The driving interest of every believer should be the glory of God. This is no less true, and more true, in the case of His work in the plan of redemption and in the individual’s salvation.
How is God most glorified in salvation? By doing it all himself. Placing some of the motive, some of the means, some of the merit for salvation in the hands of sinful man robs God of glory. This is the duty of the believer, then, to acknowledge God’s preeminence, his sovereignty, his glory, in salvation.
“Merit” figures prominently in discussion about salvation, and who is to be justified before God. The Reformation principle solus Christus — Christ alone — is still relevant today, when individuals and groups of Christians look around to assign merit to many things other than, or in addition to, Jesus Christ.
Does Mary provide merit? Do the saints? Does the individual believer provide anything of merit toward the person’s salvation? According to Scripture, none of those do. Only Jesus has merit necessary for justification. There is no other name under heaven…Acts 4:12
Because God justifies through faith alone, we must repent and believe (Romans 3:21-30).
How is a person justified? By grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. So said the Reformers, and the reformed. When we say we are justified “by faith alone,” we mean that works have no part in our justification.
Because God is free to save whom he will, we must praise his grace.
Why does God act to justify some? By grace alone. That is, there is nothing that compels God to demonstrate grace; not the goodness of man, not demands of justice…nothing. It is by God’s good pleasure that he justifies those who don’t deserve it.
Because God has spoken, we must not raise earthly powers above God’s word.
The Reformation principle of sola scriptura — Scripture alone — is still relevant today. The Roman Catholic church continues to give equal weight to the Bible and to the pronouncement of church councils. Further, protestant churches increasingly depart from the authority of Scripture, relying upon conventional wisdom, personal opinion, and cultural dictates.
The church needs to consistently promote the authority and the sufficiency of God’s word.
This year is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Here’s a little ditty to enhance your celebration, from the folks at LutheranReformation.org.
Believers sometimes look around for specific instructions from God, and find nothing we like. Sometimes it seems that God has forgotten to give us enough instruction, so we end up taking the wrong steps or even refusing to take any steps to follow Christ.
But are we as direction-less as we suppose?
A curious thing happens when Joshua is finally able to lead the people into the promised land. We’re probably familiar with Joshua 1:8 (ESV):
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
This passage is cited frequently as an encouragement to pay diligent, consistent attention to the word of God. It’s used to encourage Bible reading, memorization, and meditation. And, less legitimately, to lay claim to a broad promise of “prosperity” and “success” for every believer, no matter the endeavor, leading the hapless five footer to claim the ability to dunk a basketball while muttering I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.