There are many values of Lutheranism that flow through the life of Woodland Hills Church. In this sermon, Greg talks about these threads and how they impact our way of doing church. Whether it’s sola scriptura or the faith/grace interaction, we are not alone in our use of Luther’s teachings.
Luther had a very important part in the development of Woodland Hills Church. We draw many things from Luther and the Protestant Reformation, and they define some of what we do in church. To understand the Lutheran thread, we first need to understand Luther.
Luther was originally going to be a lawyer. In 1505, he was caught in a thunderstorm and thought he was going to die. He prayed to a saint and vowed that if he lived, he would dedicate himself to the church and God. Surprise—he lived! He went to a monastery and started living the life of a devout, sometimes OCD, monk. After spending some years in that monastery, he studied theology in Wittenberg. It was there that he came to see the corruption of the Catholic Church during that time.
In 1517, he went public with his thoughts on the corruption, and he nailed the 95 theses to the door of the cathedral. This was thought to be the “shot heard round the world” for the start of the Protestant Reformation. His teachings spread like wildfire, almost cost him his life, and eventually led to how we see church here at Woodland Hills Church.
The core of Luther’s theology was centered on “the four alones”. He said that we are saved by Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, and ground on scripture alone. We at Woodland Hills Church also believe in these four alones.
Christ alone is the belief that we have direct connection with Jesus Christ. We do not need any intermediary like a priest or a pope. Instead, we can pray and have direct contact with God. There is no need for saints or any other intervention. Also, we all then play a part in the building of the Kingdom. There are no ministry people that do all the work but rather a priesthood of all believers who build the Kingdom together and everyone has a part to play.
Grace alone is the belief that we are only saved by grace through Jesus Christ. There are no works that can be done to get us into heaven. It is solely by grace through Jesus that we live in him and are a part of the Kingdom. Faith alone is not a belief, but rather a trust and trustworthiness in a relationship with God. We trust in him like a spouse trusts another spouse. When we choose to accept this grace, we enter into a new life where we then become transformed by our heavenly spouse.
Finally, scripture alone is the belief that only Scripture is inspired and God-breathed. The Catholic Church at the time of Luther believed that Scripture, Tradition, and the Pope were all on level ground when it came to saying what God’s word was and how to follow it. However, Luther said that only Scripture was God-breathed, and that we must regularly go back to it in order to find the true way of following Christ. If it’s not in the Scriptures, then we have to seriously consider it to not be the way of following Christ.
Our scripture has been manipulated throughout the generations, and it is our duty to not allow culture to steal the Scripture message, twist it, and make it seem like the message of God. A few weeks ago, we talked about the Stoicheion influencing the things of this world. These powers and authorities here on Earth seek to use Scripture to affirm their own beliefs and values, whether it’s the use of force against our enemies or embracing individualism and consumerism.
In these four alones, we find a significant portion of our thought at Woodland Hills Church. We do believe in Christ alone, by grace through faith, and solely based on Scripture. While we may not agree with everything that Luther did (and we don’t), there is a lot of good in what the Protestant Reformation and Luther contributed to Woodland Hills Church.
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