Not magic or Satan’s power

Jesus’ accusers said He did His miracles through magic or Satanic power.

The resurrection silenced these accusations.  No one believes a resurrection can happen magically or Satanically, because everyone on the planet knows that God alone can raise the dead.

Jesus’ accusers had to deny the resurrection, as they do to this day.  Otherwise, they would have to face that He really is God.

–from my pastor John’s sermon

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. (Acts 2:24, NIV)

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God’s Outlaw, Luther: Two Movies I’ll Keep Watching

When asked if he believed in the “heresy” that faith alone is sufficient for salvation, William Tyndale quoted his Latin-to-English translation of Ephesians 2:8-9 (which would, after his death, become the King James translation).

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

It did not matter to the leading clergy that Tyndale was quoting Scripture–he was in conflict with their leaders and their leaders’ writings.

And it did not matter to Tyndale that he was in conflict with the church’s leaders or their writings, because they were in conflict with the clear understanding of the Scriptures.

So long as the Scriptures were in Latin, and the people spoke English, it was impossible for a peasant to stand up against the authority of the false leaders.  They had no way of knowing what was false because they had no standard of truth.

Not far away in Germany, Martin Luther would say of the Scriptures he translated from Latin to German, “Here I stand.  I can do no other.”

From the lives of William Tyndale and Martin Luther, depicted in the movies God’s Outlaw and Luther, a fierce question demands answer:

Can I, in my philosophies, or any leader I respect, in their philosophies, contradict the clear meaning of the Word of God and be correct?

Tyndale would be burned at the stake for the answer he clung to, and Luther would nearly be tortured by the Inquisition.  Both men would live much of their lives as runaways, hiding to keep their lives.  They would leave a legacy far from stardom: one of hunger, persecution, the death of friends, and at times great loneliness and isolation.

Yet they held to one, and only one, answer:

No person, no matter how learned, or how wise, or how much (s)he claims to have heard from God, can contradict the Word of God and remain in truth.

God cannot, and does not, contradict Himself.  Since God is Truth, He cannot also be lie.

My message is based on the confidence of eternal life. God, who never lies, promised this eternal life before the world began. (Titus 1:2, GW)

Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. (Hebrews 6:16-20a, NLT)

Nothing outside of Scripture, no matter how powerful, how ancient, or how popular, holds the right to contradiction.

For Luther and Tyndale, power was in the Word of God.  Though they were out of favor with the leaders of their day, they were not out of favor with the disciples or early church leaders.  But most importantly, they were not out of favor with the Word of God, which says

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Luther and Tyndale believed God does not give spiritual leaders to us to tell us how to think, but rather to shepherd us under the Good Shepherd.  false shepherds (Jesus equates them to the “thief”, “robber”, and “stranger” in his extraordinary parable (John 10:1-18) do exist.  The Word of God says:

test everything; hold fast what is good. (from 1 Thessalonians 5:21, ESV)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1, ESV)

We are repeatedly warned in the Scriptures that there will be false leaders.

For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 1:16-21, 2:1-3, NASB)

We are not to trust any leader blindly, and not to follow anyone who would give a different message than the Message given in the Word of God.

Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. (Galatians 1:8, NLT)

William Tyndale and Martin Luther are two of the greatest church leaders we have ever known.  But it is not their leadership that made them great church leaders.  It was their recognition that all leadership must fall under the authority of and be tested by the Word of God.

Most employers don’t hire a new employee without a background check.  They certainly don’t hire a new CEO without checking a single reference.  In the same way, we can, we should, and we must check all church leaders, and all Christian writing against the authority of Christ, recognizing that no person, and no writing, is perfect except the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.  His authority is revealed to us in His unchanging, perfect, ever-relevant Word.

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. (Psalm 119:89, NIV)

For,
         “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS,
         AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS.
         THE GRASS WITHERS,
         AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF,

         BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.”
And this is the word which was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:24-25, NASB)

Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever. (Paslm 119:152, NIV)

“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. “(Jesus, quoted in Matthew 24:35, NLT)

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