Protestant Reformation 010Acts 8:35-39 • Dr. Andy Woods • August 20, 2017 • Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation 10
8-20-17 Acts 8:35-39 Lesson 10
Let me open with a word of prayer and we’ll get started. Father, we’re grateful for today and grateful for what You did for us in terms of God the Son’s death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection from the dead. I pray for the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit, that He would be with us as we seek to understand church history better in this session and understand the Book of Daniel a little better in the worship service that follows. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen.
You might want to open your Bible, if you have one with you, to Acts 8 and verse 35 and we’ll be going to that verse shortly, I think. Here we are in lesson 10 of The Protestant Reformation. And we’re looking at this, as you know, because we’re coming up on the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation, October 31, 1517 is when Martin Luther started probably something he never intended to start but it’s what we know now as the Protestant Reformation when he nailed the 95 Theses to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, Germany.
So we’re kind of looking at this event and trying to figure out what’s the big deal about it, what’s the significance of it, what’s good about it, what’s bad about it. So here’s the outline that we’ve been following. We started with the early church and the baton of truth that was handed off to the early church. And it became encapsulated in the circle up north, if you can see that red circle, the school of Antioch, which took prophetic material literally and that mindset reigned in the church for its first two centuries. And I’ve shown you a lot of writings from church fathers that established that. And sadly that mindset was eclipsed by the circle down south, in a place called Alexandria, Egypt.
Alexandria Egypt taught, as we have said, an allegorical approach, not just to Bible prophecy but ultimately the whole Bible. And I’ve showed you what they’ve done with the rivers in Eden and the gates around the wall of Jerusalem and other things, and we do not believe that allegorization is a right way to understand the Bible for the simple reason that you’re not interpreting the Bible; you’re reading into the Bible a bunch of things that aren’t found in the Bible so the authority transfers from the text to the mind of the interpreter. And we’ve carefully explained all of that. But at the same time the Alexandria Egypt method of interpretation became extremely popular, we’ve gone through the six reasons why it became popular and eventually it won the day. Eventually the church arrived at a point where Antioch and its mindset was no longer reigning but the mindset of Alexandria, Egypt was reigning.
So this plummeted the church into Roman numeral III, a period of time called The Dark Ages. And The Dark Ages is a period of time basically for a lot of reasons, including allegorization, the Bible is removed from the people. So the people, during this time period which lasted over a thousand years are basically at the whim of the ecclesiastical hierarchy or authorities, teaching them things like if you want to get Uncle Joe out of purgatory you need to pay the church or the priest the right price. And if you don’t have a Bible to challenge that you’re basically at the whim of an abusive shepherd. And this is what really riled up Martin Luther. He wasn’t the only one but there were others that were very, very bothered by this.
And so this takes us to Roman numeral IV, now we’re in the 16th century, the contribution of the Protestant Reformers. The Protestant Reformers are so critical because they restore to the church, in certain areas, a literal method of interpretation like that which had been taught in Antioch in its first two centuries of the church. And they restored to the church the five solas, which we’ve talked about, Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone, Sola Gratia which means grace alone, Sola Christus which means Christ alone, Sola Deo Gloria, to the glory of God alone, Sola Fide, faith alone. And a lot of the paid the ultimate price with their lives for doing this. So praise the Lord for the Protestant Reformers.
And most of your presentations that are going to be forthcoming in evangelical Christianity will stop probably at that point. In fact, they might not even cover one, two and three, they’re certainly not going to cover five through eight; they’re going to focus on four and look at the Protestant Reformers, look at how great they are and look at all the wonderful things that they have done, of which there are many.
But what I want to show you is the Reformers were flawed people, just like the rest of us and they brought with them into the Protestant movement a lot of baggage, a lot of Roman Catholic baggage that even to this day hasn’t been worked out of some of their circles. So we find ourselves in Roman numeral V which I’ve entitled The Reformers Incomplete Revolution. I mean, it was a revolution that they introduced but it was far from complete. So to kind of help us understand that we’re working through various parts here in Roman numeral V, I’ve made a few comments about the Reformers protology, doctrine of the beginnings, which has a tendency to be very good. They took the global flood literally, this was pre-Darwin so they weren’t under pressure from the (quote) “scientific” (close quote) world to rewrite the Bible the way Christians were in the 19th and 20th and even now in the 21st century. So when you look at some of the writings of the Reformers on the flood, the twenty-four hour creation days, the young earth, and I have to give them a thumbs up.
However, they were very selective in what they took literally and what they didn’t take literally. The solas—literally. Genesis 1-11—literally. However, you get into other subjects and they started to maintain the allegorical method of interpretation. So consequently they did not deal in depth with eschatology. Eschatology, as you know, is the study of the end, what the Bible reveals about the end. So they just kind of kept in place an allegorical hermeneutic and the allegorical hermeneutic in eschatology continues to reign in Reformed churches today. Reformed theologians think we’re almost out of our minds by taking eschatology literally. But once you begin to take eschatology literally methods influence outcomes. Are you with me on that?
Show me your method and I’ll show you your outcome. If you move into a consistent literal approach to the whole Bible I can pretty much tell you where you’re going to land on the map. You’re probably going to land in the young earth creationist’s camp somewhere. And you’re probably going to land in pretribulationalism, premillennialism, which is the doctrine statement of our church and other churches. But you see the Reformers just didn’t apply the literal method of interpretation to eschatology so they retained amillennialism which is this idea that Jesus is reigning as King now; there is no future kingdom because we’re in the kingdom now, at which point I say if this is the kingdom I’m sort of sorry I signed up for this deal because when the Bible reveals the kingdom I think it’s much brighter than what’s going on right now. Amen. I mean, I don’t know if in the kingdom people are going to go around tearing down statues and things of their history and their country… I don’t want to get into all that stuff.
But you’re not going to see racial hatred and all of these sorts of things that we see today in the kingdom. But amillennialists will tell you that we’re in the millennial kingdom now. So the guy that really got amillennialism off the ground was someone (as we’ve talked about) that was influenced by Alexandria, Egypt; Augustine, I used to call him Saint Augustine but I stopped calling him that after figuring out some of the things the guy taught. And one of the things that he taught in the 4th century, through a book, The City of God, is that the church, I have the relevant part underlined, even now is the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of heaven. That’s amillennialism.
Augustine is probably the most influential theologian in church history in terms of influencing how other people think. And here I’m using “influence” not necessarily in the good sense but I think he had a lot of negative influence as well. And you see, John Calvin carried Augustinianism with him into Reformed Theology in the 16th century.
So I think I’ve given you this quote from Calvin. Calvin says “Augustine is wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings. You go through Calvin’s Institutes and he’s quoting Augustine over and over and over and over again. So he’s admitting his literary dependence on Augustine. So he changes Augustinian theology in the area of the solas; he leaves it alone in this area of prophecy, eschatology, amillennialism. In fact, he called the premillennialism (which is our view), the school of Antioch called premillennialism chiliasm. He called it childish, and he actually said that if you believe that you’re bringing reproach upon the church. And that’s right out of Calvin’s Institutes.
So clearly Calvin did some great things but there are a few things he did, in fact many things he did that we would not jump on board with. One of these things is the refusal to apply his literal method, which God used to rescue the church in certain areas, he refused to apply it to eschatology. So he taught a doctrine basically called replacement theology which is not invented by Calvin, you can trace this back to Augustine and even earlier, that the nation of Israel has been cut off from God and all of the spiritual blessings of Israel have been transferred to the church. They never transfer the curses, I might add, they leave those behind with the Jewish people, those Christ-killers. But we have basically taken Israel’s place in the plan and program of God. And I’ve given you quote after quote where Calvin taught this doctrine.
We’ve even looked at some of Calvin’s commentaries. Calvin commented probably on every single verse in the Bible, with the exception of those books like Revelation that he didn’t write commentaries on. So you can look at what Calvin says about Old Testament prophecies related to Israel, whether it’s Isaiah 35:1, Amos 9:13, Zechariah 14:4, and he basically rewrote those passage. And he wrote Israel, like Augustine, his mentor, had done—completely out of the equation. [Isaiah 35:1, “The wilderness and the desert will be glad, And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom; Like the crocus.” Amos 9:13, “”Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When the plowman will overtake the reaper And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine And all the hills will be dissolved. Zechariah 14:4, “In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.”]
The D- Day for replacement theology was May 14, 1948. Anybody know what happened on May 14, 1948? Israel came back to life as a country. Now you see that happened in the news and all of a sudden you say wait a minute here, these prophecies look kind of literal and God seems to be moving his hand in history to restore the Jewish people to their land. And that’s why they go out of their way, these replacement theologians, to explain away the rebirth of the State of Israel. They’ll say God is not involved in it. There are two Protestant Reform denominations that actually as I speak are engaging in formal boycotts against Israel because the reality of the reborn State of Israel is contradicting everything that they taught, everything that they believed, going back to Calvin and going back much earlier to the 4th century to Augustine.
So Renald Showers, who is a very good premillennial scholar says this: “The Lutheran and Reformed and Anglican Reformers rejected premillennialism as being Jewish opinions. They maintain the amillennial view which the Roman Catholic Church had adopted from Augustine.” So a lot of people look at the Protestant Reformers as if they made a clean break with Roman Catholicism and that just isn’t the case. They did not make a clean break with Roman Catholicism in the area of eschatology. In fact, amillennialism reigns supreme in the churches influenced or started by the Protestant Reformers directly as I speak.
Barry Horner, if you don’t have this book I recommend it to you, it’s called Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged. It’s an in depth scholarly book and I just give you this quote from him. He says, “The inheritance from my Augustinian tradition that modern Europe received, notwithstanding the opposition of Melanchthon,” that was Luther’s assistant or helper, a very skilled man in original languages, “notwithstanding the opposition of Melanchthon and others to Luther’s excesses resulted in a continuance of an eschatology that upheld the essentially anti-Judaist Theses, namely the transference of the blessings formerly promised to Israel now given to the Christian church for its fulfillment. On a much larger scale the Reformed movement maintained its allegiance to Augustinian eschatology which essentially found authoritative expressions in the writings of Frances Turretin, 17th century, who studied at Calvin’s academy in Geneva and later taught there for thirty years. His monumental Institutes of Elenctic Theology became the of reformed doctrine. Not surprisingly his,” that’s the theologians following Calvin, “not surprisingly his quotations of Augustine are copious, even far exceeding references to Calvin.”
That’s what you have to understand about Reformed Theology today; they continue to hold Augustine in this huge favorable light and he continues to live in Reformed Theology. Consequently Turretin’s eschatology is almost predictable. Of course such a mass incorporation into church is to the exclusion of any perpetuation of the Jewish identity. In classic Augustinian fashion there is token recognition of Jewish individuality for a time,” that’s what they all say, they say well, we’re pro Israel and you say well why are you pro Israel? Well, we believe Jews can get saved. Okay, I believe that too, wonderful, but do you believe in a plan for the future nation? Do you believe in her wide scale conversion in the tribulation period? And do you believe in God literally fulfilling His covenants through that nation? Do you believe a time in history is coming where Israel will be the head and not the tail. Now you start talking like that and they part company with you real fast. But they’ll give lip service to Israel and basically what they mean is Jews can get converted but they’ve cut off what God has revealed concerning the future, nationally, of that nation. And that’s what Horner is explaining here. “Though any form of Jewish restoration was considered to be a gross form of chiliasm.” See, they mock chiliasm the same way Calvin mocked it and the same way Augustine mocked it.
“Turretin’s Institutes” that’s the theologian influenced by Calvin, “Turretin’s Institutes became the central textbook for Systematic Theology” oh-oh, “in American Ivy League colleges during the last half of the 18th century. It’s not surprising that the early theologians of Princeton” oh my goodness, “theological seminary highly esteemed, this most influential legacy and of course its eschatology.” [Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged, ed. E. Ray Clendenen, NAC Studies in Bible & Theology (Nashville, TN: Baker, 2007), 155-60]
Now Horner, if you want all the documentation in this he writes this book, it goes like 300 or 400 pages documenting it but what he is basically saying is replacement theology went from Alexandria, Egypt to Augustine, from Augustine to John Calvin, and from John Calvin into the theologians that John Calvin mentored and eventually made its way to the United States of America in the Reformed Institutions that the Reformed movement established subsequent to the Protestant Reformation.
We all know this, right, that Harvard, Princeton, Yale, those are like secular schools today that are hostile to Christianity but those schools were set up essentially to teach ministers how to be ministers, aspiring ministers how to be ministers. And what Horner is saying is the replacement theologists live and breathe… it was just as much alive in those institutions as it was in the writings of Calvin or Augustine because of this direct lineage that they trace back to John Calvin. So the Reform movement never corrected this problem. The Reform movement never took the literal method that they used to rescue the church is some areas and they never applied it to eschatological issues. And that’s how their churches are… with very few exceptions that’s how their churches are set up even today. So that, I think, is a weakness of Reformation theology and that’s why I call this the Reformer’s incomplete revolution.
Now something else to criticize and I think I’m okay criticizing the Reformers because we’ve said a lot of really nice things about them, haven’t we. Maybe not today but in prior lessons, I mean, I’ve talked about their contributions, I’ve talked about what they accomplished, I’ve talked about how many of them lost their lives, but if you’re going to be an honest student of history you have to look at everything. That’s why I’ve entitled this The Protestant Reformation, the good, the what? the bad and the ugly. We’re looking at some ugly things here that a lot of people kind of cringe and don’t want to see.
One of the things you find in the Protestant Reformers is this idea that the Roman Catholic Church, or the Pope, is the antichrist. Luther discovered that if you tell people, who didn’t like the Roman Catholic system to begin with, if you told people that the Pope was the antichrist that would preach. I mean, people liked hearing that. The issue is, is that what the Bible is actually saying. I mean is the Bible actually saying that the papacy and the Babylonian city and system connected with the beast, is that really Roman Catholicism. And I think, personally, there’s enough bad things in Roman Catholicism without having to make them the antichrist. Are you with me on that? In other words I’m not giving a hat tip or some kind of acquiescence to Roman Catholic theology, as you know I’m very much against Roman Catholic theology. But that did not give Luther and Calvin the freedom to just willy-nilly take prophecies about the beast and apply it to the Pope.
And even today there is a widespread view in Bible believing circles that the Babylonian city and system is somehow Rome or Rome-ish, and when people talk about the antichrist they talk a lot about the Pope and things of that nature. Well, my conclusion is that is not borne out by a careful study of eschatological passages. In other words, the care that Luther and Calvin used in the Book of Romans, for example, or the Book of Galatians, they did not exercise that same care and precision in eschatology. When it came to eschatology it was kind of like a newspaper form of exegesis; they just took prophecies and they didn’t use their careful method and they just applied it against the Pope.
So in their thinking Babylon… now who is “Babylon” in Revelation 17 and 18? I mean, I think Babylon means Babylon and I did my doctoral dissertation on this so I’m going to try very hard here not to babble on about Babylon but if you take that literally, and I don’t see why you can’t, Babylon is not in Rome, Rome is in the west, right. We need a geography lesson, don’t we! Babylon is in the east, it’s in Mesopotamia between the two rivers, it’s the exact place where Nimrod sought to build the tower of Babel and it’s the exact same place where the children of Israel were taken into captivity in which book that we’re reading about on Sunday morning? The Book of Daniel, all of these things are written in Shinar, that’s Hebrew, or Mesopotamia which means the two rivers or Babylonia or Babylon or modern day Iraq. That’s my understanding of Revelation 17 and 18.
But Luther came along and he said you know, those seven hills… by the way, let’s look at this for a minute; Revelation 17:9-10, this is where they get a lot of this. “Here is the mind which has wisdom.” This is describing Babylon. “The seven heads are seven” what? seven hills, does it say seven hills? It says seven mountains so just factor that in your mind, “seven mountains on which the woman sits,  and they are seven kings;” so they’re not hills, number one, and number two we’re told, now I’m a literal interpreter except when the text tells me that the hills mean something else, then I don’t take them literally, so I have a textual clue here telling me that the hills… well, it doesn’t even say hills, does it, it says “mountains” represent something, they represent seven kings, but what people will do is they’ll say look right there, seven mountains, what that really means is the seven hills, the seven hills of the ancient city of Rome and so that sort of factored in and Luther, you could see how he could easily take that and aim it right at his adversary, the Roman Catholic Church. And you can see how tempting that would be. But when you look at this carefully it never says seven hills, it says seven mountains and verse 10 says the mountains represent “seven kings.”
As you know from the Book of Daniel “king” and “kingdom” are used as synonyms; it would be like saying today the President did such and such; well, “President” would represent not just a person, right, but it would represent the entire executive branch of government. So I take these seven mountains are seven kingdoms that have in the past persecuted the nation of Israel. They are Egypt, you can study all of these in the Bible and you can see how they always persecuted Israel: Egypt, then Assyria, and then as you know from Daniel’s statue that he saw, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, that takes us to six, and then there’s going to be some kind of revived antichrist system in the last days, that will take you to number 7.
So what I’m trying to get at is the seven hills have nothing to do with the seven hills of Rome when you actually study this out with careful precision. If Luther and Calvin had done that with the same care that they used in Galatians and Romans they would understand that but they were really willy-nilly with eschatology. They just said we don’t like the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church doesn’t like us, look, here’s some prophecy in Revelation 17, we can make that look like seven hills and we’ll make it look like the Pope is the antichrist.
And by the way, in Revelation 17 the “woman” (Babylon) rides the what? The beast. You don’t have one image in Revelation 17, you have two, the woman rides the beast, Revelation 17:3 says that. [Revelation 17:3, “And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.”]
Now when you study this very carefully who do the seven mountains, they’re also called seven kings, who do those belong to? They don’t belong to the woman named Babylon; they belong to the beast or the antichrist system. So if you’re going to make the seven hills somehow connected with this woman named Babylon you have another major problem—the seven hills don’t even belong to her, they belong to the antichrist system that Babylon is dominating.
And I’m not trying to lose you in a bunch of myopic detail, I’m just trying to show you that when you carefully analyze this passage using the literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation this passage is not saying that the Roman Catholic Church is the antichrist. But you see, that didn’t stop the Protestant Reformers.
Revelation 17:3 says, “…and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast,” so it’s a woman rides the beast, the woman is Babylon, she’s a prostitute, she has a… it’s written on her forehead the name “Babylon the great, mother of harlots,” and so forth. And you’ll notice that the seven hills, which aren’t even called seven hills, seven mountains, later called seven kings or seven heads, are not even connected to Babylon. They’re connected to the antichrist system that the woman is riding on.
And a lot of people say well, let’s make both of these images, the woman and the beast she’s riding, let’s just make them Rome. Well, you have a big problem there because the beast destroys the woman in that chapter. So if they’re both Rome is Rome destroying Rome? That doesn’t make any sense at all, does it? So exegetically I think it’s almost impossible to say that the Roman Catholic system, based on Revelation 17, is the antichrist and the city of Babylon in the last days.
But notice what Luther says here, and by the way, look at the title of this book, Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil. That’s one of the things I like about these Protestant Reformers, they have these direct statements and direct titles of books. And he writes in here: “No man can believe what an abomination the papacy is. A Christian does not have to be of low intelligence either to recognize it.” If you don’t think my way, he’s saying, you’re not that smart. “God Himself must deride him in the hellish fire and our Lord Jesus Christ, Spiritual gift. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, “will slay with the breath of His mouth and destroy him by His glorious coming.” Close quote. “I only deride, with my own weak derision, so that those who now live and those who will come after us should know what I have thought of the Pope, the damned antichrist” see that, “and so that whoever wishes to be a Christian may be warned against such abominations.” [Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil,” in Luther’s Works, ed. Eric. W. Gritsch (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1966), 273-74.]
So you see what Luther is doing here? He’s taking texts without really being careful with them, without literally construing them and just redirecting them against his opponents, the Roman Catholic Church. Now Luther would have never done something like that in Galatians or Romans or the careful method he used to restore the five solas to the church.
John Calvin, in his Institutes, basically does the same thing, follows exactly what Luther does. I don’t know if I need to read this whole quote to you, you have it there if you want to read it, but he talks about that papists, and then he goes into some prophecies here about the antichrist. Daniel 9:27 and Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 foretold that the antichrist would come and sit in the temple of God with us. It is the Roman pontiff, we make the leader and standard bearer of that wicked and abominable kingdom. So it’s the Pope that’s the fulfillment of these antichrist prophecies. And then he says at the end of this paragraph, “there we see the face of Babylon rather than that of the Holy City of God.” [Calvin, Institutes, IV, ii, 12.]
So let’s just take all of these eschatological passages about the antichrist and Babylon and the last days and let’s just redirect them without using careful Bible study methodology. That’s always tempting, isn’t it; if you don’t like somebody, you disagree with somebody, well let’s just make them the antichrist. And that’s basically what Luther and Calvin did and that was wildly popular with the people. But it kind of demonstrates the lack of care and precision that the Reformers used in the subject of Bible prophecy or eschatology.
And this view that the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope is the antichrist, this view is alive today. In fact, Dave Hunt, who is now with the Lord (so he knows better now, right, he’s with the Lord, the Lord is straightening out his theology) Dave Hunt who I like, who Anne and I met personally and had meals with and so forth, Dave Hunt wrote a whole book called A Woman Rides the Beast, and it’s a book about the Catholic Church and it’s a wonderful book if you want to learn about the problems with the Roman Catholic Church theologically I recommend it. However, it’s a terrible book to teach you how to interpret the Book of Revelation. So Dave Hunt followed exactly what Calvin did; he followed exactly what Luther did, he just took prophecies related to people that he was in opposition to and directed them against his opponents, I think in sort of a sloppy cavalier kind of way. And even today if you go around and interview people who do you think Babylon is they’ll start talking about these seven hills and the Roman Catholic papacy and system and Roman Catholic Church.
I think this is a problem that the Reformers have handed us. We have a lot of corrections we have to make in eschatology because of the Reformers not following their careful method of precision in eschatology. AND going beyond that, the Protestant Reformers dragged vestiges of Roman Catholicism with them into their new Protestant and Reformed churches. It is… and people think this way because of the way this subject has been taught, they think the Reformers made a clean break with Roman Catholicism. That is naïve to think that way. They did NOT make a clean break with Roman Catholicism. They dragged a lot of inerrant baggage with them which we do also, don’t we? Do you think that when you get saved your mind is completely purified? I mean, you’re a new creature in Christ but you’ve had a lifetime of thinking wrongly. Right?
And that’s why there’s the biblical command in Romans 12:2 to do what with our minds? Renew them. [Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”] And see, a lot of Christians, they don’t go through that renewal process because they have never submitted to discipleship or they’re in churches that really don’t teach the whole counsel of God’s Word and so they start carrying a lot of junk with them.
And I know several ministries that are ministries that are set up by former Catholics and by former Muslims to expose the false teaching of Roman Catholicism and to expose the false teaching of Islam because people that started those ministries came from those bad theologies so they have set up whole ministries to expose those false doctrines. If you start listening to what they’re saying and they kind of sound Roman Catholic themselves, and they kind of sound works oriented themselves, just like Islam that they supposedly left. So they made a break in an area or two but the mind has never been fully renewed; a lot of them don’t really understand the principles of grace and they start quoting passages out of context that preach a works oriented gospel and they start sounding a lot like the false teachings that they’ve left behind and are trying to expose.
And that’s the significance of Romans 12:2, how we need to submit to the process of mental renewal through a perpetual intake of God’s Word because unless you do that your mind is not just going to stop thinking the way it used to think; you’re dragging a bunch of stuff with you into Christianity. And that’s basically what you have with these Protestant Reformers; they did some wonderful things and made some wonderful contributions and I praise the Lord for that but the fact of the matter is they brought in a lot of junk that had to be corrected by subsequent generations and I’ll make you aware of some of those subsequent generations in a later study.
And the verse I like to use to illustrate this, I just use this for illustrative purposes, is Daniel 7:12. It says, “As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.” And you might remember we commented on this when we were in Daniel 7. It’s talking about how Persia overthrew Babylon but did the Babylonian system just die? No it didn’t, it continued to live in the new political Persian empire. It just lived spiritually. Then Greece comes along and Greece conquers Persia; now did the Persian and Babylonian systems just die? No they didn’t, they continued to live in the Grecian system. And then Rome comes along and overthrows Greece but did the systems of Greece, Persia and Babylon just die because Rome overthrew Greece? No, those systems continued to live in Rome. Do you see that?
So historians will tell you this: Rome conquered Greece politically but Greece conquered Rome culturally. The language stayed, the deity stayed and that’s what Daniel 7:12 is talking about. And I’m just using this as an illustration of what the Protestant Reformation accomplished. It accomplished some great things but Roman Catholicism continued in many, many, many, MANY ways to live strongly in the mind of Luther and Calvin and the Reformed churches that they started. In fact, some of them I would argue are even Quasi Roman Catholic today, as I speak. And one of the things to understand about Luther and Calvin is they never wanted to leave Rome. If God had given Luther some kind of vision and says one of these days you’re going to start a Protestant movement and you’re going to be cut off from the Roman Catholic Church I think Luther himself would have been astonished by that prophecy because that was never Luther’s intention. Luther wanted to stay Catholic, they didn’t even know what Protestantism was, it hadn’t been started yet, it was sort of an unintended consequence, I would call it the work of the Holy Spirit, but Luther never wanted to be Protestant, neither did Calvin. I mean, Luther and Calvin had trained in the ministry to be priests and monks; they had no intention of leaving that system. The reason they left is they were given, what I like to call the right foot of fellowship. In other words, they were kicked out. Well, if you’re kicked out you’ve got to start a new church right?
But Luther never wanted to get kicked out; in fact, when he nailed his 95 Theses to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, Germany, he was shocked more than anybody else when people started calling him a heretic. All he wanted to do is sort of like your Facebook page, you’ve got something on your mind so you post something. And you’re sort of looking… you know, you want to push the envelope a little bit about something and in the comment box someone else will come in and write something else, someone else will write something else and before you know it you’ve got this red hot discussion going and you’re just trying to discuss something. That was sort of what Luther was doing with the 95 Theses; all he was trying to do was start a conversation about certain points that bothered him, particularly the manipulation of the sheep by the priesthood. That really got under his skin and he was trying to start a discussion about this.
But this idea about being branded as a heretic and eventually kicked out was never something Luther wanted nor was it really something that Calvin wanted. And so these guys initially desired to remain Catholics. So is it much of a shock that they dragged a lot of Catholicism with them into Protestantism? It shouldn’t be shocking at all. And one of the things that they dragged with them into Protestantism is the practice of infant baptism. And that’s why I had you open to Acts 8. We’re about ready to close and I’m just getting to the passage now. That was just introduction.
Acts 8, how does baptism work in the Bible. Acts 8:35 says, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.  As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’  And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” This is the NASB.  “And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him.  When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.”
So you see the pattern here? The pattern is the gospel is introduced to somebody, in this case the evangelist was Philip, one of the original deacons of the church at Jerusalem, he introduced the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch, if the Ethiopian eunuch believes the gospel the Ethiopian eunuch gets saved and then the next logical step after that is water baptism (which saves nobody) but water baptism is an outward confession of an inward reality. And so this little story here in Acts, you’re going to see it repeated over and over and over and over and over again.
First comes a conversion through faith alone, and then comes water baptism. So in no sense does the Bible ever teach you should baptize an infant for the simple reason, how do you know if an infant has ever believed? How would you validate that? I mean, I will baptize any infant that can come forward in front of the church with the microphone and give us their testimony about how they believed in Christ. An infant can’t do that; an infant can’t even talk so how do you validate whether that infant is saved? You have to wait until they come of proper maturity and proper age where you can ask some questions and explain the gospel to them, then they trust Christ and then baptism follows. See?
And that’s the standard practice that you’re going to find over and over again in the Scripture. But you see, the church at Rome, going all the way back in time was in this business of baptizing infants. So what does Luther do? He corrects the church in some areas but he drags right with him into Protestantism infant baptism. In fact, I was raised in a Protestant church where I was water baptized as an infant. Well, the problem is I got saved when I was 16 and I told my dad I want to get baptized and he said what are you talking about, you want to get baptized, you were already baptized as an infant, and he started pulling out all the family pictures and sure enough, there I was screaming at the top of my lungs as they were pouring water on me there in that particular church. And you see, I was following the biblical method; the church I grew up in was following a tradition which you don’t find in the Scripture. And that tradition goes way back into Roman Catholicism and here Luther is carrying it with him into the Protestant movement.
So this writer, Alister McGrath of Luther, said “He believed that ‘such sacraments could generate faith; and hence baptism could generate faith of an infant.”’ Now where in the world is Luther getting this idea? He’s not getting it from the Bible, I’ll tell you that much. He’s getting it from the long line of tradition that he had been handed down, training for service in the Roman Catholic system. In fact, in my… our recent trip to German there is the church of the Protestant Reformation; we were given a tour of it, one of the first churches that began in the Protestant movement. Luther himself was the preacher for some time in that church.
You might see over to the left there the pulpit which it’s not a very good picture of it, but I did get a picture of the baptismal font; now that baptismal font doesn’t look very big, does it; I men how would we ever fit out baptismal candidates into that font. Well, we don’t have one of these, do we Wayne, we have a Jacuzzi at your house that we use which is a little bigger. But we can’t fit our baptismal candidates into that font because only an infant would fit into that font. See that, because Luther himself, this is the church of the Protestant Reformation that started almost everything is in this business of baptizing infants. And our guide told us a really funny story about how he always wanted cold water to be used on these kids; you can imagine the shrieking and screaming, except when it came to his own kids then he said well, we need to raise the temperature of the water a little bit. Maybe you find that funny, maybe not, I hear a lot of silence out there so I guess you didn’t find it funny. But it’s just one of those interesting things of history.
One of the other things that the Protestant Reformers dragged with them from Roman Catholicism into the Protestant movement is something called consubstantiation. What Rome though up to this point in time was transubstantiation. What is transubstantiation? Transubstantiation is the idea that when you participate at the Eucharist, or what we call the communion table, you are literally eating the physical body of Jesus Christ, and drinking His blood, which means that at every single mass Christ is being what? Recrucified. Now immediately that runs afoul of the Book of Hebrews which says that the crucifixion of Jesus is a singular event, one time. But in Roman Catholicism not only is it a practice of what I would call cannibalism, it sounds a lot like cannibalism to me, but Jesus is being recrucified over and over and over again because of transubstantiation.
Now what does Luther do? Luther takes that doctrine, which is unbiblical, and he just puts sort of a lighter spin on it. It’s sort of like, if I can get political just for a minute, it’s sort of like this whole debate about Obamacare, all these politicians run on we’re going to repeal Obamacare, then they get into office and say well, we’re going to repeal and replace Obama care. Well, what is the replacement? Well, the replacement sounds a lot like Obamacare, you just tweaked it in a few places. Do you see that?
And that’s what Luther is doing with consubstantiation; he’s dragging transubstantiation into the Reform movement but he’s just giving a light touch on it, a lighter spin on it and the lighter spin is something called consubstantiation. So this writer of Luther said, “Luther denied the doctrine of Transubstantiation, rejecting any molecular change of the elements. Consubstantiation, a term never employed by Luther, is used to explain his view that the body and blood are present ‘in, with, and under’ the bread and wine.” [Emir Caner, “Balthsar Hubmaier and His Theological Participation in the Reformation: Ecclesiology and Soteriology,” Faith and Mission 21, no. 1 (2003): 42.]
So another way of saying this is the real present view, it’s not transubstantiation, it’s not we’re eating the physical body and blood of Jesus Christ, but what they believe is that Jesus, when the communion elements are served is there in a special way; in fact, His presence is so unique in that time of the worship service that He’s not there at other times. Now a lot of people believe in real presence because it is true that you sort of get a liver quiver, don’t you, when the communion elements are served, you know, it’s a special time, it’s a holy time, it’s a time of reflecting on what Jesus did and so a lot of people are of this opinion that well, Jesus is present during that time in a way He’s not present during other times. So that’s sort of a lighter spin, that’s kind of a gentler, kinder, softer presentation of transubstantiation that Luther didn’t believe in.
So he took a doctrine and just kind of touched it up a little bit without making it a molecular change in the elements. You see that? The problem is there is no verse that teaches this, real presence. There’s no verse that teaches that Jesus is present during the communion part of the service that He’s not present in during other times of the service. And people always like to quote well, “where two or three are gathered” pastor, brother, there I am in the midst of you. [Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”] Do you know what that’s talking about in Matthew 18? It doesn’t have anything to do with communion, it’s talking about church discipline. So there is no singular verse that teaches, first of all transubstantiation, or consubstantiation, and yet that continues to breathe in Reformed circles.
What we believe is the memorial view; Jesus said, “Do this in” what’s the next word, “remembrance of Me.” When Jesus says “Do this in remembrance of Me” he’s not saying you’re actually eating My body and drinking My blood, transubstantiation, He’s not even saying I’m there in some kind of mystical sense. By the way, the emergent church is really big into this real presence view. They believe Jesus is present in some kind of mystical way that He’s not present otherwise. That’s basically Lutheran theology. The Bible never teaches that. What it teaches is we do this in remembrance of what Jesus did. And I try to explain this verse every time we take communion, it is a memory device that is to be triggered by the bread and the cup; the bread would not be Christ’s physical body but it would represent His body. Since God works through symbols, what’s the symbol of the Noahic Covenant? A rainbow. He uses symbols to remind people of what He did.
When you look at the rainbow you’re reminded of His promise that He’ll never flood the earth again. When you take communion, when you take the bread you’re reminded of His body which was… now don’t say His body was broken for you, His body was not broken for you because the Psalms say not one of His bones will be broken. [Psalm 34:20, “He keeps all his bones, Not one of them is broken.”] If you start saying His body was broken for me you’re kind of demonstrating that you don’t know what that Psalm says. His body was sacrificed on my behalf, not broken, sacrificed on my behalf!
So you take the bread and that’s what you’re reminded of; you take the cup and you’re reminded of what? His blood that was spilled in our behalf. So we are reminded of the fact that salvation isn’t free. So we’re not partaking in His body, drinking His blood, we’re not even saying He’s present in some kind of mystical way that He’s not present in other times. But it is a remembrance through a symbol, a reminder. That, I believe, is the proper understanding of the Lord’s Table.
So we do not teach transubstantiation, we do not teach consubstantiation, we teach the memorial view. Yet Luther, for whatever reason probably didn’t have time to correct all these problems so he dragged Obamacare light, if I can put it that way, into the Protestant movement. And this is what you find the Reformers doing over and over again. And the problem with the Protestant movement is it never corrected some of these problems and God had to raise up others to correct some of these problems.
I think I need to stop talking. Next week we’ll talk about the ramifications of teaching that the church is the kingdom of God on the earth, which Augustine taught, and the Reform movement continued and if you think that, that has political implications because I’ll be showing you that Calvin took over a city politically in Geneva, Switzerland and put to death…put to death… PUT TO DEATH theological opponents. And we all look at that and say that’s horrible. Well, that is a logical outworking of kingdom now theology. And Augustine taught, and I’ll be showing you the exact quote, taught the same kind of thing. So there’s a lot of people in Christendom, left and right, that are trying to take over that city. I’m not of that camp; I’m not trying to take over anything; this is the devil’s world. The best I can do is slow down the progress of evil but take over… that’s different, that’s something Jesus is going to do when He sets up His kingdom.
All right, that’s next week. Sorry I talked so long.