Thousand Hills Baptist Association
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Monthly Message from the Director of Missions

November 2017

This is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  In 1517 a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed a document on the wooden church door at the Catholic church at Wittenberg, Germany.  These “95 Theses” were theological disputations objecting to corrupt practices in the church.  Included in these objections was a protest against the church selling “indulgences” to people which purported to shorten their time in Purgatory upon their death.  Luther was an avid student of the Bible and had come to discover true faith was found through confessing to Christ, not following man-made rules and practices of the church.  He immediately created a firestorm of protest and was eventually hounded out of the church and thus began a movement that continues to this day among protestant and evangelical churches. 

The practice of selling indulgences was a repugnant one.  An agent of the church named Johann Tetzel was traveling around Germany offering these certificates for sale.  They granted the bearer less consequences for their sins upon death.  It was simply “selling salvation” to these poor souls who were being deceived.  Luther saw it for what it was, a corruption of the church.  A popular story about Tetzel says he would sing a jingle as he preached, “Every time a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs.” 

When I was in college at Southwest Baptist University I had occasion to go into the faculty lounge of the theology school one afternoon. The lounge had a refrigerator with soda pop for sale to the staff.  It was an honor system with a coffee mug for your payment.  The director of the department had made a little sign on the door that read “Every time a coin in the coffee cup rings, a soda from the refrigerator may spring!”  It was a funny take on Tetzel’s practice, maybe a little more innocent.

Several THBA pastors have been preaching about the Protestant Reformation this fall. Some are structuring their messages around Luther’s five “Sola” tenets. These Latin phrases are: * Sola Scriptura - The Bible alone is the source of truth and authority * Sola Fide- Faith alone is sufficient for salvation * Sola Gratia - We are saved by grace only * Sola Christus - Christ alone is our Lord * Sola Deo Gloria - We live for the glory of God alone.

If you like church history, you might want to pick up a copy of Ben Hawkins’ new book “Pathways to Reform” which chronicles the stories of the reformers in the 15th and 16th century in Europe.  You can get a copy for $5 from The Pathway newspaper at the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Celebrate the Reformation this fall.  Thank God for men like Martin Luther who rose up and proclaimed Jesus Christ as the only way to be saved from sin.  Salvation is not for sale and cannot be earned. We are “justified by faith” (Romans 5:1).

And if you come to my office, the coffee is free, no coin needed!  Have a great month!  Thanks for reading The Messenger today.