Luther’s Nail

Some things weigh more heavily, possibly unhealthily, upon my personal studies than others at times. I assume that burden is true for most. In a recent discussion, one where grace was extended by all sides, the statement was made by one party, “Of these things being discussed, we still practice obedience to them; why others do not, I have no idea (paraphrased).”

That is a telling reality if in fact my friend and his churches of service have and are following verbatim what many have resigned to cultural practices during the days of the early church.

I am beyond confident this is not true for the majority of us. I speak not negatively, just that there is some obvious picking and choosing going on around here.

Luther's NailAn eerie forecast I recall is that from the Catholic Church, when Luther and others marched away, deeming that the Protestant movement would become unmanageable, that schism would birth schism upon schisms, until finally, fragmented, the movement would cease being an effective influence in the world around her.

Protestantism has evolved to the place where the gospel is conveyed through an endless number of means, where most anything anyone requires so that they might hear and believe can be found within a set of walls somewhere. I have a hard time accepting this is what Luther envisioned and wonder deeply had he been privileged with seeing forward would he not have left hammer and nail in his tool shed.

For me, and I say this with gratitude, I am glad he did not have the gift of seeing what Protestantism would become, not knowing how it would appeal in his day. That will sound weird to some and others will scold my reflection no doubt, but I trust that Jesus is doing just as He chooses.

If, as God has decreed, all authority everywhere has been given to Him, and He is reigning justly from His Throne, then everything is going just as He determines because He promised, “I will build My Church…

KJGThis is why I concur with Scot McKnight and many who herald a message just like his. I think he has tapped into something huge, concluding that the church was never meant to look the same in every place and time. Rather, she is meant to carry the unchanging gospel to ever-changing cultures.

The diversity of the body of Christ as it is today is boundless in speaking into the lives of an even more diverse population than ever before. We might describe it this way.

The Church is becoming all things to all people so that she might save some in all places and all times.

If there is anything to be discouraged by in this state of the church, it is our unwillingness to see the benefit of diversity and our refusal to be one as commanded.

I believe that my quoted friend is honest in his relating their adherence to first century customs, and I believe there is a need for some to have this stability to hold on to. I also know there is another community that will never be reached by such strict mimicking. Isn’t it possible that there is a need for both? Hence, a diverse church able to minister to all?

One of my absolute favorite places to read proves the possibility of this being a reality; Jess’ site, All Along the Watchtower. There, believers from a multitude of the mixture of differing views gather to read and write, finding a common ground in Christ Jesus and His good news.

It is in this all-powerful gospel, and it alone, that unity awaits, even beckons, regardless of how radically diverse God chooses for His children to become. And for a small uptick… God used a servant nail to put it all in motion.

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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23 Responses to Luther’s Nail

  1. Really enjoyed this entire conversation. Reminds me much of what God has laid on my heart to writing a book I’m finishing up right now. How it all comes down to HIS church and not ours.

    • mtsweat says:

      Hi Heather. Does finishing your book right now mean it will be avaialble for us to read very soon? Glad you enjoyed our conversing and to learn of your writing efforts in book form… we’ll keep an eye out. Blessings.

      • Well I hope! Haha! Actually, I have not heard yet from God on even sending it to a publisher for consideration. I actually think I may give snow or all away … I’ve given it to Him all in all and it’s up to Him how it gets out there.

        Are you in FB? I’ve got a group there of, oh a hundred people or so, who are getting it at least in a digital copy.

        I can connect with you there if you’d like to as well. 🙂

        Thanks for asking.

  2. mtsweat says:

    RJ, I am thankful for the words of truth those as yourself refuse to keep from before us. It is easy, so disgustingly easy, to forget the offensiveness of the Cross in one’s strive for unity. It was in fact the same Lord who called for oneness that also said He came with a sword to divide. Thst Lovely one you mention above has I think and as has yourself identified the qualifier whether we unite or find ourselves divided… Love. Even in division we must be known for our love for one another. I’m not sure how to grasp that or put it in motion, but I am absolutley positive it is how others will know we are His disciples. Blessings good friend.

  3. RJ Dawson says:

    Thanks for delving into the deep here, Bro Mike.

    What to say? What I can I say that’s okay to say? What can I say that will not or never be offensive in some way to someone even though my intention is never to offend? I think for starters I will say that the Lord Jesus knew exactly what would happen when He opened up His mouth and began being who and what He is—the Living Word—the Living Word of God made flesh on this planet to speak the truth, to be the Truth—He IS the Truth—and speak it forth in full commitment knowing He would get slammed endlessly by those who had previously built up false religious models and corruptions of God’s written Word.

    Such people knew the surface characters of the written Word but never knew the Living Word. The Lord’s love was such that He spoke the truth anyway to set the record straight and to primarily FREE those who wanted the FREEDOM He wants all of us to have and the knowledge of Him. He knew He would be killed but He continually spoke up anyway. He did not want to offend but offenses are inevitable when one supports some version of truth that is not truth or not full truth.

    Pharisees always attempt rational arguments but never move and breathe in the Spirit of God because, as some lovely one here said, they were and are not into Love. It is love that allowed the Lord to let the evil ones crucify Him, and it is such love that is a major characteristic of those with the Truth or closer to the Truth. There is such a thing as proper and correct doctrine as taught by the Lord but such doctrine is proved by the willingness to preach it though one will get slammed for it the same way He did.

    Regarding Luther’s nail, he was certainly not the first, but his act is obviously commendable. The real community of the Lord had been preaching truth for many, many centuries before Luther’s time and paid with their lives continually. All preachers and teachers and ministers of the real Gospel must know that they may and probably will suffer the same fate as the Lord, His men, and the early believers in some form. They must. The real Gospel offends very powerfully but loves much more powerfully. The real Gospel will drive us to our knees and upon our faces to get right with God and rise up, but it will also cause those who refuse to adhere to the Lord’s full curriculum to kill those who do.

    Again, identify the killers and…

    Would that Christianity could be the soft, easy, loving, non-offensive entity so many try to make it so we could all just relax and have fun but this is simply not reality. The devil is a very powerful extremely evil entity that hates real Christianity and real Christians with a passion, and one better be suited up to fight when one joins the real fight, a fight that most often comes from so-called brethren of the faith.

    For all the pretenders, it doesn’t matter, and we know in our hearts who all the pretenders are though our minds may often refuse to acknowledge such truth.

    I definitely believe in Christian apologetics but sometimes the only proof that one is for real and one’s message is for real is to head down to Jerusalem and get nailed to a cross instead of simply nailing a message to a church door.

    Be blessed my brother.

  4. kennymack2 says:

    The thing about “Preaching” is that it is a very hard thing to do and be humble at the same time. Teaching by it’s very nature makes one person ‘appear’ APPEAR, superior to another. Preaching “Obedience ” is doubly hard. But it’s easy to understand the paradox of the question if you remember that “No one comes to the Father but by Me and no one comes to Me but by the Father. Do you see the unconscious unhumbleness in the statement ? “. . . . I have no idea”

    • mtsweat says:

      Thought provoking KennyMack. Probably not a bad thing to keep those burdened with the duty and gift of preaching lifted consistently before our Lord. The statement by the Christ you mention however is only spoken in vanity if not true. If Jesus is who He says He is, then it is spoken entirely in love. For if there is no other way, how cruel would it be to not share so? Blessings good friend.

  5. Ben says:

    Hi MT,
    It’s been a little while since I’ve commented, although I still like to keep an eye on your blog and I’m glad to always see you so committed to Christ.
    I’m probably not going to make too many friends here with this, but on a daily basis I see reasons to rejoice that I’ve decided join the Catholic Church. Your post gives a reason:
    “If there is anything to be discouraged by in this state of the church, it is our unwillingness to see the benefit of diversity and our refusal to be one as commanded.”
    The “forecast” you spoke of is indeed sadly fulfilled. But it can be used as a clear indicator of the need to seek out the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church… and not rest until we find it.
    Luther wasn’t entirely wrong, especially at first. The Church was still protected by God (as it is today), and the doctrines were sound (as they are today). But there were people within the Church who were not living up to the standards of the Church (as some people do not, today) in that sense reforms were needed…
    And we can be glad that Luther’s nail culminated in the Council of Trent, which turned out to be one of the greatest councils in the history of the Church. Thus, although (Roman) Catholics celebrate diversity of cultures, we also rejoice over our global oneness of doctrine… actually living up to Jesus’s prayer for unity in John 17:20-23.
    May God bless you!
    -Ben

    • mtsweat says:

      Hi Ben, it IS good to hear from you. This will probably not mix well on my behalf either, but I am glad you have found a source to our Christ, and none of my comments of the Catholic Church were meant derogatory, quite the opposite, I have found a great appreciation for her. How can one not if enough time is spent remembering how we have come to where we are. I’m probably not quite ready to lay down my Baptist hymnal but I am a far cry from where I once was in my appreciation for Catholics.

      Thanks for the informative words and prayers you find the blessings of our Lord today.

  6. ccragamuffin says:

    Jesus proclaimed that The Kingdom of God was here. He told us to share that Good News. Gospel. The listeners should have done a happy dance. Joy would be a proper response.
    Instead…
    What about these oppressive Romans?
    Why aren’t your disciples participating in ritual washing?
    How can you hang out with t.h.o.s.e. kind of people?
    What can I DO to EARN eternal life?
    Can you prove it?
    Who is in charge?
    What do you have to say about our very important questions of theology?

    I think the only happy dancing done was by the lowest of the low. By the ones who opened empty hands to receive. It seems that the real theologians…students of God… focused on the heart. I am concerned that I have gotten too far from the heart of the matter. I had originally typed a reaction…to inspire even more reaction, hopefully to react in the direction I think reactions should react in. But I couldn’t see the Gospel that way. It seemed like I was moving away from the Good News. I am thankful for the backspace key.

    So maybe THIS is what doesn’t change. Many focus on the questions. But. Some open empty hands to receive a free gift. And they do a happy dance. Happy dancing transcends culture. Which one draws people to The Kingdom?

    I need to dance.

    • mtsweat says:

      While the confessional is open, my immediate thought while reading your comment was, “I wish cc had spilled her original thoughts!” …checking for a backspace button in my thoughts.

      I think you bring something for us to consider that has meandered through my mind (along with thoughts needing a backspace button) often. Is it possible to get so caught up in these ‘questions’ that we lose focus on the ‘dance?’ (using your descriptives)

      I think about the Bereans and how they were commended, but then I sit back and wonder, what is it they were searching for to ensure Paul’s words were true? Was it not their searching the Old Testament to show Jesus is the Christ and that His good news is true?

      Very glad your backspace key is functional…

      • ccragamuffin says:

        I would be the last person to say that we should not use our mind. We are called to LOVE The Lord with all our heart…all our soul…all our MIND. But when The Master, whose disciples we are, condensed all that He desired from us, He said it was love. I am just doing a heart check and making sure that love is my motivation.

        And again, because I am of very little brain, I must depend on someone else to say it…

        “There are many who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge: that is curiosity. There are others who desire to know in order that they may be known:that is vanity. Others seek knowledge in order to sell it: that is dishonorable. But there are some who seek knowledge in order to edify others: that is love.” ~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux

        Love is what will transcend cultures. Perhaps a lense of love will see into the heart of the matter and simplify the questions, simplify what is required, and winsomely beckon souls? That seems to be the example of Our Master Teacher. I would like to do that on this issue but I find that my heart is still reacting instead of responding….so I will prayerfully ponder for a whole longer…and leave responses in your capable typing.

        • mtsweat says:

          Lunch Break… 🙂 Brevity is a curse. There was no insinuation toward your focus good friend, only that we often use the Berean text to defend our digging and digging and digging, when it is highly probable that all of their digging was entirely focused on identifying Jesus as the true Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, and that they probably were spending little time trying to find texts in the OT to defend whether to tithe or not. I for one treasure the wisdom you bring to this place where I too often run without putting shoes on first. It is also your comments that usually bring forth a continuance… as I have already borrowed (stolen) some from here for a near offering. Blessings painted with blueberry juice to you today!

  7. scythewieldor says:

    What if one of our unity problems was linked to identity? What if we made more of the identity Paul offered us in Ephesians 2&3 and Galatians 3:29? Why not magnify the history of strangers who were far from the citizenry of Israel made fellowcitizens with the saints in an association that has no second class citizens by the blood of Christ? Why not magnify our identity as Abraham’s seed whose mother is the Jerusalem which is above?
    An identity of a holy nation populated by mere men made adopted sons of the Living God empowered by the Holy Spirit to be kings and priests unto the Father by the triumphs of Jesus has a stronger calling to glory than the ability to argue theology and interpretations of prophecies with the big boys.

    • mtsweat says:

      I am pretty doggone sure that I agree with you my friend. In Christ. In Christ. In Christ. Very difficult to find anything to add when we see our identity is in Christ who is able to keep and to make His servants stand… boldly before the Throne of Grace, crying Abba, Father. Your ‘what if’ speaks volumes. Thanks.

  8. I am assuming MT you were not referring to biblical commands when you wrote this article. Issues of biblical morality ( sanctity of marriage, right to life, integrity of the family, personal holiness) aren’t up for debate. If the Bible says it we cannot change it. However we the “church” have biblicized a lot of things that just aren’t biblical and we have made sacred cows of said things. Issues of music style, dress code, translation use, building use and order of service/style of service are all up for grabs.
    Now I would never go to church in a coffee shop or probably a movie theater. Just not my cup of tea. But I am thankful my ex wife found a movie theater church to go to and is back faithfully serving the Lord with her new husband. She may never have darkened the door of a traditional church but that church was able to reach her when no one else could.
    People can cluck their tongues all they want about how sinful it is to drink coffee in the sanctuary. It comes down to nothing more than straining at gnats and swallowing camels. In the end “Culture eats process for breakfast.”

    • mtsweat says:

      Good catch to clarify Pastor J and indeed, confirming your assumption. Wholeheartedly with you on your words, but questions arise as some try to understand the cultural influence of certain texts, like those concerning women, or getting really honed in, the head covering texts or the foot washings and laying on of hands, or speaking in tongues, healing, or etc (you get the gist). These are dividing issues among Protestants, so I merely wonder… and wonder… and wonder. Thanks good friend!

      • Yes indeed I am fully with you on these issues. I am Pentecostal myself so I face some of these issues squarely and regularly. I don’t mind if people about me disagree with my talking in tongues. I even understand their reservations and reasonings. I disagree with them but it’s not an issue to divide over.
        I respect those differences when I attend their churches and I hope they would respect mine when they come to me. We have several people in our own congregation who struggle with women being in ministry. Yet my own sister and both of my daughters have trained and are working (or beginning to work) as missionaries They are being powerfully used by God.
        People can disagree and I guess they could call into question the results but to my mind that seems like a waste of our limited time.

        • mtsweat says:

          That is a fantastic testimony of your family’s willingness to make the sacrifice of going and sharing the gospel my good friend. I look forward to hearing of your daughters’ journeys and how God uses them reach the nations. Are they also writing of their call to go, and if so, might we follow their words?

          • Neither daughter has caught the blogging bug as of yet. They are newly graduated from college (my son also hoping to teach in Asia is still going for his masters). My daughter Amanda just moved into her apartment and starts full time work with a day hab in two weeks. Her mission will be to the disabled throughout the world and my other daughter is a children’s minister in Saugus MA and will be marrying her fiance who also is a children’s minister in November. As they walk closer to the field I imagine they will begin documenting their lives.

  9. Rob Barkman says:

    My brother,

    My one question is this what right do we have to no longer follow the EXPRESS COMMANDS of our Lord by using the excuse of societal change? To begin down this road is a very slippery slope and as a friend of mine once asked “how do we decide which to keep and which to not keep?” and “who is the one that will make such decisions?”

    By God’s grace may we all seek to adhere to His commands found in His Word as our ONLY rule of faith and practice and not use the excuses of this world to try to justify what God has clearly commanded for us to do.

    The ends NEVER justify the means when it comes to our service to our Lord.

    Lord bless you my friend.

    • mtsweat says:

      Hey my Brother! …fancy meeting you here. I truly am grateful for your sharing. It is not I assure my intent to rub wrongly, just to ponder the reality of the state of the church in the world today. By the way, I appreciated your take on the coverings text, but there have been many in history who concluded Paul was speaking of an actual veil, sort of as I remember even in my childhood ladies wearing scarfs to church. Thanks a lot my friend.

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