Calvinism/Arminianism, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ What is Reformation Day?

Originally published at
Satisfaction Through Christ
on October 10, 2014.

reformation day

The Protestant Reformation. Outside of Biblically recorded events and the closing of the canon of Scripture, it is arguably the most important event in church history, and one of the most important events in world history as well, yet many Christians today are unaware of this landmark incident in their heritage which birthed the Protestant church.

The year was 1517. A monk named Martin Luther gripped his hammer and nailed a list of biblical grievances against the Roman Catholic Church to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, much like we might post a notice to a community bulletin board today. These 95 Theses protested the Catholic Church’s unbiblical policy of selling indulgences,  part of an effort to raise funds for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Catholic Church had created the idea of the Treasury of Merit, sort of a “bank account” of merit deposited by Christ, Mary, the saints, and others as a result of their good works. When church members sinned, they could purchase an indulgence, which was akin to asking the Church to “transfer funds” from the Treasury of Merit to the sinner’s account. The indulgence basically excused the sinner from a certain amount of time in purgatory and/or temporal punishment for that sin.

In addition to protesting the sale of indulgences, Luther’s 95 Theses called the Catholic Church to conform to Scripture by abandoning its unbiblical practices and teachings regarding the doctrines of salvation, religious authority, the nature of the church, and the essence of Christian living.


Luther’s calls for reform spread quickly throughout Europe, inspiring the likes of church fathers Ulrich Zwingli (Zurich), John Calvin (Geneva), and John Knox (Scotland) to join the effort in their own locales. As they worked to address the issues raised in Luther’s document, these men codified what we know today as the “Five Solas of the Reformation,” the basis of Protestant church doctrine. The five solas are:

1. Sola ScripturaScripture alone is the basis for all church doctrine, belief, and practice. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

2. Sola Gratia– Salvation is by grace alone. It is an unmerited gift of God based solely on His goodness, not our own (because we don’t have any). (Ephesians 2:8-9)

3. Sola Fide– Salvation is through faith alone. Faith is a gift bestowed by God. We are saved only by placing that faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross, not by doing good works or by any other attempts to earn salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

4. Solus Christus– Salvation is found in Christ alone. As Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

5. Soli Deo Gloria– God saves man for God’s glory alone, and Believers are to live our lives to glorify Him alone. (Romans 11:36)

One of Luther’s most cherished ideals, from which we still benefit today, was that common people should have access to both the Scriptures and worship services in their own language. Prior to the Reformation, the Bible was only available in Latin. Likewise, all masses and other church services were conducted in Latin. Luther translated the Bible into German, and was later followed by William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, David Brainerd, and others who translated the Bible into various languages.

On Reformation Day, we commemorate the work, zeal, and sacrifices of Luther and the other reformers. Reformation Day is observed on October 31.

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Nehemiah 8

neh 8 6

Nehemiah 8

And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

13 On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. 14 And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. 18 And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. What were some of the events that led up to Nehemiah 8? Why would this “worship service” have been especially meaningful for the people?

2. Which phrase in verse 2, repeated in verse 3, show us God’s desire for all people to hear and understand His word? How does this phrase hint at the love God has for women and children?

3. Read verses 2-8 and describe the scene in your own words or make a sketch of what it might have looked like. Which elements of this worship service are similar to the elements of the services at your church today? Why are these elements important? Why do you think they have lasted until the present time?

4. Why were the people weeping (9)? Why were they told not to weep (10-11)? Were the spiritual leaders ignoring the people’s desire to repent? What was the Feast of Booths (14)? How was the recent return from exile (17) similar to the original event the Feast of Booths commemorated?

5. Two key words in this chapter are “understand” and “rejoice/joy.” How many times do you see these words mentioned? What does God want us to learn from this chapter about understanding His word and taking joy in His word and in obedience to it?

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Ezra 3

For further study on the book of Ezra, try my study, Ezra.

ezra 3 11

Ezra 3

When the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem. Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. And they kept the Feast of Booths, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the rule, as each day required, and after that the regular burnt offerings, the offerings at the new moon and at all the appointed feasts of the Lord, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid. So they gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the grant that they had from Cyrus king of Persia.

Now in the second year after their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their kinsmen, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity. They appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to supervise the work of the house of the Lord.And Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, and Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together supervised the workmen in the house of God, along with the sons of Henadad and the Levites, their sons and brothers.

10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

“For he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. The book of Ezra deals with the second wave (out of three) of Israelites returning from exile in Persia after the destruction of Jerusalem. Why was it important to them (3) to set up the altar? Why did they begin keeping the feasts and offering sacrifices before the temple was rebuilt?

2. What was the Feast of Booths (4), and which event in Israel’s history did it commemorate? What are some similarities between the Exodus and Israel’s recent return from exile which might have made this celebration of the Feast of Booths especially meaningful for the people? Which attributes of God are on display in both the Exodus and the return from exile?

3. Why would it have been important for the Levites (8) to supervise the work on the temple? How does this show the people’s reverence for God’s house and their desire to do things “decently and in order“?

4. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the average Israelite in verses 10-11. Think about what your experience in exile might have been like and how you might feel finally back, free, in your homeland. Now, the temple is at last being rebuilt so you can worship God – maybe for the first time in your life – in the place and the way He intended. What emotions might you be experiencing? What sorts of things might you be praising God for? Take some time to thank God for some specific things about your own church.

5. For what reasons might the old men have been weeping? (12-13) How could both tears and joy be proper expressions of worship in this passage and in worship today? What gives you joy in worship? What brings you to tears when you worship?

Doctrinally Sound Teachers

10 More Biblically Sound Blogs and Podcasts by Christian Women

10 blogs

This article has been updated and moved. You can now find it at:

Doctrinally Sound Christian Women to Follow – 2

Parenting, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ The 10 Commandments of Parenting- 6

Originally published March 30, 200810 Commandments Parenting6

Thou shalt teach thy children to pray.

“pray without ceasing;” I Thessalonians 5:17

When my kids were toddlers, I knew that there was no way they could wrap their little undeveloped brains around the abstract concept of God. It is certainly true, though, that God has made Himself evident within each of our hearts (Romans 1:19), because when the kids and I would pray together or talk about God, none of them ever once asked me who God was, even though they couldn’t see, hear, or touch Him. Teaching our kids to pray fans that little spark of knowing God into flame. Start from birth, and help them to make it a lifelong discipline.

I’m not a big fan of “Now I lay me down to sleep”, “God is great; God is good” and other memorized prayers. Assuming they’re biblically sound, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with them, and they do contain some spiritual truths, but in my own experience the more familiar, rote, and repetitious something is, the less meaningful it can become over time. I think it’s important to teach kids that prayer is a way of talking with God that should have meaning for our lives.

When we teach children to pray, they need to know that they don’t have to use “thee’s” and “thou’s” and a bunch of fancy language in order to be heard. There are millions of Christians all over the globe who wouldn’t know flowery speech if it smacked them upside the head, and yet God listens to them just the same.

It is also essential that we teach them that while God is indeed our friend, He is also holy, and must be addressed with reverence for that holiness. When we recognize His holiness in our prayers by acknowledging Him as Creator of all things in the universe, listing and proclaiming His attributes (such as goodness, mercy, justice, grace, love, forgiveness, etc.), and humbling ourselves before Him, it puts us in the right spiritual attitude for doing business with God.

Another vital distinction to make is that God is not Santa Claus. He’s not sitting up there waiting for our wish lists, granting them if we’ve been nice and denying them if we’ve been naughty. Kids are naturally self-centered, so it helps them to take their focus off self if we teach them to thank God for the things that they already have, to pray for others, and to confess their sins.

Jesus gave us a great example of how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13):

  • Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. We humble ourselves before God, recognizing His position and submitting to His sovereignty and authority.
  • Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. We intercede for ourselves as well as others. We ask that God’s will, not ours or anyone else’s, be done in each situation, and that He will receive the glory in every circumstance.
  • Give us this day our daily bread. We ask for God’s provision for our needs and recognize that it is only by His hand that we have anything.
  • And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. We confess and ask forgiveness for our sins. We ask God to help us forgive those who have sinned against us.
  • And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. We ask for God’s protection and the strength to obey Him and resist temptation.
  • For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. We again recognize God’s sovereignty, give Him glory, and leave all of our requests with Him to deal with as He sees fit.

Your 5 year old’s prayer, encompassing these areas, might look something like this:

Dear Lord,
Thank you for being good and loving. Thank you for my family and my dog. Thank you for making the park so I can play there. Thank you for the food we’ve eaten today, and please give us the food we need tomorrow. Please help my friend Jason to feel better and get over the flu. I’m sorry I hit my brother this morning. Please forgive me and help me to be kind to him. I love You.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Of course, he probably isn’t going to come up with all of that on his own. The best way to teach kids to pray is to pray with them. You might go first, praying a simple prayer, and then have him pray, or you might want to try what I call a “ping pong” prayer. You pray one sentence, and he prays the next, and so on, until you’re done. For example:

Mom: Dear Lord, thank you for being kind.
Kid: Thank you for being forgiving.
Mom: Please help the Jones family because they’re sad that their cat died.
Kid: Please take care of our missionaries in South America.

One of the ways we can teach our kids that God hears us when we pray is to keep track of His answers to our prayers. At our house, I was concerned that, while we were all praying together, the kids were not making the connection between their prayers and what God was doing in our lives. I decided a good way to help them make that connection would be to keep track of answered prayers as well as blessings we hadn’t thought to ask for, and other ways God was working in our family.

It was as simple as a trip to the dollar store. I bought a piece of posterboard and entitled it “What is God up to?” It now graces one wall of our breakfast room. Every time we have an answered prayer (even if the answer is no), an unexpected blessing, or an obvious move of God in our lives, I write it down on the poster. It has really helped the kids to see where God is moving. I can tell, because now they are the ones to remind me of an answer to prayer or something else that needs to go on the poster!

It has also helped them to learn that our prayers don’t just bounce off the ceiling. God does care for us. He does want to hear from us. We can bond with Him by spending time talking to Him. Those are priceless precepts for kids and parents alike.