The sound of a hammer heard around the world.
OCTOBER 23, 2023
The sound of a hammer heard around the world. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
This is Key Life, here to let you know that because of what Jesus has done, God will never be angry at you again. This week Steve has invited Pete Alwinson and Justin Holcomb to teach, Pete is an author and former pastor, and Justin serves as Bishop to the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida.
Thank you Matthew. Hope you guys had a great week-end and I hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. We’re going to do something a little bit different this week and it’s going to be fun. I’ve never had somebody working for Key Life who was a Bishop, but I do now. Justin Holcomb is the Bishop of the Central Florida Diocese of the Episcopal Church. And since he has been installed, I found myself kneeling in front of him and kissing his ring. Actually, Justin and I go back a long time and he’s been involved with Key Life for a long time. And I asked him to join us. And then my close friend Pete that you hear every Friday and you have for the last 25 years, he’s here too. And he’s the head of FORGE. Go to ForgeTruth.com and I said, Pete, you come in too, and we’re going to do something different this week. You know why? Because this Sunday is Reformation Sunday. On October the 31st, 1517, Martin Luther marched up to the church door at Wittenberg and hammered up a document called the 95 Theses. By the way, I have a copy of that hanging in my family room at home. And most of it is kind of boring. It’s not what you think it is, most people think it was an obscene gesture, but it wasn’t. It was a very thoughtful treatise. But it started something that was big and changed the world called the Reformation. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to talk about the five solas, the alone things. And this is the statement that reformed people talk about.
Christians are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone, for God’s glory alone.
That’s the outline for this week, and we’ll get into it after we pray. Pete and I talked about it, and we decided the bishop ought to pray. So, you pray first, and then we’ll get to this.
Justin Holcomb: Let’s pray. Holy and gracious Father, we thank you that you’re both. And because of that, we thank you that you have sent your Son to deal with the reality of your holiness and our sin. but also graciously to love us and to forgive us of our sins, declare us righteous and promise us new life. So, please fill us with your Holy Spirit, so we talk about the Scriptures that you have given us in your Son that you have sent clearly and truthfully. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Ephesians 2:8 and 9 is the normal place to go, when you’re talking about grace.
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.
One of the solas is that we are saved by grace alone. You guys think we keep adding stuff to it?
Justin Holcomb: All the time. Hey, just so people feel smarter is Sola Gratia.
Justin Holcomb: So, this way they go away and they think, they get to go to all their friends and go to a Bible study, go to church and start talking Latin. It’s the Latin slogan for saved by God’s grace alone. And the question you asked is, do we add to it? Yes, that’s the entire problem. We’re always trying to, well, the problem is, is that by nature, before the fall, we were great, we were fine, we were obedient, Adam and Eve were doing just fine, and then they fell, and because of that, we inherited Adam’s nature, the sinful nature. And we can’t do anything by merit. And so, we need God’s undeserved favor to fix our situation that we don’t bring anything to the tables by Christ’s merits alone, not ours, but to answer your question. Yes, the human heart is always, we don’t like being charity cases.
Justin Holcomb: And so, we find some reason either my intentionality, my good works, my intent, anything, anything to point to anything except for God’s grace alone.
Oh, that’s so true. And it’s so radical.
It is radical and I think that’s the deal when we think of Martin Luther. It was so radical in his day that he focused upon that, that it was grace and not. And that’s why he was called a wild boar in the vineyard. He was messing things up for the Catholic church and in trying to bring reform and newness. And many went along with him and saw it.
Oh, they really did. And it changed the world. It changed the Roman Catholic Church too, by the way. It wasn’t just us it changed. It was a major movement that swept around the world. Somebody came to Luther one time and said, don’t we bring, at your comment, Justin, you know, we don’t want to owe and be a charity case. They said to Martin Luther, don’t we bring anything? He said, Oh, I must have misspoken, of course we bring something. We bring our sins. And it’s that radical, isn’t it? No matter what you do, God won’t love you any less. And God won’t love you anymore, because his grace is sufficient, and it’s alone.
Justin Holcomb: And the focus of that sola, and of Ephesians 2, the passage you read, is, yeah, we do bring to the table, it’s the great exchange. We hand God our sin. And he hands us Christ’s righteousness. But kind of behind all of that, the real focus of saved by God’s grace alone is on the God toward human movement. It’s about God moving toward us. God wanting to reconcile with us. I’m thinking of that passage in Matthew 18 about forgiveness. And in the parable about the unforgiving servant, there’s a line in there that’s blown my mind, which is.
The master wanting to reconcile with his servants.
That’s just God’s heart. He wants to reconcile, the whole point of grace alone that God wants to reconcile with you. Not because he’s not looking around to see who’s worthy of his attention. He’s just distributing it like gratuitously all over the place and that freaks people out.
It really does and that’s the key thing. The good news of grace is God’s great love for us, right? So, grace and love are hand in hand, one flows into the other and so when men understand that God loves them, and particularly with men. I think women want love a lot, men, men want to earn stuff. So, I think for church, a lot of us as men, we just, we go, cause we want to get God’s favor. But that he really loves us and deep down, that’s what we want. We want a father that accepts us and blesses us and cares for us.
You know, I’m working on a book now called The Lies That Christians Believe. And it’s been kind of fun, except it’s been convicting, too. You know, I keep speaking about radical grace because I know that people, men and women, want to earn it. They don’t want to be, as you said, a charity case. But then, as I work on that and think about it, I don’t either. You know, the three of us are quite religious, and you’re a Bishop, Justin. And, you know, you’ve been a pastor for enough years to get into heaven without grace. I mean, we’re religious, we’ve worked hard at this and it doesn’t mean anything. That’s awful. I tell Jesus, I wouldn’t do this for anybody but you, and I expect some, at least, points for having done this. I could have made more money doing something else. And I, the sleepless nights, and they’re your people, and they’re a bunch of crazy people sometimes, and I did that. Don’t I get something for it? Not one thing, and that drives me nuts.
Justin Holcomb: And you read that passage from Ephesians 2, and that’s about the grace of God because of faith in Christ. And so, we’ll get to the faith part later because the faith is that we actually have faith. The grace is about God and God’s desire and God’s disposition toward us in Christ. Calvin talks about, in his definition on faith, he says.
Faith is the sure and certain knowledge that God’s will is to be benevolent toward us in Christ.
Like, the posture of benevolence. Calvin later on talks about God’s generous fatherly liberality. And he describes God as this dad whose kids have him wrapped around his finger. He just wants to dote on his children, not the Calvin most people think about because they haven’t, no one’s read Calvin, they just criticize him. But you read him, you’re like, wait a second, this guy is amazing. So, but the, the posture of God cause we’re all walking around. I do it all the time. I have a great father who loves me unconditionally. And going back to your point, Pete, that, you know, when you have unconditional love and grace worked into your heart, that will change a lot of things. But even then, the way sin creeps up, we live in a world of merit and earning. And so, to shift gears is so hard. And so, to know God’s disposition, I walk around, if something happens to me, I go straight to karma immediately. Our house flooded about seven years ago when we were on a trip, and the first thing that came to mind was I dropped below 10 percent in my tithe. And God, and I preach grace all the time. Like, that default mode is so scary.
And, if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, That’s crazy. You’ve got it. You’re saying that’s counterintuitive. You’ve got it. You’re saying nothing could be that good. You’ve got that too. Listen, it’s all grace, every bit of it. Try not to add to that. And you think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve and Pete and Justin. Wow, how cool is this lineup? And guess what? We are just getting started. So, be sure to stay with us as we journey through this reformation week, five days, five solas. It’s going to be amazing. Hey, here’s a question, how much can you love something without worshipping it? I mean, is that possible? Well, these questions are not academic. Recently on Steve Brown Etc. we spoke with author Paul D. Miller about the difference between patriotism and Christian nationalism. And explored how it’s possible to celebrate our country without worshipping it. The conversation was insightful, to say the very least. May we send you that episode on CD for free? If so, call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. To mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Again, just ask for your free copy of the CD featuring Paul D. Miller. And finally, if you value the work of Key Life, would you consider supporting that work through your giving? You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or you can now give safely and securely by text. Just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950. And hey, if you can’t give, don’t you worry. But if you think about it, pray for us, would you? Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.