Martin Luther - A Man of Courageous Faith

Steve Viars April 30, 2017 Joshua 1:1-9

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Genesis 6:14-18 - Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood…I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

Genesis 6:22 - Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.

Hebrews 11:8-10 - By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

1 Samuel 17:45-47 - Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”

Matthew 14:28-29 - Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Deuteronomy 31:1-8 - So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’ It is the Lord your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the Lord has spoken. The Lord will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. The Lord will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

3 elements of courage necessary to make a difference for God

I. Courageous Enough to Acknowledge Sin

A. For Joshua

Deuteronomy 9:4-5 - Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, “Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,” but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Joshua 7:6 - Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.

Joshua 7:10-11 - So the Lord said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.”

Joshua 7:19-20 - Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I did…”

B. For Martin Luther (1483-1546)

“St. Anne help me.  I will become a monk.”

“The head of the monastery, the ‘prior,’ stood upon the steps of the altar while Luther prostrated himself before him. The prior asked, ‘What seekest thou?’ to which the young novice replied, ‘God’s grace and thy mercy.’ The prior then raised him up and asked if he was married, a bondsman or afflicted with secret disease, to which Luther replied, ‘NO.’ The prior then described to him the rigors of the life he now entered; the renunciation of self-will, the scant diet, rough clothing, vigils by night and labors by day, the mortification of the flesh, the reproach of poverty, the shame of begging and the distasteful existence of life lived in the cloister.  Was he ready to take upon himself these burdens? ‘Yes, with God’s help and in so far as human frailty allows,’ and he was admitted to a year of probation. As the choir sang, his head was ‘tonsured’ his clothes were exchanged for the habit of a monk and he bowed. Over him the prior prayed, ‘Hear, O Lord, our heartfelt pleas and deign to confer thy blessing on this thy servant, whom in thy holy name we have clad in the habit of a monk, that he may continue with thy help faithful in thy church and merit eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1978), pp. 26-27

“At one point his exasperated superior, Father Staupitz exclaimed, ‘Brother Martin.  If you’re going to confess so much, why don’t you go do something worth confessing?  Kill your mother or father!  Commit adultery!  Quit coming in here with such flummery and fake sins!’ (Pasma, p. 9)

C. For you and me

1. Beginning at salvation

Matthew 5:3-4 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Romans 3:10 - …as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one…”

Romans 3:20 -        …because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

2. In the way we solve problems

Matthew 7:3 - Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Romans 7:19 - For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

3. In the way we embrace suffering

Romans 12:17-19 - Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

4. In the way we explain Christian growth

Romans 15:14 - And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

II. Courageous Enough to Clarify Your Beliefs

A. For Joshua

Joshua 1:7-8 - Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

B. For Martin Luther

Hebrews 10:11 - Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins…

1513-15 – Psalms

1515–16 – Romans

1516-17 – Galatians

1517-18 – Hebrews

Psalm 22:1 - My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.

Psalm 85:10 - Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

“Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that ‘the just shall live by his faith.’  Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith.  Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.  The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the ‘justice of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love.  This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven…If you have a true faith that Christ is your Saviour, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love.” (Bainton, pp. 49-50)

“I cry to thee in direst need.      O God, I beg thee hear me.  To my distress I pray give heed. O Father, draw thou near me. If thou shouldst wish to look upon the wrong and wickedness I’ve done, how could I stand before thee?  With thee is naught but untold grace ever more forgiving. We cannot stand before thy face, not by the best of living. No man boasting may draw near. All the living stand in fear Thy grace alone can save them. Therefore, in God I place my trust, my own claim denying. Believe in him alone I must, on his sole grace relying. He pledged to me his plighted word. My comfort is in what I heard.     There will I hold forever.” (Bainton, p. 271)

C. For you and me

2 Timothy 4:1-4 - I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

III. Courageous Enough to Stand for Truth

A. For Joshua

Joshua 24:15 - If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

B. For Martin Luther

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one's conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.”

C. For you and me

 

Outlined Manuscript

- Would you agree with me this am that often when God wishes to use a person in the accomplishment of His program large or small – one of the characteristics He supplies, and one of the characteristics He expects – is that of spiritual courage…

- God is pleased when people step out in faith and take Him at His Word…attempting things that will only come to pass if the Lord is who He says He is…

- for example, the Lord tells Noah in Genesis 6 – because the earth was filled with violence…and all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth…Genesis 6:14-18 - Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood…I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

- that would take faith…that would take courage…and the repeated phrase you see throughout that passage is this…Genesis 6:22 - Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.

- you could say the same thing about Abraham -- Hebrews 11:8–10 - By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

- taking that step of obedience required spiritual courage…

- we could say the same thing about David when he looked at that big giant Goliath…1 Samuel 17:45–47 - Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. “This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.”

- would it be fair to say that young David possessed a fair amount of spiritual courage?...

- And when you start to think about it – it’s amazing how often this issue comes up in Scripture…not just in the OT by the way – but the NT as well…

- Remember when the disciples saw Jesus walking on water…What did Peter say?...Hey – I wanna do that…Matthew 14:28–29 - Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

- yes its true that he took his eyes off Jesus and he started to sink…but at least he had the courage to get out of the boat, huh?...

- So the principle is clear -- often when God wishes to use a person in the accomplishment of His program large or small – one of the characteristics He supplies, and one of the characteristics He expects – is that of spiritual courage…God is pleased when people step out in faith and take Him at His Word…

- now, there’s probably another place in the Bible that has already come to your mind…because this particular characteristic is specifically and repeated mentioned…

- it’s when Moses is about to die…and Joshua has been chosen to lead the children into the promised land…and what is it that’s continually emphasized?...

- Deuteronomy 31:1–8 - So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’ “It is the Lord your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the Lord has spoken. “The Lord will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. “The Lord will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you. “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

- see, what is Joshua going to need to be used of God to accomplish this next phase of the Lord’s sovereign plan?...no doubt about that one huh?...he’s going to need to be strong and courageous…

- now, why am I raising this issue this am…it’s because that’s the way you could summarize one of the great leaders of the Protestant Reformation – Martin Luther – A Man of Courageous Faith.

- with that in mind, please open your Bible chapter 1…page 161 of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- our church’s theme this year is – In Christ Alone…because…this is the 500 anniversary of the Protestant Reformation…a crucial time in church history whose emphases could be summarized around the five great solas of the reformation…that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to the scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone…

- We started the year with a verse by verse exposition of the book of Colossians…now we’ve switched over to a study on The Messianic Psalms…

- but we explained at the beginning of the year that we were going to have some pit stops along the way…

- so if you’re brand new to all of this – these presentations are available on-line…

- but we had one Sunday that was just a general introduction to this important time in church history…

- then we did a historical presentation of two men you might call pre-reformers…John Wycliffe and John Hus…

- honestly it’s difficult to narrow the character sketches down to just three Sundays this year because there are so many men and women from which to choose…

- but there’s no question about this one – you couldn’t study the reformation without discussing the man we have before us today – the German monk Martin Luther…he truly was Martin Luther – A Man of Courageous Faith.

- now our plan this morning is to compare his life to Joshua in the OT…because they were similar in several very important ways…and ultimately great examples for you and me today…

- read Joshua 1:1-9

- so we’re talking about Martin Luther – A Man of Courageous Faith – and with the time we have remaining this am…let’s think about 3 elements of courage necessary to make a difference for God

I. Courageous Enough to Acknowledge Sin

A. For Joshua

- the reason the Canaanites were being driven out of the promised land was because of their sinful idolatrous ways…

- in other words, God was using His people as an instrument of judgment at this time in history…

- we read about that in places like…Deuteronomy 9:4–5 - Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

- but in order for them to be used that way -- that required them to courageously address sin in their midst…

- you may recall that not far into the book of Joshua, the children of Israel achieve a great military victory against the city of Jericho…and then they go up against a much smaller force at Ai and they’re defeated…

- and you may remember what happens next… Joshua 7:6 - Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.

- a few verses later -- Joshua 7:10–11 - So the Lord said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? “Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.

- so the same Joshua who previously had courageously led the people into battle has to now courageously lead them in dealing with sin in their midst…and when it is determined that a man named Achan and his family have violated God’s Word regarding the plunder of Jericho…he says -- Joshua 7:19–20 - Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” So Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I did…

- that’s one of the elements necessary to make a difference for God…being courageous enough to acknowledge sin…

- this is a key aspect of understanding the life of…

B. For Martin Luther (1483-1546)

- Luther’s father owned a small mining business and wanted his son become a lawyer because in his way of thinking that would be financially beneficial to the family and ultimately to he and his wife as Luther supported them in their old age…

- that’s why it was so scandalous when Luther had a life-changing experience in 1505 when he was traveling by horseback during a thunderstorm and a bolt of lightning struck the ground next to him – throwing him off his horse…

- so he reportedly screamed out – “St. Anne (the patron saint of miners) help me.  I will become a monk.”

- and sure enough, to the shock and dismay of his friends and family and especially his father…he entered the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. 

- Historian Roland Bainton, in his book Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1978), pp. 26-27 describes what happened…

- The head of the monastery, the “prior,” stood upon the steps of the altar while Luther prostrated himself before him. The prior asked, “What seekest thou?” to which the young novice replied, “God’s grace and thy mercy.” The prior then raised him up and asked if he was married, a bondsman or afflicted with secret disease, to which Luther replied, “NO.” The prior then described to him the rigors of the life he now entered; the renunciation of self-will, the scant diet, rough clothing, vigils by night and labors by day, the mortification of the flesh, the reproach of poverty, the shame of begging and the distasteful existence of life lived in the cloister.  Was he ready to take upon himself these burdens? and the answer was, “Yes, with God’s help and in so far as human frailty allows,” and he was admitted to a year of probation. As the choir sang, his head was “tonsured” (shaved so that his identity as a monk was easily recognized), his clothes were exchanged for the habit of a monk and he bowed. Over him the prior prayed, “Hear, O Lord, our heartfelt pleas and deign to confer thy blessing on this thy servant, whom in thy holy name we have clad in the habit of a monk, that he may continue with thy help faithful in thy church and merit eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”

- what you see in that, as my friend Pastor Tim Pasma points out is – there’s no grace…no declaration of God’s full and complete forgiveness through Christ – or corresponding declaration of Christ’s righteousness being placed on his account and his salvation being fully secured by the merits of Christ and therefore a place in heaven and peace with God…

- and so it began a road of agony and even hatred of God because of His holiness (His righteous stand…)

- He began to go to his superior to confess his sins, sometimes taking as much as six hours a day in the confessional.

- Only confessed sins could be forgiven so he would ransack his memory, probe his motives, think of every little sin he had committed.

- After hours in the confessional he would leave and then return a few minutes later because he remembered some foible he had forgotten.

- At one point his exasperated superior, Father Staupitz exclaimed, “Brother Martin.  If you’re going to confess so much, why don’t you go do something worth confessing?  Kill your mother or father!  Commit adultery!  Quit coming in here with such flummery and fake sins!” (Pasma, p. 9)

- now, there are a lot of ways we could respond to that – but can we at least say this – at least he was willing to be honest about his sinful condition…it takes courage to admit that you fall short of God’s glory and standard of perfect righteousness even if you don’t know what to do to remedy the situation…

- and I would suggest this is the first lesson that flows out of the life of both Joshua and Martin Luther…they were courageous enough to address sin…

- how does that impact people like you and me?...

C. For you and me

1. Beginning at salvation

- in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the first two beatitudes are:

- Matthew 5:3–4 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

- it’s impossible to come to Christ in repentance and faith apart from a profound sorrow over ones sin…especially in this culture, that takes courage…

- that’s why Paul explained in Romans 3…

- Romans 3:10 - as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one;

- Romans 3:20 -                because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

- friends – that is a double indictment – we are all guilty, and we cannot rid ourselves  that guilt by an effort to observe God’s law…

- it takes courage to face the enormity of our sin…

2. In the way we solve problems

- Matthew 7:3 - Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

- Romans 7:19 - For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.

- acknowleding truths like that – especially in a time of conflict – takes courage

3. In the way we embrace suffering

- we don’t believe that every problem is the direct result of an individual’s sin…

- but nor do we believe that when we being sinned against or suffering as a result of living in a sin-cursed world – that we’re absolved from responsibility…

- in other words – we’re not passive victims…

- Romans 12:17–19 - Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

4. In the way we explain Christian growth

- we’re not afraid to discuss our ongoing struggle with sin as we seek to become all that God desires…even in the way we help one another grow…

- Romans 15:14 - And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

- we want to be the kind of people who talk openly and authentically about our failures…

II. Courageous Enough to Clarify Your Beliefs

- the Lord never intended for us to wallow in our sins…be honest, yes – but then dive into His Word for biblical answers…

A. For Joshua

- Joshua 1:7–8 - Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

- baseless courage is just bluster and bravado…the more you hope and pray to accomplish for the Lord, the more important it is that your foundation be sound and sure and deep and comprehensive and robust…

- and thankfully, that’s what happened for Martin Luther…

B. For Martin Luther

- it would have been such a shame if he had just languished in the monastery…like the priests of Hebrews 10:11 - Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;

- but this is where the story becomes delightful…

- because Luther’s supervisor Father Staupitz sent him to Wittenberg to become Professor of Bible at the University of Wittenberg

- you can start to get a feel for what happened if you look at Luther’s teaching schedule…

- 1513-15 – Psalms

- 1515–16 – Romans

- 1516-17 – Galatians

- 1517-18 – Hebrews

- one Psalm that especially stood out to him was Psalm 22:1 - My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.

- Luther said – that’s how I felt…alienated from God…but because of my sin and endless shortcomings…

- but why would the Messiah…prophesied in this Messianic Psalm…experience that kind of alienation…because He would never sin?...

- so the concept of the substitutionary atonement began to dawn in Luther’s heart…

- perhaps God was not simply a God of righteousness, but also a God of…grace…

- Think about a passage like Psalm 85:10 - Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

- Luther had been really strong on the truth and righteousness part – it’s how that is wedded with lovingkindness and peace in the Person and work of Christ that he was just beginning to understand…

- and we could hit the timeout button for a minute and say – a number of people at our church have a similar story…several have communicated to me this year – that you understand exactly why this emphasis on the reformation is so important…

- because you came out of a religious system where it seemed to be all about working harder and harder to try to satisfy God, and then constantly living in shame and guilt because you never measured up, and then having to go confess your sins through some human mediator…and it was absolutely exhausting…

- back to Luther – the real breakthrough came when he began studying and lecturing on the book of Romans…

- Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by his faith.”  Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith.  Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.  The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love.  This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven . . . .

If you have a true faith that Christ is your Saviour, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love (Bainton, pp. 49-50).

- see, he finally understood that the righteousness of God is not simply a standard to be attained…but a positionally gift provided for Him fully and completely when He trusted Christ as Savior and Lord…

- you may know that Martin Luther wrote many hymns…like A Mighty Fortress is Our God for example…but he also wrote ones that probably many of us have never heard…but often emphasizing grace…

- I cry to thee in direst need.

                O God, I beg thee hear me.

To my distress I pray give heed.

                O Father, draw thou near me.

If thou shouldst wish to look upon

The wrong and wickedness I’ve done,

                How could I stand before thee?

With thee is naught but untold grace

                Evermore forgiving.

We cannot stand before thy face,

                Not by the best of living.

No man boasting may draw near.

All the living stand in fear

                Thy grace alone can save them.

Therefore, in God I place my trust,

                My own claim denying.

Believe in him alone I must,

                On his sole grace relying.

He pledged to me his plighted word.

My comfort is in what I heard.

                There will I hold forever.

(Bainton, p. 271).

C. For you and me

- this is why the study of God’s Word and sound theology is so crucial for followers of Jesus Christ…

- and I recognize that the church growth experts are saying that you have to have entertainment in church…and you have to keep it moving…and we need to ditch the sermons, or if you have to have one – keep it 12 minutes or less or whatever…

- we don’t believe that… 2 Timothy 4:1–4 - I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

- [could develop the importance of small group Bible studies, etc – and also thank the church family for their desire and willingness to listen to Scripture)

III. Courageous Enough to Stand for Truth

- the more convinced you are of the strength of your foundation…the more likely you are to courageously take a stand…

A. For Joshua

- Joshua 24:15 - If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

B. For Martin Luther

- Luther was also a pastor…and the more he came to understand that salvation was by grace alone – the more outraged he became about the church’s approach to selling indulgences in order to free a person from purgatory…

- the church taught that it custody of the Treasury of Merits…secured by the great saints who did more than enough to earn their way to heaven…

- so that excess merit could be purchased by anyone deficient is righteousness…not just for yourself but for a loved one…

- [develop – woman in our church whose mother purchased a chair for her husband for $500 so he had a place to sit in purgatory….]

- and so Luther began lecturing about this – and then eventually nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Chapel challenging church leaders to debate these matters…in many ways, that act around October 31st, 1517 lit the fire that became the Protestant Reformation…because of the courageous, biblical stance of a transformed follower of Christ…

- eventually Luther was tried for heresy and urged to recant his teaching…and after a day to consider he said…

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one's conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.

C. For you and me

- I believe the Lord is greatly honored by men and women who look for opportunities big and small to take a gracious but clear stand for the good news of Jesus Christ…

- like one of our high schoolers at a local public school who has an opportunity to give a persuasive speech in his High School speech class…

- and has chosen to tell his classmates about why it’s logical and sound to believe the world was created by God…

- sure he could keep his head down – and talk about something that would be safer and more politically correct…

- that’s courageous faith…

- or students and staff and faculty at Purdue and Ivy Tech…who look for opportunities o be a witness for Christ on the college campus [cf. recent conversation – not sure how much longer you’ll be able to be a Christian and work at a university…]

- cf. upcoming youth ministries this summer…(update from Pastor Johnny)…

- “June 1-10 we will be having our local serving trip. Things we will be doing these 10 days include a Habit for humanity house build, building picnic tables for the community park, and several other neighborhood landscaping and hard work projects in the north end. We will also be holding 6 VBS in strategic neighborhoods (Point West, Vinton, Upper Lincoln, Lower Lincoln, Hanna, and at the Lara Center. 

- June 26 - July 11 we will be in Albania doing community ministry with Matt and Genci as well as running a week long camp for unbelievers (last year over 90% of the campers were unbelievers).

- We will also be holding 8 different block parties in the key north end neighborhoods we are trying to reach with the church plant.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video