Reformation Day

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg cathedral, marking the traditional start date of the Reformation. This day, 493 years later, I enjoyed reading a brief sermon by Luther himself.

Here's a few notable quotes from Luther on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7.
Whatever Christians do, it should be willing service, not compulsory; but when a command is given, it should be in the form of exhortation or entreaty

Unchasity does not come within the limits of Christian liberty and privilege, nor does God treat the offender with indulgence and impunity.
Happy Reformation Day!


No more hiding

“The gospel is the best news we could ever hear. The gospel is about Jesus Christ and his power to transform our lives and relationships, communities, and ultimately, the nations. Through this gospel, we are freely given a new identity — an identity not based on race, social class, gender, a theological system, or a system of rules and regulations. Rather it is a new and perfect identity based solely on faith in Jesus — an identity that defines every aspect of our lives. We are now forgiven, righteous, adopted, accepted, free, and heirs to everything that belongs to Christ. So even our sin, weakness, and failures do not define who we are. Because of this good news, we no longer have to hide from our sin and pretend that we have it all together, for God knows and loves us as we are, not as we pretend to be.”
- Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation, 2nd ed. (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, 2006), i.

(via: OFI)


The All-Sufficient Mercy of God

The Gadsby hymnal is a collection of hymns put together by William Gadsby, a Particular Baptist minister who lived from 1773–1844. Recently, certain groups have selected songs from this hymnal and put the texts to modern tunes. Here is one (#12) entitled "The All-Sufficient Mercy of God". I'm quite a fan. (Note: I'm not entirely sure what it means that the third stanza is in brackets, but I find that verse cutting and very helpful.)

All glory to mercy we bring,
The mercy that reigns evermore,
The infinite mercy we sing,
The mercy eternal adore.

The mercy converting we prize;
In mercy forgiving delight;
For conquering mercy we rise,
We rise and triumphantly fight.

[And when we are wounded by sin,
And scarcely a prayer can repeat,
The mercy that heals us again,
Is mercy transportingly sweet.]

What though in the furnace we fall,
Free mercy the Saviour proclaims;
Free mercy in Jesus we call,
And glorify God in the flames.

For mercy upholding we pray;
For mercy confirming aspire;
And mercy will bear us away
To God and the glorified choir.

 - Written by R. Burnham, based on Psalm 89:28, via The Gadsby Hymnal


Internet, the Gospel, & homepages

If you don't have Of First Importance as your homepage, make it your homepage now.

I have this website as my homepage because I was born alienated from God, then saved by God, and now living in reconciled relationship with God. I need all the help I can get to remember the gospel. Oh, and the gospel isn't some abstract concept that changes people: it is Jesus.

Here's a quick and easy guide on how to change your homepage if you don't know how: How To Set Your Browser's Home Page


My moral character vs. Jesus' righteousness


I don’t want to be stuck in a cycle of sin for my entire life. I feel powerless to conquer my sin. I cannot overrule it. Your word says that I should, “by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body” and not think that I will be “perfected by the flesh”, but rather “by hearing with faith.”

I judge the measure of my life’s goodness, joy, and success by my level of sin. This is a deep sin and mistrust of You. Forgive me for this and work in me faith which trusts in your Son. Let me not trust the sweetest frame. If I were ever a morally outstanding example in purity, love, and good works, let me not trust in this. Jesus is the root of my salvation, not my good moral character. Indeed, I should find it insane to trust in my own righteousness, for it is non-existent. I bring nothing to your feet by which I can commend myself. Give me a simple, one-point faith. A faith that answers to the valid charge of my sin and uncleanness by pointing simply to the slain Lamb of God, “for while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the unrighteous.”

I am saved by Jesus name, not mine. Amen.