Post Tenebras Lux

There are some moments in history that seem to stand out among the rest. In fact, we set aside particular days in order to remember various historical events. Holidays such as Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day are intended to focus our attention on those past events that have shaped our present reality. A day that has become increasingly significant to me as I view the vast scope of world history is October 31st, 1517, what we now refer to as Reformation Day.

As a Christian, I find the time period of the Protestant Reformation to be particularly intriguing. Not because I believe the Reformers came up with new ideas or forged new territory, making progressive leaps into the unknown. Rather, the strength of the Reformation was in pointing people back, not to a time or system, but to Jesus Christ. The Reformers desire was not to start a new church or type of religious insurrection, but to see the church and her leaders move back to the Bible, back to what God has said, not what men and their traditions have said.

As we take a closer look at some of the issues that the Reformers were dealing with, we will see that they were not simply matters of church politics but were issues that touched to the very heart of the Gospel. “How can a sinful person be made right with a holy God?” Reformers struggled with. questions like these, to which they found no satisfying answers within the traditions of the Roman church.

However, when the Reformers, guided by the Holy Spirit, opened their Bibles, everything began to change. The truth of the Word of God that had been kept from the average person, that had been locked up in Latin and forbidden to be translated into the common tongue, began to burst forth into the hearts and minds of the Reformers and overflow into society as a whole. The impetus, then, for the Protestant Reformation, was not political or economical, but Biblical.

The dark times of Biblical ignorance was coming to an end, as the Reformers diligently taught the Bible, translated the Bible, and made sure the average person understood the Bible. Post Tenebras Lux — after darkness, light. This brief Latin phrase became a battle cry as John Calvin and other Reformers saw the glorious Word of God shine forth, and breaking the darkness of the false Gospel and doctrines of Rome. The chains of religious bondage that held people down, the rule of the papacy that contradicted Jesus Christ, and the selling of indulgences that cheapened the Gospel of grace were all seen for what they were in the light of God’s holy, inspired Word, the Bible.

We are now separated from the beginnings of the Reformation by over 500 years. However, that does not mean the Reformation is over. In fact, the cause of the Reformers, and the need for the light of God’s Word to go forth, is stronger than ever. We live in a world that is increasingly hostile to truth, a world of spiritual apathy; where religious bondage increases, sin is glorified, and hope is elusive. What is the answer? While many may jump into a political, social, or economical tirade, the answer is that we need “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4) to break out into the dark corners of our world. We need the Bible to be heralded as the banner of truth. We need to pray that God’s grace would extend to the hearts of those who are trapped in religious bondage. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit would draw to Himself those stuck in addiction and sinful life patterns that they may be convicted of their sin and see their need of the Savior.

No, the Reformation is NOT over. In fact, the Reformation will not end until Christ comes again. Until that day, we must be constantly reforming every aspect of our lives to the revealed Word of God, the Bible. So open your Bible today and hear the Words of your Creator. If you find yourself in darkness, open the words that bring light. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

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By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ

The Times They Are A-Changin’

You may remember the popular Bob Dylan tune, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” The song rings with truth today just as it did in 1964 when it was first released. Popular culture is constantly changing. Sometimes the change is for the better, while other times, for the worse. However, our perspective on change has much do with our individual world-views. 

From a Christian world-view, many changes in our culture over the past 15 years or so have caught us off guard. Why? Because there are many things that, in times past, seemed so foundational to the human experience that are now being put to the test. For instance, a brief perusal of current news outlets shows questions we once all knew the answer to, but now… not so much. Questions like, “What is the family?”, “What is marriage?”, or “What is male and female?” At one time, a simple answer would suffice. However, many people now disagree with these simple answers.

How do we respond to this current landscape filled with many opposing views? Let me start by stating what I think we should not do. We should not use our disagreements as an excuse to destroy one another. All too often, various groups on either side of the political and ideological aisle have forgotten basic human kindness when wrestling through current topics. This is to our shame. When did we become so hateful? Now, let me be clear what I mean when I use the word “hateful”. The word hateful cannot be used to describe someone who simply has an opposing view to yours. Our culture has fostered such self-centeredness that many people believe people with a different view are “mean, bigoted, and hateful.” No, hateful is when we disagree with an idea and then hurl personal insults, slandering another person with the intention of tearing them down. 

So, what should we do? King David asks the same question in Psalm 11. “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” As Christians, we see so many things that are foundational, things God instituted for the good and flourishing of mankind, being changed.

I believe there are 3 things we should keep in mind as we address current these. 

1) We should listen. 
Are we truly listening to those with whom we disagree? We need to be more intentional to listen and come to understand them even if we remain opposed to their ideas. 

2) We should love. 
As followers of Christ we are called to be known for our love; whether our neighbor or enemy, Jesus calls us to love. Those with whom we disagree remain image bearers of God and have inherent worth and value. Let us disagree in a way that shows this. 

3) We should proclaim the Gospel. 
Our political aspirations or humanitarian efforts are futile if we are not preaching the Gospel. We must remember that our only hope for change is through Christ.

“As the present now will later be past, the order is rapidly fadin’. And the first one now will later be last, for the times they are a-changin’.” -Bob Dylan

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ

Has God Forgotten Me?

 “God must not care about me. He must be punishing me. I just can’t go on.” Do these phrases ever come from your lips? Does the feeling of utter hopelessness seem to take over your thoughts, permeating throughout your entire body as you wonder if life is worth living anymore? Do you cry out to God pleading for His help and yet the answers never seem to come? You are not alone. But you might feel alone. The Bible is replete with instances of God’s people in distress asking for help, looking for answers.

Psalm 13 is a cry from the heart of King David as he pours out his need before God. Feeling far away from God, David asks if God has forgotten him. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13:1) Four times David cries out the phrase “How long?”. There are instances of pain and distress for followers of Christ that are common to all. Then, there are some who go through seasons, years, and even lifetimes of persistent pain and trouble.

Chronic diseases that make life seem unbearable have afflicted many people;  this Psalm is for you. Years of struggle, fighting temptation, and dealing with horrible family situations has been the lot of many; this Psalm is for you. In fact, this Psalm is for any one of God’s people who have ever uttered the phrase “I can’t go on.” However, when Psalm 13 becomes your prayer, it will give you hope that you can.

As you read the Psalm, you may relate with David’s pain, but when you get to verse 5 do you still see yourself? “But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” Can you proclaim such a statement of faith in spite of the circumstances you may be going through? Bible commentator Matthew Henry observes, “Here the mind of the despondent worshipper rises above all its distressing fears, and throws itself, without reserve, on the mercy and care of its Divine Redeemer. See the power of faith, and how good it is to draw near to God.”

It is my prayer that you would sing to the Lord with David because you recognize that “He has dealt bountifully with [you]”. You will sing whether or not your circumstances change because you know, as the Apostle Paul learned, the Lord’s “grace is sufficient for you, for [His] power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Matthew Henry continues, “In this way believers pour out their prayers, renouncing all hopes but in the mercy of God through the Saviour’s blood: and sometimes suddenly, at other times gradually, they will find their burdens removed, and their comforts restored; they then allow that their fears and complaints were unnecessary, and acknowledge that the Lord hath dealt bountifully with them.”

Let’s take a moment to look at how God demonstrates His love and goodness through the Gospel message. Perhaps, you’ve heard this word “gospel” but don’t know to what it refers. What is the Gospel? The Apostle Paul writes in Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:17) The gospel is the good news that God has made a way for broken sinners, such as myself, to be made right with Him through faith in Christ alone. The gospel is made possible through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you…Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) Jesus lived a perfect life, died the death we deserve, and rose again defeating sin and death; when we turn from our sins and believe in what Jesus has accomplished for us we can be certain we have eternal life. This is the gospel. This is the grace of God through which we can get through the hard times of life.

“I can go on.” I can say this, not because I am so strong and put together, but because I have trusted in my Savior Jesus Christ and He will get me through. It is only because of Christ that I can move forward every day and trust that no matter what comes upon me, I will be okay. If this is not you, then I implore you to come to Christ. You too can have hope in any circumstance. You too, with David, can say, “I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:6)

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ