness Light”, or:
Light After Darkness.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” Then He said, “You are the light of the world”, referring to us, His disciples who tell others about Him and His Gospel. As we shed the light of the Gospel of grace, God opens up more and more hearts, making disciples who desire to learn of Him.
Friend, if you don’t know Jesus Christ, I urge you to call on Him as your Lord and Savior.
After 1,000 years of darkness, God saw fit to raise up a few men, who recaptured the ancient truth:
Whoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.