Come People of the Risen King
w/m Keith & Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend
Youtube Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJsizuCKq9k
Come, people of the Risen King
Who delight to bring Him praise
Come all and tune your hearts to sing
To the Morning Star of grace
From the shifting shadows of the earth
We will lift our eyes to Him
Where steady arms of mercy reach
To gather children in
Rejoice, Rejoice! Let every tongue rejoice!
One heart, one voice; O Church of Christ, rejoice!
Come, those whose joy is morning sun
And those weeping through the night
Come, those who tell of battles won
And those struggling in the fight
For His perfect love will never change
And His mercies never cease
But follow us through all our days
With the certain hope of peace
Come, young and old from every land
Men and women of the faith
Come, those with full or empty hands
Find the riches of His grace
Over all the world, His people sing
Shore to shore we hear them call
The Truth that cries through every age
Our God is all in all
We have sung this song a half-dozen times at MABC and it is a great call to worship. It is a call to everyone of all ages, all walks of life, in every point of their walk with Christ. While we all are as diverse as our fingerprints, we all, as true believers in Christ, are subjects of the King of kings. So this song sounds the trumpet and rings the bell to all for the worship of Jesus Christ.
Come, people of the Risen King who delight to bring Him praise. This is not just a call to all who have been saved, but specifically to those who delight in giving praise to the Lord. Do we jump out of bed on Sunday mornings, giving enough time so that we are not rushed nor late to the service? Are we excited for that countdown clock on the screen to reach 0 so we can join our voices with others in the body in lifting up God-honoring lyrics that tell of the works and attributes of our Heavenly Father? Do we delight to bring Him praise? When we focus on Him, and not ourselves, how can we do otherwise?
Come all and tune your hearts to sing to the Morning Star of grace. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus refers to Himself as the Morningstar. He is our audience of One. He is the one we sing to. Some of us warm up our voices before leading worship, but we all should be warming up our hearts to sing. Our thoughts should not be on the screen, lights, band, volume, or anything else that we can let distract our minds. Focus on Christ, and Christ alone. From the shifting shadows of the earth we will lift our eyes to Him, where steady arms of mercy reach to gather children in. Each week, our circumstances change, so one week, we may come with a heavy, burdened heart, and the next be on the mountain top. Although our world may change, praise God, His arms of mercy never do.
Rejoice, Rejoice! Let every tongue rejoice! One heart, one voice; O Church of Christ, rejoice! Rejoicing is a command. How can we rejoice when our world falls apart? Clearly we can because it is commanded. The key is looking to Christ, not to our circumstances. Christ is sovereign and never changes!
Come, those whose joy is morning sun and those weeping through the night. Come, those who tell of battles won and those struggling in the fight. I am always aware that in our MABC congregation or in any audience for our concerts, there will be a great variety of situations souls are coming from. That is why I don’t start the service with “How y’all doing today!” because some may honestly answer “terrible”. I try to focus on Christ, not our “feelings” because Christ meets us all right where we are with His love and mercy for every situation…as the song continues, “For His perfect love will never change and His mercies never cease, but follow us through all our days with the certain hope of peace”.
Come, young and old from every land, men and women of the faith. Come, those with full or empty hands find the riches of His grace. What great wordplay focusing on the true riches found in God’s grace! Over all the world, His people sing. Shore to shore we hear them call. The Truth that cries through every age, our God is all in all. It’s awesome to think that every Sunday, there are people from all over the globe who are, in their own way and own style, lifting up the same Jesus that we are. No matter where you are, somewhere, someone is praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for what He’s done…and each Sunday morning, we get to be that someone!
Behold Our God
w/m Jonathan Baird, Meghan Baird, Ryan Baird, Stephen Altrogge
Who has held the oceans in His hands?
Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at His voice
All creation rises to rejoice
Behold our God seated on His throne
Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!
Who has given counsel to the Lord?
Who can question any of His Words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things?
Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?
Who has felt the nails upon His hands?
Bearing all the guilt of sinful man
God eternal humbled to the grave
Jesus, Savior risen now to reign!
You will reign forever!
Let Your glory fill the earth!
One of my favorite new hymns is Sovereign Grace’s “Behold Our God”. This song is a series of rhetorical questions that point out the power and sovereignty of God, as well as the absurd pride of the natural thought processes of man. Who has held the oceans in His hands? Who has numbered every grain of sand? Starting with a focus on God’s infinite power and knowledge, this line sets the tone of the song by seeing God for who He is. Kings and nations tremble at His voice. All creation rises to rejoice. While many kings and nations think they exercise sovereignty, in reality, they are given their power and authority by the King of kings. The heavens declare the glory of God, and one day every knee will bow to the Lord of lords.
Behold our God seated on His throne, come let us adore Him. Read Revelation 5. It is stunning how the hosts of heaven rejoice when Jesus steps forward to open the scroll of the wrath of God. Angelic beings like the four living creatures and the 24 elders sing the praises of God day and night. They see God face to face and their response is continual praise. We sometimes struggle to get through a five song set on a Sunday morning, but one day, face to face, we will see Him as He is, and we will adore Him forever and ever. This song calls for us to see God, even if it is veiled (For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known), and adore the one who sits on the throne, to whom nothing can compare. Behold our King nothing can compare, come let us adore Him!
Who has given counsel to the Lord? Who can question any of His Words? Who can teach the One who knows all things? Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds? What stunningly ludicrous and laughable questions… sadly there are many who have had their eyes blinded, who think they can tell God what He should do and who He should be. Ephesians 1 teaches us that God does everything according to the counsel of His own will. Some may question His words, but in the end every knee will bow to the King. God is omniscient, God never learns anything. God never has to wait for man to act before knowing how to react. God is the initiator and no one can understand the ways of God apart from the holy scriptures.
Who has felt the nails upon His hands, Bearing all the guilt of sinful man? Jesus atoned for our sins on the cross. Atonement means “reconciliation” or “amends.” That means that Jesus vicariously (in the place of another) paid for our sins so that they are no more. Mark 10:45 says that Jesus gave His life a ransom for many. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “For our sake he made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”. That is what is called the “Great Exchange”. Jesus took our sinful life and was punished in our place, and in exchange, gave us His righteousness. That is how we we can stand before the Father, because we now have the righteousness of Christ. Atonement assures that we will never die in our sins for they are as far as the east is from the west, never to be remembered again.
God eternal humbled to the grave, Jesus, Savior risen now to reign! Jesus, who is God, humbled Himself and was crucified, and rose again, defeating sin and death. The bridge of the song then carries the praise to our Lord: You will reign forever! Let Your glory fill the earth!
w/m Aaron Keyes and Pete James
God the uncreated One, the Author of salvation
Wrote the laws of space and time and fashioned worlds to His design
The One whom angel hosts revere hung the stars like chandeliers
Numbered every grain of sand, knows the heart of every man
He is King forever, He is King forever
He is King forevermore
God our fortress and our strength, the Rock on which we can depend
Matchless in His majesty, His power and authority
Unshaken by the schemes of man, never changing Great I am
Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall, He is faithful through it all
Crown Him King forever, crown Him King forever
Crown Him King forevermore
Mighty God in mortal flesh forsaken by a traitor's kiss
The curse of sin and centuries did pierce the lowly Prince of Peace
Lifted high the sinless man, crucified the spotless Lamb
Buried by the sons of man, rescued by the Father's hand
To reign as King forever, reign as King forever
Reign as King forevermore
King eternal God of grace, we crown You with the highest praise
Heaven shouts and saints adore, You’re holy, holy, holy Lord
What joy in everlasting life, all is love and faith is sight
Justice rolls and praises rise at the name of Jesus Christ
King of kings forever, King of kings forever
King of kings forevermore
I heard this song recently, for the first time at the “Sing” conference in Nashville and was immediately blown away. Not only does it have a powerful melody that helps lift the lyrics, but helps them stick like glue to our hearts. Very few songs these days are SO focused on the person and work of our King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and to me, that is the sign of a great song that will last.
God the uncreated One, the Author of salvation. Clearly, the writers want God to be the focus and want to tell of His attributes. It always makes my brain explode to think how God had no beginning. I begin to think, “Why did He wait so long”, and “wasn’t He lonely”, then I remember, He had perfect fellowship within the Trinity for eternity. Wrote the laws of space and time and fashioned worlds to His design. God is not only Creator, but Sustainer. There is not a random molecule in the universe. The One whom angel hosts revere, hung the stars like chandeliers. What a great line, and a great picture. If you’ve ever seen the vastness of the universe explained, it is mind boggling, yet, God is so big, He just hung it all there in its place. Numbered every grain of sand, knows the heart of every man. The God who knows every detail of His universe, also knows every thought we think, every temptation we face, every emotion we feel, and every choice we make… and that King has still chosen us to be His subjects. He is King forever, He is King forever. He is King forevermore.
God our fortress and our strength, the Rock on which we can depend. As we enter the 501st year since the reformation, this line hearkens back on last week’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God”. Matchless in His majesty, His power and authority. Unshaken by the schemes of man, never changing, Great I am. One of the most comforting attributes of God is His immutability. God doesn’t change because God is not reacting to life’s events. Nothing surprises God. Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall, He is faithful through it all. Crown Him King forever, crown Him King forever. Crown Him King forevermore. We are citizens of the United States, but that is only a temporary kingdom. Our eternal allegiance is to the eternal kingdom of our King Forevermore!
Mighty God in mortal flesh, forsaken by a traitor's kiss. The curse of sin and centuries did pierce the lowly Prince of Peace. This next verse takes a turn to look at the incarnation of Christ. While it was Judas who physically betrayed Christ, our lies betray Him everyday. While it was the Roman soldiers who drove in the nails, it is our sin that made it necessary. Lifted high the sinless man, crucified the spotless Lamb. Buried by the sons of man. Not one drop of blood was shed for His own sins as Jesus could not, and did not sin. Rescued by the Father's hand to reign as King forever, reign as King forever. Reign as King forevermore. Because of the work done 2000 years ago, we have a High Priest, and King who was “raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
King eternal God of grace, we crown You with the highest praise. Heaven shouts and saints adore, You’re holy, holy, holy Lord. The song, rightly ends in praise and adoration of our risen King. What joy in everlasting life, all is love and faith is sight. Justice rolls and praises rise at the name of Jesus Christ. King of kings forever, King of kings forever. King of kings forevermore.
A Mighty Fortress is Our God
w/m Martin Luther (1529). Translated by Frederick Hedge (1853) Chorus Bill Itzel (2017)
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing
Our Helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe
His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate
On earth is not his equal
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He
The Lord of hosts His name, from age to age the same
And He will win the battle
Out of darkness, light has come
We will follow ‘til the dawn
The word alone will be our guide
’Til all is known at Jesus’ side
When face to face we see Him
And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure
One little word shall fell him
Last week, we looked at how Martin Luther and the Reformation changed theology (The 5 Solas), but he also made a great impact on congregational singing. Before the Reformation, the singing was done by the clergy up front and the people just listened (Sadly, much of modern worship 500 years later has come full-circle and is very performance based). Not only had the Roman Church banned congregational singing, but the mass was in Latin and the common people did not understand what was being sung. In fact, John Huss was burned at the stake for three heresies, one of which was encouraging congregational singing. To reform singing in the church, Luther wrote hymns for his people to sing… and we’ve been singing them ever since.
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing. A Bulwark is a wall or fortification. This hymn is one that focuses on the attacks of the devil, and Luther could see clearly what the perversion of the gospel could yield, as he grew up surrounded by the darkness that was about to be pierced by the light of the Reformation. God is our fortress in the darkness. The devil will try to constantly attack our hearts, our families, our churches, but he is nothing compared to the barricade of God’s power and protection. Our Helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. We can certainly see this clearly today as the trials of this life hit us in wave after wave and often seem to prevail. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe. His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal. Our ancient foe is the devil. He has been the enemy of mankind since the garden and is always “prowling about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). While he is nothing compared to our God, for he is a created being who has no power except what God allows him, he is still a formidable foe to us, who preys on our flesh and weakness.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing. Because of the power the devil has been given, and because of the weakness of our flesh, we often fail when we try to live in our own strength. Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing. 1 Peter 1 says that “He (Jesus) was foreknown (Chosen to have a special love relationship with) before the foundation of the world.” and in Isaiah 42:1 it speaks of the Messiah, when it says “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” Luke 9:35 says “A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Jesus was chosen by the Father, before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8) to be the lamb slain in our place. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He. The Lord of hosts His name, from age to age the same, and He will win the battle. As the passage above in Isaiah prophecies, “he WILL bring forth justice to the nations."
I have added a chorus on this special occasion to tie in the principle of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone). Out of darkness, light has come, we will follow ‘til the dawn. Post Tenebras Lux is the Latin for “Out of Darkness, Light” and is the theme of the Reformation. The word alone will be our guide. Before the Reformation, the Catholic church held (and still does) that the Bible, the Word, is just one source for truth, on par with papal authority, sacred tradition, and the teachings of the magisterium. Today, there are those who claim to receive a “word from God”, and no one is allowed to question its validity because it is “from God." Today, we need to understand the concept that scripture alone is the final authority for faith and practice and that we have the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” and that we are not to add or take away from the words of the book. Scripture alone is authoritative, complete, and sufficient. ’Til all is known at Jesus’ side when face to face we see Him. One day, we will not need scripture to guide us for when “we see Him, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).
And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us. We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. It brings great peace to know that God is going to triumph. It gives even more peace to know that He will triumph simply because He wills it. That’s power and sovereignty. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him. His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him. Our fear of the devil and of the tribulations of this life often comes when we lose sight of God’s sovereignty. There is not a random molecule in this universe that God is not in control of. Nothing happens that God does not either cause or allow and that is why He is our Mighty Fortress!
If you have been through the Connection Center lobby of Mount Airy Bible Church, you have likely seen the banner advertising Reformation Day. Most Evangelical Christians are not only unfamiliar with the figures of the reformation at the bottom (L to R - Zwingli, Huss, Knox, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Wycliffe), but also the doctrines that came out of that time. Christianity had degraded to a point where it would be barely recognizable by the early church. Doctrines and practices were corrupted and the whole world was in a spiritual environment of darkness.
“Post tenebras lux” is a latin term meaning “Out of Darkness… Light”. This is a term often used to describe what the Reformation meant to the world and to the doctrines of the church. The 5 solas are:
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) » The Roman Catholic Church taught that the foundation for faith and practice was a combination of the scriptures, sacred tradition, and the teachings of the magisterium and the pope. Luther and the other reformers stressed that nothing is as authoritative as “Thus sayeth the Lord”. That is why Luther, Tyndale, and others were so anxious to get the Word of God into the hands of the common man, in their common tongue, even if it cost them their lives.
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) » Catholic theology teaches that we are saved through a combination of God's grace, the merits that we accumulate through penance and good works, and the merits that the saints before us accumulated. Ephesians 2:8-9 is clear that we are saved by grace through faith alone.
Sola Fide (Faith Alone) » While the Catholic Church taught that we are justified by faith PLUS the works that we do, the reformers made clear that we are justified by faith alone, not by works, lest any man should boast.
Solus Christus (In Christ Alone) » The Church at the time falsely taught that we are saved by the merits of Christ and the saints, and that we approach God through Christ, the saints, and Mary, who all pray and intercede for us. This is not found in scripture for we are saved by the merits of Christ Alone, and we come to God through Christ Alone.
Soli Deo Gloria (To the Glory of God Alone) » The final teaching the reformers protested against was the teaching that the glory for a sinner's salvation could be attributed partly to Christ, partly to Mary and the saints, and partly to the sinner himself, but, in the words of Jonathan Edwards, “We bring nothing to our salvation, but the sin that made it necessary.”
Key Players in The Reformation
John Wycliffe » John Wycliffe has been called “The Morning Star of the Reformation.” Wycliffe lived in the 1300’s, 150 years before Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenburg, but his influence was the spark that ignited the reformation flame. By the time Wycliffe was just a teen, he was at Oxford and eventually was on the faculty there. While at Oxford, he wrote 3 important works that targeted corruption in the Roman Catholic church: On Divine Dominion (1373–1374), On Civil Dominion (1375–1376), and On the Truth of Sacred Scripture (1378). The first attacked papal authority as having no scriptural basis, the second targeted the Catholic Church’s power over civil authority, and the third taught the authority of Scripture over all else. These were violently opposed to the teachings of the church that plunged Europe into the “Dark Ages”. Wycliffe also translated the “Wyclifffe Bible”. He died on December 30, 1384 after two strokes, but at the same council that martyred John Huss years later, Wycliffe’s bones were dug up, burned, and the ashes spread into the river. His followers came to be called Lollards and continued his message of reform long after his death.
John Huss » John Huss was a Czech priest and preacher born in gooseland in the Kingdom of Bohemia around 1369. Upon seeing the wicked immorality in the priesthood, he began preaching “violent sermons” against the sins he saw around him, and was soon banned from preaching. Huss was greatly influenced by the works of John Wycliffe and because of their ties, he was excommunicated, tried for heresy in a mock trial, and burned alive. Greg Morse tells the story, “Lured to the Council of Constance under the promise of safety, (Huss) was immediately thrown into prison for six months, given a mock trial, and ordered to recant — which he refused. In July 1415, he was stripped naked, adorned with a dunce hat painted with devils and labeled “Arch-Heretic” — all as he prayed for his enemies. They then led him past a burning pile of his books and chained him to the stake. In response to being chained up like a dog, he said, “My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this one for my sake, so why should I be ashamed of this rusty chain?” They told him once more to recant, but he refused, proclaiming, “What I taught with my lips I will now seal with my blood.” And that he did. As the flames climbed higher, he sang. After Huss was finally condemned to death, he proclaimed, “You may roast the goose, but a hundred years from now a swan will arise whose singing you will not be able to silence.” Exactly 102 years later, a sprightly monk nailed ninety-five theses to Wittenberg’s door.”
Urlich Zwingli » Zwingli was a contemporary of Luther in the city of Zurich in Switzerland. While a priest at Grossmunster church, Zwingli came to believe the same biblical doctrines as Luther but had a broader focus, including social reform with his doctrinal reform of the church. Zwingli was the first to declare that the bread and wine were merely bread and wine and were just a reminder of the blood and body of Christ. Unlike Luther, Zwingli’s path had much less struggle. In 1523, he was allowed to argue his doctrines before the public and won them over. Protestant teachings spread throughout the whole area, and while the doctrines were correct, the outworking of those doctrines were often full of iconoclasm (the destruction of all icons and religious art). Soon, the city authorities banned all images from churches. “Switzerland was a confederation of territories linked by a network of treaties” (The Essence of the Reformation, Kirsten Birkett). Peace was attempted through a couple of treaties in 1529 and 1531, and after 2 short battles, in which Zwingli and other protestant leaders lost their lives, the boundaries were set between protestant and catholic territories.
Other people worth reading about in the reformation include:
Key Players in The Reformation
It is not an exaggeration to say that William Tyndale changed the course of history. If you own a copy of the Bible in English, you can thank Tyndale. While Luther was leading a reformation in Germany and Calvin was leading a reformation in Switzerland, Tyndale’s English translation of the Bible was changing Christianity in England.
Tyndale was born in 1494, in Gloucestershire, in rural western England. At the age of 14, Tyndale entered Magdalen College, where he learned grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, rhetoric, logic, and philosophy. He excelled in the study of languages under the finest classical scholars in England. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1512 and a master’s degree in 1515.
While at Cambridge University, Tyndale learned of, and embraced the teachings of Martin Luther and gathered regularly with other scholars at the White Horse Inn to discuss religion and theology. It was in these debates as well as his meetings with local Catholic clergy that Tyndale felt the deep desire to give the common man the Word of God in their own language.
“During one meal, he fell into a heated argument with a Catholic clergyman, the latter asserting, 'We had better be without God’s laws than the pope’s.' Tyndale boldly responded: 'I defy the pope and all his laws.' He then added these famous words: 'If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plough, shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost.'" (Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 77).
To translate the Bible, Tyndale needed permission from the church, so he traveled to London to meet with the bishop of London, Cuthbert Tunstall. Tunstall would not give permission for fear of the upheaval in England that he saw in Germany.
While Tyndale wanted to obey the authorities, he knew he was forced to choose between man’s word and God’s Word, so he became an exile and a fugitive for the last 12 years of his life as he began work on his unauthorized English translation. In 1525, he finished his translation of the New Testament in Cologne and found a printer to print six thousand copies of his New Testament, the first copies ever printed in English.
Those copies were smuggled into England and were in high demand. After years of failed attempts at arresting Tyndale, his enemies tried another strategy. In early 1534, Tyndale moved into a house in Antwerp as the guest of Thomas Poyntz, a wealthy English merchant who was sympathetic to the reformation. Back in England, a man named Harry Phillips, who had racked up many gambling debts, was offered a large sum of money to find, befriend, and betray Tyndale. In his desperation, Phillips accepted the offer. Phillips lured Tyndale into a narrow passage, where soldiers arrested him. After twelve years as a fugitive, Tyndale was finally captured.
Tyndale was executed on October 6, 1536. He was strangled, burned, and his body blown apart by gunpowder, but at some point before his death, he cried his famous last words: “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes” (Tyndale, cited in Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 83). We will forever owe a debt of gratitude to William Tyndale every time we memorize scripture, read a passage, or share the gospel from an English translation of the Bible.
Key Players in The Reformation
If Martin Luther was the heart of the Protestant Reformation, John Calvin was the mind. He is quit arguably the most important Protestant theologian of all time. Calvin was born in 1509 in Noyon in France, so he was still a child when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, however, Calvin’s influence as a theologian, pastor, statesman, reformer, and teacher are second to none.
At age fourteen, Calvin entered the University of Paris, to study theology and graduated with a master’s degree at the age of 19, and a law degree at the age of 23. It was through his studies of the works of Martin Luther that Calvin was converted, and because of his protestant views, he was forced to flee Paris in 1533. Calvin moved to Switzerland where he penned his theological masterpiece, Institutes of the Christian Religion.
In 1536, Calvin decided to move to Strasbourg, in southwest Germany, to further his studies, but was forced to detour to Geneva, where he planned to spend only one night.
While there, he was recognized as the author of “the Institutes”, and was convinced to stay and lead the newly protestant town. Calvin started out as a lecturer and then as a pastor. All went well, until Calvin instituted church discipline at the Communion table. He refused to serve some he knew were living in open sin and was forced out of the town.
Calvin left for Strasbourg and was convinced by another reformer Martin Bucer, to continue his pastoral ministry there. While in Strasbourg, Calvin wrote what has been hailed as the greatest apologetic for the Reformation, A Reply to Sadoleto. After three years, Calvin was called back to Geneva, a city that had deteriorated politically and religiously since Calvin’s departure. Calvin was a verse-by-verse expositor of the scripture, and on his first Sunday back in the pulpit in Geneva, Calvin picked up right here he left off, on the very next verse following the last one he had covered before being exiled.
Calvin faced many trials while in Geneva. Steve Lawson explains it this way, “He faced the resistance of the Libertines, people within Geneva who were antinomians, living in open sin and immorality. But most demanding by far was the ordeal caused by Michael Servetus in 1553.
This known heretic was burned at the stake by the city fathers after Calvin had been called as an expert witness. In other trials during this time, Calvin’s son, Jacques, died only two weeks after his birth in 1542, and Calvin’s wife, Idelette, died in 1549 after only nine years of marriage.”
However, the Lord brought Calvin through these tribulations and the last 9 years of his ministry were blessed with unity and growth.
Calvin is most remembered as the theologian who picked up the theological mantle of Augustine as one who focused on the Sovereignty of God in all things.
For more information on the life of John Calvin, I recommend:
The Expository Genius of John Calvin: Steven J. Lawson
Key Players in The Reformation
As we approach the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I decided to take a break from exegeting the hymns for a few weeks, so I could focus on some key players in the most momentous event in church history since the Apostles left the scene. Sadly, I have found that very few churches spend much time looking back at the lessons and leaders of the past, and wind up making some of their same mistakes. It is true that if we ignore the lessons of the past, we are doomed to repeat them. So many amazing men and women have stood for truth, battled heresy, spread the gospel, and lost their lives so that we can have the freedom to worship in truth today. Men like Athanasius, Augustine, Chrysostom, Wycliffe, Hus, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Owen, Bunyan, Edwards, Whitfield, Spurgeon, Packer, Sproul, MacArthur, etc. have spent their lives and ministries studying, preserving, and preaching the truth in God’s Word. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
The first leader of the Reformation I want to look at is Martin Luther. Luther as born in 1483 in Eisleben, Saxony. In accordance to the wishes of his father, Luther began to study law, but that was short-lived, for in July of 1505, he experienced the first of several events that changed his life forever. In the middle of a thunderstorm, a lightning bolt struck the ground just yards from where Luther was standing. In fear, he fell to the ground and cried “Save me, St. Anne, and I’ll become a monk!” Making good on his promise, Luther left the study of law and joined the order of St. Augustine.
The second event that changed Luther’s thinking in a dramatic way, took place in Rome. Luther was sent there in 1510 where he witnessed the corruption of the Roman Catholic church in shocking clarity. There, he climbed the “The Holy Stairs” which were said to be the same stairs Jesus climbed when He appeared before Pilate 1500 years earlier. The belief was that God would forgive some of the sins of those who climbed the stairs on their knees. Luther did so, repeating the Lord’s Prayer, kissing each step, and seeking peace with God. But when he reached the top step, he looked back and his thought was, “Who knows whether this is true?”
The third and final experience that led Martin Luther to that fateful day in October 1517 was the arrival of John Tetzel. Tetzel was a corrupt Dominican monk who offered the sale of indulgences. This was the practice where commoners could purchase from the church a letter that allegedly freed a dead loved one from purgatory. This enraged Luther and in an effort to start a conversation on the fraudulent practices of the Roman church, on October 31st, 1517, Luther nailed a copy of 95 grievances, or 95 Thesis to the “Church bulletin board” or castle church door, which was a common practice at the time. The 95 Thesis was not written in the common German language, but in Latin that most people could not read, but some of his students translated, copied, and distributed his writings and the rest, as they say, is history.
Around this time, Luther was obsessed with Romans 1:17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" Luther said, “… by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, 'He who through faith is righteous, shall live.’ There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, 'He who through faith is righteous, shall live.' Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 34, 337)
With this newfound understanding of Sola Fide, or salvation by faith alone and not faith plus works, Luther began to see the Word, AND the church in a new light. He attacked the papal authority itself, for he believed scripture alone (Sola Scriptura) was the final authority for the church. In the summer of 1520, the pope issued a “bull”, or edict, in which forty-one of Luther’s teachings were deemed to be heretical, scandalous, or false. Luther was called to repent and recant his writings at the “Diet of Worms”. His most famous words were spoken in answer to the charges, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, Amen.”
These words became the “battle cry” of the Reformation and changed the world forever. Martin Luther was a professor, theologian, author, teacher, hymn writer, and preacher. He translated the Bible into German, and today remains the single greatest influence on all of western civilization.
Good Good Father
w/m - Anthony Brown / Joseph Patrick Martin Barrett
I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like
But I've heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you're pleased
And that I'm never alone
You're a good good father
It's who you are, it's who you are, it's who you are
And I'm loved by you
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am
I've seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we're all searching
For answers only you provide
'Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word
Because you are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us
Oh, it's love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love
At first listen to this song, I felt a bit like I was hearing an old record player that was skipping. There is so much repetition, even in weird places like “I, I can hardly speak” that it took a while before I was able to get that out of my mind enough to look at the truths in the song. To be honest, even after we had used this song in worship several times, I was still apathetic at best. The whole song is basically summed up in one truth, “God is a good Father”, and I didn’t think it took 5 minutes to say that.
But one night, I was introduced to this song in a new way. Far removed from the worship stage or the rehearsal time, I was able to see how powerful this song can be in its simplicity. Late one night, I was driving home after an episode of the most tragic of circumstances in our family’s life. I was trying to console a member of our family who had just had his heart ripped from his chest, and nothing I could say would bring any comfort. For 10 minutes, there was nothing to assuage the agony…
until he plugged in his phone, opened the music app, and sang through tears the last song I would have picked…Good Good Father. Over and over again on the hour ride home, I saw this simple truth, in this simple song console and soothe his soul. Then I got it. It’s a pretty melody, and that helps, but it is the straightforward, elementary reassurance that our Father loves us unconditionally that makes this song a healing balm in certain circumstances. Not surprisingly, when I hear this song, it takes me back to that night, and that truth…
I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like. Everyone has ideas of who God is. But I've heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night. Perhaps a reference to 1 Kings 19 where God spoke to Elijah audibly? Perhaps the writer just thinks of God’s love for him in the midst of trials? And you tell me that you're pleased, and that I'm never alone. When we are serving God, He is pleased with us, and it is true, we are never alone.
You're a good good Father, it’s who you are, it's who you are, it's who you are. And I'm loved by you, it’s who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am. God is a good Father to His children, and we are loved, not because of who we are, but because He chose to love us. There is nothing in us that is deserving of His love.
I've seen many searching for answers far and wide, but I know we're all searching for answers only you provide. Some say, “When there are no other answers, turn to God”. That’s terrible advice. We should be turned to God before the questions are even asked. Why seek anywhere else? It’s when we seek other places for answers that we are let down. God provides all we need in His Word, and we should be enveloped in it daily.
Cause you know just what we need, before we say a word. One of the great things about serving a sovereign God is that He not only knows what we need before we ask, He knew what we would need before day one of creation.
You are perfect in all of your ways to us. Some have take exception to the vagueness of the “to us” as it could mean several things, but I think it’s clear the writer means “in His dealings with us”, God is perfect. Romans 8 says He works all things together for His children (Those whom He loves and are called according to His purpose).
Oh, it's love so undeniable I, I can hardly speak. Peace so unexplainable I, I can hardly think. This verse speaks of being overwhelmed by God’s love and the peace He brings.
As you call me deeper still into love. The more we go through these heart-wrenching circumstances in life, the more we find His love is faithful. The goal is that each time a new trial comes, we’ll be more and more prepared to trust in His love and obey His direction.
Bill Itzel has been a worship leader and singer/songwriter for almost 30 years and is based in Westminster, MD. His family tours and leads worship, not only in their home church (Mt. Airy Bible Church), but around the country. This is a blog about congregational worship and the latest news in the The Itzel's ministry.