Bishop’s Letter on Reformation Day
31 October 2015 Anno Domini
Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door at All Saints in Wittenberg, Germany, 498 years ago. The Roman Catholic Church had grown more and more corrupt in both worship and fidelity to the Word of God. She began to assert that her own Word took precedence over the Bible. Sins could be bought and paid for through indulgences. Luther had seen enough. His familiarity with Holy Scripture, somewhat rare for a Roman clergyman, told him that the Pope was wrong, and the errors of the Papacy flowed downward to infect the entire church. Luther was a man of courage – but not his own. He relied upon the courage of the Holy Ghost in taking an uncompromising stand for Holy Writ.
If Luther were here today, he would doubtless be one of those committed Christians of the Levant whom the Islamist are beheading if they fail to renounce Christ. Luther would not have done so. He would have stood on the Foundation of Truth and not consider otherwise. There are many Christian children of Syria today who have been beheaded because they refused to renounce their Christian faith. I wonder if the pulpit dandies of our day in America would demonstrate such faith and courage. I wonder if you and I would do so.
There is a trend today to disregard everything that is negative. All are supposed to have a positive outlook and always to expect the best. How far would such an attitude benefit the martyred Christians of the Reformation, of China, of Africa, of South America, etc? The Scriptures do not teach such foolishness. Eight of the Ten Commandments are negative, and there cannot truly be positives in the absence of negatives. Without both negatives and positives, electrical current could not be generated. God promises blessings for certain behaviors, and curses for others. As we read them from Holy Scripture, I hope you will ask two questions – how does this relate to me? and secondly, How does this relate to my country.
GOD’S PROMISED BLESSINGS FOR THOSE WHO HONOR HIS WORD:
“1 Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God. 2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD. 3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; 4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. 6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. 7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. 9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. 10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. 11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. 13 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.” (Lev 26:1-14 KJV)
GOD’S ASSURED CURSES FOR THOSE WHO DISHONOR HIS WORD:
“14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; 15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: 16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. 17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. 18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits. 21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. 22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate. 23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; 24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. 25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied. 27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; 28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. 29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. 30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. 31 And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. 32 And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. 33 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. 34 Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. 35 As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. 36 And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth. 37 And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies. 38 And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. 39 And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.” (Lev 26:14-39 KJV)
Since God’s blessings are of greater potency than His curses, the curses outnumber the blessings by far. Of course, to summarize the blessings: If we have the FAVOR of God, we have all others of His blessings. If we have the DISFAVOR of God, we are devoid of hope.
THE ANSWER FO SIN:
“40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; 41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: 42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. 43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.” (Lev 26:40-43, see also 2 Chron 7:14)
Perhaps our churches are reaching the proliferation of error and wickedness as the Roman Church prior to the Reformation. It is likely that another Reformation is in order – not to introduce a new worship and a new Word, but to return to the ancient worship of the early Church, and the inerrant and immutable Word of God that was first given to the saints in the remote shadows of ages past. That is what our Reformers did, and we can do no less.