Guiltless Joy

I was reading Zechariah 3 the other day and I was struck by this beautiful picture of guilt being removed from the high priest, Joshua (whose name means “Yahweh Saves”).

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan: “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Isn’t this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the Angel. So the Angel of the Lord spoke to those standing before Him, “Take off his filthy clothes!” Then He said to him, “See, I have removed your guilt from you, and I will clothe you with splendid robes.” Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So a clean turban was placed on his head, and they clothed him in garments while the Angel of the Lord was standing nearby. (Zechariah 3:1–5, HCSB)

This message was given to Zechariah while the Jews were still in exile. The 70 year exile was a punishment earned, in part, by failures in the leadership, the priests in particular. God is showing the steadfast love that he has to offer by defending Joshua before Satan, removing his quilt, and blessing him. Later he promises that this purifying is not just for Joshua, but he will “remove the iniquity of this land in a single day” (3:9). God does this not because of the goodness of Joshua or the people but for his own glory.

I am quick to neglect the beauty of God’s redemption. And I am quick to remember the times that I have failed. The Bible shows us over and over that God has removed, cleaned, and forgotten our sins, and we must now live in joy over this blessed, unearned Read More »

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Luther’s 95 Theses

October 31 is Reformation Day, marking the day on which Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses against the selling of indulgences on the church doors in 1517 in Wittenberg, Germany. Though there are many things that paved the way to this rather inauspicious moment, it historically marks the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

It’s encouraging to see the pastoral nature of Luther’s 95 Theses. Many of his points reflect the need for believers to live with true repentance, care for the poor, and for pastors to guard the pulpit from false teaching. He also speaks strongly against the unbiblical policies coming from the Pope in Rome.

The heart of the Reformation was about salvation. Are we justified before God through our own actions and the policies of the church or does justification come by grace alone through faith alone? I am thankful for Martin Luther. And I am thankful that I am made right with God through no effort of my own.

Below is a restating of Luther’s 95 Theses which were intended spark discussion in the fall of 1517. I’ve marked the ones that stick out to me in bold.

1. When Jesus said “repent” he meant that believers should live a whole life repenting

2. Only God can give salvation – not a priest.

3. Inwards penitence must be accompanied with a suitable change in lifestyle.

4. Sin will always remain until we enter Heaven.

5. The pope must act according to canon law.

6. Only God can forgive -the pope can only reassure people that God will do this.

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