In the prior post, we noted that this is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, an event that began when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany. The debate that arose out of this action culminated in what is now called the Protestant Reformation.
One of the primary teachings of the Reformation is that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Good works do not constitute any basis for our right standing before God; rather, our good works are the result of and the witness to our faith in Christ. Ephesians 2:8-10.
Justification is a legal term referencing God’s declaration that we are not guilty, that we are forgiven of our sin, and that we have righteousness provided through Christ’s sacrifice for our sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21.
In other words, the Reformation’s clarion call is that the just shall live by faith alone, and that faith must be in Christ alone.
Once we are justified, through faith in Christ, we are to live a Christ-centered life in thankfulness for all that He has done for us and for the Holy Spirit’s presence within us. Paul says we are new creatures when we have yielded our lives to Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17.
Elaborating on this statement, Paul says in Ephesians 4:22-24 that we are to:
“put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
What would this look like? Remember the butterfly?
After the butterfly emerges from the cocoon, it not only can fly into the heavens, it must fly to live a healthy, fulfilled life. They must migrate to other locations, ultimately returning to their place of origin. But we are not talking going around the block; oh no, we are talking long distances!
The flight of the butterflies is the longest known distance insect migration on Earth – and it’s been occurring for thousands of years. Monarchs sense certain topographical features, avoiding both large bodies of water and tall mountains. Instead, they choose cool valley passes between mountains.
Several migration routes in central southern Canada lead down through the central U.S. Several others start in western North America and merge with central ones. The majority of Monarchs who survive obstacles and predators manage to thread a geographical needle, hitting a 50-mile wide gap of cool river valleys between Eagle Pass, Texas, and Del Rio, Texas, and then wind their way to a dozen specific high mountain peaks in central Mexico where they roost. After resting there for several months, the same generation returns north to Texas and other parts of the southern United States, where the females lay hundreds of eggs. …
Of course the question automatically pops into your head – How does the butterfly know where to go when they migrate such a long distance and end the trip on a mountain top to which they have never been. Scientists believe that they now have an answer:
[Scientists] felt confident that they could prove that it was a combination of brain signals sent from the Monarch’s complex compound eyes and antennae that allowed them to track the position of the sun and the time of day (“like an internal GPS”) to navigate during their migration.
Monarchs have specialized body parts to help it navigate and migrate long distances. They orient themselves both in longitude and latitude, a unique ability, and can travel up to a mile high.
To conserve energy, Monarchs ride along prevailing winds and catch rising thermal waves, helping them travel great distances in a single day. They hide from the rain and will die if exposed to freezing temperatures and ice storms
[Information from http://www.flightofthebutterflies.com/epic-migrations]
Notice that? The butterfly has been given specialized body part to enable it to migrate such long distances. And, the butterfly is so strong that it can travel hundreds of miles, even going a mile high, but rain or ice will kill it.
Likewise, once we emerge from the stranglehold of sin through faith in Christ, we too have been given equipment to enable us to walk the pilgrim passageway in strength and confidence. Read Ephesians 6 to identify all the armor available to us. We are strong in the Lord, but we are not impervious to peril. Sin can attack and derail our efforts. We must persevere and keep looking to our Lord as we live in this world.
Putting off the old sinful self is hard – it takes struggle and dedication to Christ to accomplish it, even for a moment. But God’s grace and mercy is always sufficient for our struggle because it is His plan to renew us in the likeness of His Son, our Lord.
Praise God that 500 years ago men were ready to stand up for the Gospel so we would learn that salvation comes through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Thank you, Father, for the provision and protection of your Word and for the work of Martin Luther and other saints of the church who suffered greatly for their proclamation that justification is a matter of faith in Christ alone. And beautiful butterfly, a daily illustration that difficulties are for a time, and that the end result is worth the struggle as we are growing in the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ.