The core issue of the Ninety-Five Theses is the Bible. The Roman Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation (and still today) believed the Church had the authority to change God’s Word. This led to many things that today we would see as unimaginable. The most significant was the false teaching that you could purchase an indulgence and buy a loved one out of an imaginary placed called Purgatory (What is purgatory?)
This caused people throughout Europe, one being Martin Luther, to stand up to the false teaching and point people back to unchanging Word of God. Embracing text like Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.”
Today, “enlightened” America, believes that they have the authority over God’s Word to change it to meet their sinful desires. They effectively write their own bible. They then live out their lives according to their personal bible. From time to time (however not enough) Christians nail a 95 Theses to the door of their life, and they scream out, “Don’t judge me!” and they excommunicate us because they do not want to change (reform).
Unfortunately, the changing of God’s Word is as old as the Earth itself. We see it in the Garden of Eden and we see it in the early Church. The Apostle Paul dealt with the exact same thing in the Church in Galatia. Listen to what he writes:
- “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:6-9
In the town of Galatia people had come into the Church and claimed to be followers of Jesus, but then tried to convince people that in addition to believing in Jesus they also have to keep the law. Therefore, they taught that Jesus was necessary, but not sufficient. They wrongly taught that Jesus could only save you so far, but that you were ultimately responsible in saving yourself. So Paul does exactly what Luther does, he writes a letter and points out their false Gospel. Paul declares the person who proclaims a false gospel to be cursed. Why is Paul so fired up?
Because a false gospel equals a false salvation.
In Galatians 5:4 it says, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” Do you see it? If you believe justification (being declared not guilty before God) is based on doing good works, then you are severed from Christ. To be severed from Christ is to still be under the wrath of God and destined for Hell. So you can see why Paul was so passionate about tampering with the Gospel. People’s salvation was at stake.
So the question today is what Gospel do you believe in, the one written by man, or the one written by the Holy Spirit? Do you believe in the sufficiency of Christ to pay for all your sins, or do you believe that you will be ultimately justified by your law keeping? Many religious people never ponder this question. They instead just drink the Kool-Aid of false teaching. My encouragement today is DON’T BE THAT GUY (or gal). Read Galatians and ask, “What Gospel do I believe in?”