This may seem far from Kingdom teaching, but stay with me, as I believe this is something we all need to know in terms of the Kingdom and the church today.
Briefly, Martin Luther was a highly educated man who felt called by God to be a priest in the Catholic church, so he began as a monk in an Augustine monastery. As he continued in his religious studies and began to read translations of the original Biblical text, he became more and more disturbed at the stark difference between them and what the Catholic church taught. He finally reached the point of feeling compelled to write 95 key statements pertaining to the doctrines of the Catholic church vs the original Biblical texts.
The key points of the Ninety-five theses was:
Salvation was only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and not by any good work or money.
Absolution from sin only comes through Jesus Christ by the believer's repentance and cannot be bought. At that time, the Catholic church had taken to selling "indulgences" and by purchasing that you were absolved of your sin. They said they were using the money to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica. Martin Luther said, "Why does not the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?" Does that sound any different from today?
The Pope had no power to get people out of purgatory. It also allowed you to "buy" your dead loved ones passage out of purgatory. He also challenged the very idea of purgatory.
His Ninety-five theses was published on October 31, 1517. Even though it was written to start a dialog with the church, they wanted no discussion and labeled Luther a heretic and it ultimately started the Protestant denomination. He wanted reformation, but got a revolution. October 31st became Reformation day, until that day much later on was taken over by the demonic Halloween day. Interesting how Satan works to cover up what God's doing!
This October 31st, it will be the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther's revolutionary theses. He did, exactly what it says in Habakkuk: Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Habbakuk 2:2-3
Hear me and hear what I believe God is saying. It is time for a new reformation. The church is drifting too far from the Gospel that Jesus taught. The church is drifting too far from the intent of what it is to be THE church. As with Martin Luther, we only ask for the things in the church that are not Biblical and Godly to be evaluated and changed. Everything that is being done in the church today should be held up to the Gospel and unbiasedly kept, changed or removed. That includes:
The way we worship (it was never meant to be self-focused, entertainment or worldly)
The way we preach (again it was never meant to be entertainment or a substitute for consuming God's Word on your own)
The way we look at money (the church and their leadership should not be accumulating wealth and property while many of their congregation live in poverty. Saying they lack faith or haven't given enough is manipulative and callus)
The way we idolize the pastors and worship leaders. (They are to serve, as Jesus did. We are to have no other gods--idols--before our Lord God.)
The practice of looking the other way when church leadership lives in unrepentant sin and iniquity, merely because asking them to step down would be inconvenient and possibly financially costly.
True citizens of the Kingdom of God are called to be THE church. Martin Luther only wanted to dialog and reform the Catholic church but their hearts were too hard-cast in religion to even listen. They were angry and did all they could to destroy Martin Luther. He was labeled a heretic and excommunicated from the very church he sought to change to be more like the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When he was being excommunicated, he was asked to renounce his theses and burn it. Here is his response: "I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen."
Oh for the church of today, 500 years later, to be reformed again! It has drifted far from the Gospel of the Kingdom. But, as in Luther's day, if its heart is hard-cast in religion and only seeks to renounce or dilute the Kingdom Gospel, then a new church will rise from the rubble of religion. Reformation is coming, with or without the church of today.
Over a decade ago, the Holy Spirit gave me a dream that now resonates with this message. I was in a crumbling church with a small group of people. There was garbage and fallen plaster everywhere. There were holes in the walls and the air was thick with dirt. I was so sad and mournful as I surveyed the state of the church. Then God spoke and said "You are not here to mourn, you are here to rebuild". The weight of that decree was overwhelming, because of the amount of work it looked to entail.
I wasn't alone in that building and I am not alone now. If you have stayed with this article, though longer than usual, you are there too. You are also being called to this process of reforming church as we know it. I don't have the answers, but God does. It is time to be very sensitive to how the Holy Spirit is directing you, don't be ahead or behind His leading. Don't worry that some may label you a heretic. I have no problem being labeled a heretic by religion, as long as I am in line with the Gospel of the Kingdom that the Lord Jesus taught!
Stand strong on God's Word,
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