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Posts Tagged ‘Reformation

I’m Reformed

What does Reformed mean?  According to dictionary.reference.com it means:

amended by removal of faults, abuses, etc.

Calvinists often use the term for their branch of theology.  Reformed theology.  The idea is to focus the person back to the Reformation.  In this way, Calvinists often perceive themselves as not just children of the Protestant Reformation but in fact they see themselves as the protectors of the Reformation.  Of course, Lutherans would disagree as would many other Protestants including Arminians.

Arminius was a Reformer.  His theology was clearly Protestant.  Arminius had no love for the Roman Catholic Church despite some who want to believe that Arminius was a secret Catholic or at least he shared sympathy for their theology.  This is clearly not the case.  Arminius differed with Catholicism in many ways especially in the area of justification.  Here Arminius aligned himself clearly with the Protestants as he wrote:

From the premises thus laid down according to the Scriptures, we conclude, that justification, when used for the act of a Judge, is either purely the imputation of righteousness through mercy from the throne of grace in Christ the propitiation made to a sinner, but who is a believer; (Rom. i, 16, 17; Gal. iii, 6, 7;) or that man is justified before God, of debt, according to the rigor of justice without any forgiveness. (Rom. 3, 4.) Because the Papists deny the latter, they ought to concede the former. And this is such a truth, that, how high soever may be the endowments of any one of the Saints in faith, hope and charity, and however numerous and excellent the works of faith, hope and charity may be which he has performed, he will receive no sentence of justification from God the Judge, unless He quit the tribunal of his severe justice and ascend the throne of grace, and from it pronounce a sentence of absolution in his favour, and unless the Lord of his mercy and pity graciously account for righteousness the whole of that good with which the saint appears before Him. For, woe to a life of the utmost innocency, if it be judged without mercy. (Psalm xxxii, 1, 2, 5, 6; cxliii, 2; 1 John i, 7-10; 1 Cor. iv, 4.) This is a confession which even the Papists seem to make when they assert, that the works of the Saints cannot stand before the judgment of God unless they be sprinkled with the blood of Christ.

Arminius loved the catholic church but by this he meant the universal church.  He writes again:

The catholic church is the company of all believers, called out from every language, tribe, people, nation and calling, who have been, are now, and will be, called by the saving vocation of God from a state of corruption to the dignity of the children of God, through the word of the covenant of grace, and engrafted into Christ, as living members to their head through true faith, to the praise of the glory of the grace of God. From this, it appears that the catholic church differs from particular churches in nothing which appertains to the substance of a church, but solely in her amplitude.

And how does one get into this catholic church?  Arminius answers:

The efficient cause of the church, that both produces her by regeneration and preserves her by daily education, and that perfects her by an immediate union of her to himself, is God the Father, in his well beloved Son Jesus Christ, by the Spirit of Christ who is the Redeemer and the Head of the church. (2 Tim. i, 9; 1 Pet. i, 12.) We view the gospel as the instrument, that is, “the incorruptible seed by which the church is born again.” (1 Pet. i, 23, 25.)

When it comes to Arminius’ disagreements with the Calvinists of his day (and bear in mind that Arminius was a student of Reformed theology having studied under Beza in Geneva and was assigned by the Calvinists of his day to debate the Anabaptists), Arminius differed over the issue of creeds.  Arminius believed that creeds and councils and catechisms can err.  He wrote:

The authority of councils is not absolute, but dependent on the authority of God; for this reason, no one is simply bound to assent to those things which have been decreed in a council, unless those persons be present, as members, who cannot err, and who have the undoubted marks and testimonies of the Holy Spirit to this fact. But every one may, nay, he is bound, to examine, by the word of God, those things which have been concluded in the council; and if he finds them to be agreeable to the divine word, then he may approve of them; but if they are not, then he may express his disapprobation. Yet he must be cautious not easily to reject that which has been determined by the unanimous consent of so many pious and learned men; but he ought diligently to consider, whether it has the Scriptures pronouncing in favour of it with sufficient clearness; and when this is the case, he may yield his assent, in the Lord, to their unanimous agreement.

The cry of the Reformation had been: “Reformed and always reforming.”  The Reformation students understood that the church might err yet again as the Roman Catholics had erred.  Arminius understood this point, writing:

It is also allowable for a later ecumenical or general council to call in doubt that which had been decreed by a preceding general council, because it is possible even for general councils to err; nor yet does it follow from these premises that the catholic church errs; that is, that all the faithful universally err.

Apostasy can come to even the best of people.  Why?  Because they are humans (Romans 3:10-18).  People often make mistakes.  This is why Reformation is needed.  There is no denying that the Lord will always have His faithful bride (2 Timothy 2:19).  I see nothing in Scripture to suggest a complete apostasy from the faith but people do err.  We must be careful to examine all things by the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  We are called to test the spirits (1 John 4:1) and this only happens when we take the inerrant and infallible Word of God and test all teachings.

In this sense, I am Reformed.  I am not a Calvinist but I believe that the disciple of Jesus often needs reforming.  Our minds can wander.  Our hearts can grow cold (Revelation 2:4). We can become worldly minded.  The disciple should strive to know God and know His Word (John 17:3; Romans 12:1-2).  The disciple should be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to reform us not just in our theology but in our hearts and actions.  We are new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17) let us then live like it (Ephesians 4:17-24; 5:8-21).  The Holy Spirit is always desiring to reform us and make us more like Christ.

Arminius desired this as well.  He desired the church to always be reforming.  We must not grow satisfied with merely having sound doctrine.  We must not be satisfied with merely saying we are not Roman Catholics.  We must go hard after Jesus.  We should strive to love Him more and more, to worship Him who sits on the throne.  We should hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6) knowing that our satisfaction will be found in Jesus our head.

My prayer is to be more like Jesus.  I am so tired of me.  I am tired of trying to reform my ways when my heart is the issue.  I pray that the Lord Jesus will be glorified through me and that He would be Lord of my life completely in every way.  I want to exalt Jesus and not myself.  I want to see Jesus glorified among His saints.

Grant this all Lord Jesus!

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Happy Reformation Day

Thank God for Martin Luther otherwise I might be Catholic living in Europe and dead in my sins (Ephesians 2:1-3).  

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/31/2015 at 11:55 AM

Posted in church, Protestant

Tagged with , ,

Standing for the Reformation

What would it take for Christians to accept Roman Catholics as part of the fold?  What doctrines must the Roman Catholic Church denounce for us to accept them as true disciples of Jesus?  I have a few things I would love to see the Roman Catholic Church renounce to become part of the true Church of the living God.

1.  Denounce the Catholic Rejection of Sola Scriptura.

The Catholic Church must accept the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God for me to accept them as true disciples.

2.  Denounce the Catholic Approval of the Apocrypha.

The Roman Catholic Church must accept the 66 Books of the Biblical canon for me to accept them as true disciples.

3.  Denounce Good Works As Meritorious Before God.

Salvation is the work of God (John 1:12-13) and does not come by the works of men (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Good works flow from our salvation and not for our salvation (Isaiah 64:6; John 6:29; Acts 13:38-39; 15:11; Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:11-14; James 2:14-26).

4.  Denounce the Authority of the Pope and His Office.

Arminius called the pope the antichrist (1 John 2:18).  All the Reformers viewed the pope as the antichrist.  The popery is unbiblical and does not have any authority from God nor from the Apostles.

5.  Denounce Praying to the Saints.

The true disciple has one mediator before God and that is the perfect Son of God (1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 2:1-2).  We have no need for prayer to dead saints.

6.  Denounce Sainthood and Embrace the Priesthood of the Believers.

We are all saints in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:2).  We are all priests unto God through the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5; Revelation 1:6).

7.  Denounce That Salvation Comes By Any Means Other than Christ Jesus.

This is the principle of Christ alone.  We are not saved by being a member of an organization but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:26-27).  Jesus alone saves by His own grace and mercy (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  We are saved by the precious blood of Christ alone (1 Peter 1:18-19).

8.  Denounce the Teaching that Priests Can Forgive Sins.

Only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:6-11).  See also Isaiah 43:25.  James 5:16 does tell us to confess our sins to one another (not to a priest) but the text does not say that people give forgiveness for only God can (1 John 1:9).

9.  Denounce the Teaching Concerning the Virgin Mary.

The idea that Mary was born a virgin (the immaculate conception) and remained a virgin has no biblical basis.  Further, Mary is never painted as a co-redeemer with Christ.  Mary needed salvation just as we all have (Luke 1:47).  Mary went on to have other children by normal means (Matthew 1:25; Luke 8:20).  No where in the Bible are we taught that Mary was a perpetual virgin nor does it teach that she is someone who we can pray to.

10.  Embrace and Preach that Jesus Christ Alone Saves By His Grace Through Faith.

The Roman Catholic Church must preach that we are saved by Christ alone, by His grace alone, through faith alone.  We are not saved by what we do but by what Jesus has already done (John 19:30).  The work of salvation is finished.  Jesus has done all we need for salvation (Romans 3:22-25).  We are justified before God by faith (Romans 5:1).  We are not saved by our baptism in the church or our confirmation in the church. We are saved by the work of Christ and we look to Him alone to save us from our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9).  Our salvation is always based on the work of Jesus (John 14:6).

11.  Denounce the Teaching of Purgatory.  

We must be saved in this life (Hebrews 9:22, 27-28).  We are not saved after we die.  We are not sanctified by the fires of purgatory.  The Bible says that we are sanctified in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  Our eternal salvation is the finished work of Christ alone (Hebrews 7:22-28; 10:12).

12.  Denounce the Unbiblical Leadership Model of the Catholic Church.

This would include the pope but also the cardinals and the bishops.  1 Peter 5:1-4 teaches us that elders are to be our leaders by their example that comes from following the example of Jesus Christ our true shepherd (John 13:1-20).

13.  Acknowledge that Jesus Christ Alone is the Head of the Church.

This goes back to the popery.  Jesus Christ is the head of His Church (Matthew 16:18; Colossians 1:15-20).  Let us embrace Jesus alone as the One who is leading His people by His Word (John 8:47; 10:27-29).

Conclusion

I am sure some of you could write much more.  Let us all pray that Catholics repent and turn to Christ alone for salvation (Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10).  Christ alone is the only one who can bring us peace with a holy God (Romans 5:8-9).  Let us pray for the Reformation to still make an impact on Rome to call it to repentance and back to the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/01/2014 at 11:11 AM

Arminius on the Catholic Church (Part 4)

This is the final installment of allowing Arminius to share his thoughts with us on the Roman Catholic Church and her pope.  While his words are not as gracious as we might find in today’s Church when dealing with the Catholics, certainly we would agree with Arminius that the Catholic Church needs the gospel of Christ to tear down her traditions that have robed God of His glory and the people of their salvation in Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17; Titus 1:16).  

XII. It is demonstrable by the most evident arguments that the name of Antichrist and of The Adversary of God belongs to him. For the apostle ascribes the second of these epithets to him when he calls him “the man of sin, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thess. ii, 3-8.) It was he who should arise out of the ruins of the Roman empire, and should occupy its vacant digaity. These expressions, we assert, must be understood, and can be understood, solely respecting the Roman pontiff. But the name of “The Antichrist” belongs to him pre-eminently, whether the particle anti signifies opposition, or the substitution of one thing for another; not indeed such a substitution as is lawfully and legitimately made by Him who has the power of placing things in subordination, but it signifies one by which any man is substituted, either by himself or by another person through force and fraud. For he is both a rival to Christ, and his adversary, when he boasts of himself as the spouse, the head, and the foundation of the church, endowed with plenitude of power; and yet he professes himself to be the vicegerent of Christ, and to perform his functions on earth, for the sake of his own private advantage, but to the manifest injury of the church of Christ. He has, however, considered it necessary to employ the name of Christ as a pretext, that under this sacred name he may obtain that reverence for himself among Christians, which he would be unable to procure if he were openly to profess himself to be either the Christ, or the adversary of Christ.

XIII. Although the Roman pontiff calls himself “the servant of the servants of God,” yet we further assert that he is by way of eminence, That Wicked And Perverse Servant, who, when he saw that his Lord delayed his coming, “began to smite his fellow-servants.” (Matt. 24, 48.) For the Roman pontiff has usurped domination and tyranny, not only over his fellow- servants, the bishops of the church of God, but likewise over emperors and kings themselves, whose authority and dignity he had himself previously acknowledged. To acquire this domination for himself, and still further to augment and establish it, he has employed all kinds of satanic instruments — sophistical hypocrisy, lies, equivocations, perfidy, perjury, violence, poison, and armed forces — so that he may most justly be said to have succeeded that formidable beast which “was like unto a leopard, a bear and a lion,” and by which the Roman empire was prefigured — and to have “had power to give life unto the image of the beast, and to cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast, should be killed.”

XIV. Lastly, though from all these remarks it will readily appear that the Roman pontiff is unworthy of the name of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, and of universal bishop; (1 Cor. iii, 5; xii, 28; Ephes. iv, 11;) yet, by this single argument, which is deduced from their peculiar attributes and duties, the very same satisfactory conclusions may be rendered evident to all who search the scriptures of the Old and the New Testament, and especially the epistles of St. Paul to Timothy and Titus. (1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1.) Nor will this evasion avail any thing, “that whatever a man does through another who is his vicar or substitute, he seems to do it himself;” for it is Christ alone who makes use of the vicarious aid of these persons as ministers; and the duties which they perform, are such as ought to be discharged by those who are distinguished by those titles. (Gal. i, 7-9.) Therefore, that rightly appertains to the Roman pontiff which God threatens through the prophet Zechariah, that he will raise up a foolish shepherd, and an idol shepherd, who shall devote no attention to the sheep, but who “shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.” (Zech. xi, 15-17.) God grant that the church, being delivered from the frauds and tyranny of Antichrist, may obtain shepherds that may feed her in truth, charity and prudence, to the salvation of the sheep themselves, and to the glory of the chief Shepherd. Amen.

COROLLARIES

I. It is a part of religious wisdom to separate the Court of Rome from the church, in which the pontiff sits. II. The Roman pontiff, even when conducting himself with the greatest propriety, must not be acknowledged by any human or positive right as the head of the church, or the universal bishop; and such acknowledgment of him has hitherto contributed, and does in its very nature contribute, not so much to preserve unity in the church, and to restrain the license of thinking, speaking and teaching differently on the chief articles of religion, as to take away necessary liberty, and that which is agreeable to the word of God, and to introduce a real tyranny.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/25/2012 at 1:43 PM

Martin Luther’s Prayer Before Facing the Diet of Worms

While listening to a lecture given by Dr. R.C. Sproul Sr. on Martin Luther, he read the prayer that Luther wrote down the night before facing the Diet of Worms in 1521.  Luther was being asked to recant and renounce his views regarding his writings and his attacks on the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrines particularly the doctrine of salvation.  The Diet wanted Luther to affirm the Catholic teaching regarding indulgences and righteousness through merits.  When you read Luther’s prayer in light of what he faced (death), you see his boldness in praying.  His prayer reminds me of many of the Psalms.  Below is the prayer of Luther.

O God, Almighty God everlasting! how dreadful is the world! behold how its mouth opens to swallow me up, and how small is my faith in Thee! . . . Oh! the weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan! If I am to depend upon any strength of this world – all is over . . . The knell is struck . . . Sentence is gone forth . . . O God! O God! O thou, my God! help me against the wisdom of this world. Do this, I beseech thee; thou shouldst do this . . . by thy own mighty power . . . The work is not mine, but Thine. I have no business here . . . I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world! I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace. But the cause is Thine . . . And it is righteous and everlasting! O Lord! help me! O faithful and unchangeable God! I lean not upon man. It were vain! Whatever is of man is tottering, whatever proceeds from him must fail. My God! my God! dost thou not hear? My God! art thou no longer living? Nay, thou canst not die. Thou dost but hide Thyself. Thou hast chosen me for this work. I know it! . . . Therefore, O God, accomplish thine own will! Forsake me not, for the sake of thy well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ, my defence, my buckler, and my stronghold.

Lord – where art thou? . . . My God, where art thou? . . . Come! I pray thee, I am ready . . . Behold me prepared to lay down my life for thy truth . . . suffering like a lamb. For the cause is holy. It is thine own! . . . I will not let thee go! no, nor yet for all eternity! And though the world should be thronged with devils – and this body, which is the work of thine hands, should be cast forth, trodden under foot, cut in pieces, . . . consumed to ashes, my soul is thine. Yes, I have thine own word to assure me of it. My soul belongs to thee, and will abide with thee forever! Amen! O God send help! . . . Amen!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/31/2011 at 4:37 PM

Martin Luther Biography

I want to commend Dr. R.C. Sproul for his series on Martin Luther.  I have learned much from my Calvinist brother about Luther.  The issue of the Reformation is what allows us Arminians and Calvinists to debate as we are debating our theological positions from inside the safety of the Protestant Reformation.  We Arminians stand with our Calvinist brethren and support the cry of the Reformation and Martin Luther for justification by faith (Romans 5:1-11).

You can find out more about Dr. Sproul’s series here.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/31/2011 at 12:36 PM

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