Know Scripture. Know Salvation.


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Less than two years before its 500th anniversary, we remember the nailing of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses (actually titled “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”)[1] on the door of Wittenberg Castle Church on October 31, 1517. 

The Ninety-five Theses or “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences.” Image credit
It was a protest against the selling of the papal indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Leo X authorized the selling of the indulgences to raise funds for the Basilica.
Luther objected to the fact that the Roman Catholic Church was offering to sell certificates of forgiveness, and that by doing so it was substituting a false hope (that forgiveness can be earned or purchased) for the true hope of the gospel (that we receive forgiveness solely via the riches of God’s grace). The Roman Catholic Church claimed it had been placed in charge of a “treasury of merits” of all of the good deeds that saints had done (not to mention the deeds of Christ, who made the treasury infinitely deep). For those trapped by their own sinfulness, the church could write a certificate transferring to the sinner some of the merits of the saints. The catch? These “indulgences” had a price tag. [2]
Luther intended that “academic document” to spark a “scholarly debate.”[3] “That fact combined with the intended audience and largely academic tone of the writing indicates Luther didn’t write the document for mass consumption.”[4] But it ended up igniting the Protestant Reformation.
So what made this document so controversial? Luther’s Ninety-five Theses hit a nerve in the depths of the authority structure of the medieval church. Luther was calling the pope and those in power to repent—on no authority but the convictions he’d gained from Scripture—and urged the leaders of the indulgences movement to direct their gaze to Christ, the only one able to pay the penalty due for sin. [5]
The Scripture and salvation. Those words drove Luther’s passion. Until now, those are our issues as Evangelical Christians with the Catholic Church. The issue of Scripture is about “the source of religious truth for the people of God.”[6] The issue of salvation is about “how a man is made right with God”.[7] Simply put, our issues are how to know what’s right and how to be made right. 

To know the Scripture is to know salvation. To be ignorant of the Scripture is to be ignorant of salvation. 


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That’s why, like Paul, we should declare, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)[8] The Scripture and salvation are interconnected. The apostle Paul wrote on 2 Timothy 3:15-17
and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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. (Emphasis added) 
Yes, God gave the Bible not just to increase our knowledge but to change our lives. But doctrine leads to devotion. As a pastor-teacher, it’s my burning passion that all of us would know what and why we believe. Thus, I want a strong pulpit so that we would become a strong people. 

Brothers and sisters, like Luther, let us affirm the truth!

[1] Justin Holcomb (October 31, 2014), “Luther’s Ninety-five Theses: What You May Not Know and Why They Matter Today,” The Gospel Coalition, retrieved from http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/. Emphasis added.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid. Emphasis added.

[6] Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, “What Do We Mean by Sola Scriptura?” in Sola Scriptura! The Protestant Position on the Bible, general editor Don Kistler (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995), 1.

[7] Ibid.

[8] All Bible verses are from the English Standard Version.

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