Odds & Ends: October 2017
Pillars of the faith
Because Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, many Christians remember that day and the major changes, or Reformation, that resulted.
Luther's theses contained three main pillars, which have stood for almost 500 years:
1. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) - The Bible is the sole authority in matters of faith, life and conduct. "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16, NRSV).
2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone) - Christians are justified, or declared righteous, only through believing in Jesus Christ as Savior. Although morality and good works are important, they alone cannot lead to salvation. "A person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ" (Galatians 2:16, NRSV).
3. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) - Grace is God's unmerited, or undeserved, favor. Salvation is a free gift from our gracious God. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - not the result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9, NRSV).
Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow.
The same God who cares for you today
Will take care of you and yours tomorrow and every day.
Either God will shield you from suffering
Or God will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then and put aside
All anxious thoughts and imaginations.
—St. Francis de Sales
Great changes are the result of fervent prayer, as pastor and evangelist A.C. Dixon noted:
"The revival which we call the Reformation was born in prayer. [Martin] Luther's habit was to pray three hours a day. The knees of [Philipp] Melanchthon were found after his death to have been made callous[ed] by kneeling. Pentecost was preceded by 10 days of supplication and prayer. Peter and John were in the spirit of prayer on their way into the temple, when the other great revival in which many were converted was commenced. ... Oh, for Elijahs who can break up the spiritual drought by praying rain out of the skies!"
To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.