Monthly Archives: October 2013

Halloween? Nope.

Today is October 31st. This evening you will see witches, ghosts, goblins, princesses, football players, firefighters, and every other person imaginable running around your neighborhood. Costumes will be worn, candy will be given, and fun will be had.

Technically speaking, today is Halloween. I titled this article rather provocatively to make a point: There is another holiday that takes place today! In my opinion, this other holiday is far more significant than Halloween.

So what other holiday takes place on October 31st? To answer that question, we must go back to the year 1517. That year, Johann Tetzel–a Dominican friar and papal commissioner for indulgences–was sent to Germany by the Roman Catholic Church to raise money to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. A saying commonly attributed to Tetzel is, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” Martin Luther objected to the practice of selling indulgences in order to reduce time in purgatory, and he wrote up a list of 95 Theses explaining his position. On October 31st, 1517, Luther nailed his list of 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. That’s actually not as crazy a thing to do as it sound–back then, the church door functioned as a sort of bulletin board.

Luther’s nailing his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenburg is commonly referred to as the first spark of the Protestant Reformation. Many Lutheran and Reformed churches celebrate Reformation Day on October 31st in remembrance of this event.

Regardless of your opinion of the Reformation, I think we can all benefit from it. One of the core emphases of the Reformation was the authority of Scripture–it is the Word of God and thus speaks authoritatively on matters concerning life and doctrine. In honor of Reformation Day, let’s briefly look at what the Scriptures say about themselves.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. (Psalm 19:7-8, ESV)

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17, ESV)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, ESV)

For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21, ESV)

On this Reformation Day, remember: Scripture is powerful. It is living and active, the very word of God. Read it, study it, love it!

Free Card: Justification

At the Apologetics workshop I taught in Memphis, Tennessee a month or so ago, we finished out our time by writing an actual Apologetics card. What I want to do is twofold: share that card with you and give a brief explanation of the process of writing it.

First, the card itself–that way you’ll be able to follow along with the rest of this post. Click here to view the card. You can even download it if you want!

Second, the writing process. We started off by finding a dozen or so verses on justification and tossing them all into a blank document. We then went to Systematic Theology and searched the internet to find some quotes from websites.

Because justification is a definition topic, we went with a simple two-point outline: meaning and significance. Underneath each point we had several subpoints that we wanted to make.

The central issue in point one is that justification is a declaration–it doesn’t make you righteous or unrighteous, but is God’s declaration that you are righteous. God “justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5). That is, He declares the unrighteous to be righteous based upon the death of His Son. His justification is not what makes us righteous–positional sanctification does that. (Note: Positional sanctification is not at all the same as practical sanctification. Confounding the two creates heresy. Click here for an great article that explains the difference.)

Under the second point, we derived the subpoints from the verses, not vice versa–we didn’t create the subpoints and then go prooftexting to support them. This is by far the best and easiest way to create points–see what the Bible says and then make the Biblical position into a point.

A lot more could be said, but that’s a very basic explanation. Feel free to take and adapt the card however you’d like!