10/31/2015 Jeff about 45
Today I was at Menards, talking about the Reformation of all things! The Bible says to be prepared to preach the word “in season and out of season” so before checking out I had initiated a good conversation with a man named Jeff, from the Philippines. Jeff is Catholic, but said there are also many Protestants in the Philippines and wondered about the differences between the two. Now, the aisles of a busy store aren’t the best place for a long history lesson, so on this anniversary day of the Protestant Reformation I decided to give Jeff just a little bit of history with some of the Gospel thrown in.
I told him that Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, read the Bible for himself and became convicted that the teachings of the Church too often contradicted the teachings of the Bible. He was especially outraged over the selling of “indulgences” as a way to get one’s relatives out of purgatory and into heaven, and is believed to have nailed a list of his complaints on a Wittenberg church door on October 31, 1517.
Just as we can’t pay for salvation now with our good works, or, as Jeff had assumed, by being a faithful church attender, neither could we expect to pay money for salvation. I avoided the many rabbit trails of smaller differences between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Bible, but said that when it comes to the Bible as God’s Word or the many contradictory church teachings and traditions that have developed over the years, we need to be faithful to follow the words of scripture.
Many people like Jeff view such differences between religions as being inconsequential because, if one’s idea of being a Christian is just being a “good person”, then these differences don’t matter much. Jeff told me about some Muslim coworkers at a dialysis center he works at. “I just try to be a good person in my religion, and let them be good people in theirs.” he said. If, however, what the Bible says is true, that we are saved by faith in Jesus alone and not by our good works, then we have people like Martin Luther to thank for taking a stand for this ancient and precious truth. Happy Reformation Day!