October, 2010

Reflections: On the Protestant Reformation

Reformation Day:  October 31

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed “95 Theses” to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, sparking the Protestant Reformation.  We celebrate the Reformation not because it perfected the church, but because it helped renew biblical teaching concerning salvation through Christ alone apart from our works; the authority of Scripture; and biblical teaching concerning marriage and family, worship, preaching, and more.

When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

– Thesis # 1

Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.  God help me. Amen.

– Martin Luther, Reformer in Germany

Wherever the knowledge of [justification by faith] is taken away, the glory of Christ is extinguished, religion abolished, the church destroyed, and the hope of salvation utterly overthrown.

– John Calvin, Reformer in Switzerland

Almighty God and most merciful Father, we humbly submit ourselves and fall down before Thy majesty, beseeching Thee from the bottom of our hearts, that this seed of Thy word, now sown among us, may take such deep root, that neither the burning heat of persecution cause it to wither, nor the thorny cares of this life choke it, but that like seed sown in good ground, it may bring forth 30, 60, and 100 fold, as Thy heavenly wisdom hath appointed.

– John Knox, Reformer in Scotland

Reflections on Ministry to Children

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. – Jesus, Luke 18:16

It takes as much or more understanding of a Biblical doctrine to teach it to children than it does to teach it to adults. If you understand a thing well, you can usually make it plain for ordinary people and children. But if you are fuzzy in your own understanding, you will generally be overly complex in your explanation.

If you are receiving the kingdom yourself like a little child, then you will not do anything to hinder little children from coming to Jesus. But if you are trying to enter the kingdom some other way than by receiving it like a child, then you will probably be a hindrance to children. If you are not childlike toward God, children will probably be beneath you and not worth your time.

So there is a very close connection between your own humility and your ability to lead children to Jesus. The great hindrance to effective ministry to children is pride, and the great gift for ministry to children is humility.

Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.  – Jesus, Luke 18:17

These quotations are from a short essay by John Piper, “Let the Little Children Come to Me,” available on the free books table.