I’m going to begin with a text from 2 Corinthians chapter 3 and verse 18. The scripture says, “ But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
If you read through this chapter of second Corinthians, yes and even the whole book, but especially here, The apostle Paul who wrote this is making a distinction between serving God in the Spirit versus serving only in the letter. The inside of the cup versus the outside of the cup. And he is making a comparison to the people in the time of Moses, who “had a veil over their face,” meaning that they really did not understand the gospel. Because of that, many of them were in disobedience to God’s expressed commands over and over again.
And yet, what about Christians today? I believe that the whole goal of the Bible is to draw people closer to God, nearer to God, through Christ. Yet if there is confusion of hypocrisy within Christianity, where God’s professed people are not living to glorify God, but rather living more like they don’t understand or even know the gospel, then there will be a great disconnect. And the rest of the world will not be drawn to God, because of the hypocrisy and contradictory teachings of the many and various Christian groups who value religious tradition over what scripture actually says. This is why God raised up reformers during the Protestant Reformation, Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, Miller…
Now you can draw people nearer to God through other religions. But ultimately, you’ll reach a sticking point. Unless you come into Christ. And then the sticking point is removed.
But, in Christianity, we have the same principle applied. Because, why are there so many denominations out there? For example, different groups claim to have the truth. “No no no! You don’t have the truth we have the truth.”
And Adventists, we’re really no different, because we also believe we have the truth. We believe we have a progression of truths… that came through these reformers, that were renewed by God during the reformation beginning, oh, about five/600 years ago, that had been lost sight of since the time of the apostles.
And what’s interesting is, y’all know about Martin Luther? Martin Luther lived in the 16th century. So did John Calvin. Two great reformers! John and Charles Wesley came almost two centuries later… The 18th century. In fact, right here in Georgia there are monuments to the Wesley’s where they landed after coming from England, in Savannah and also in Brunswick. You can go into the museums and read the different things about them there.
But, what’s interesting to me about John and Charles Wesley, is that they became ordained ministers before they really understood the gospel of grace. Yes, they didn’t know the gospel. These are their own words, not mine. They didn’t know about salvation by grace through faith. They were very high on the law of God. And they were very high on Holy living. Trying to, by their own works of holy living, make themselves acceptable before God.
And here is the reason. When the reformation began… let’s just go to Martin Luther‘s day. There was a struggle. You know there was a struggle. But, the people who accepted Luther’s teachings, they were free. They had liberty. Because they were accepting salvation through Christ alone, through faith in Christ alone. “By grace you have been saved through faith.” Luther taught that great teaching of being justified by faith.
You might remember the story when he was ascending the stairs in Rome. Called Pilates staircase. As he was ascending the stairs on his knees, a voice spoke to him. A voice that basically said, “why are you doing this?” You cannot be made righteous by your works because you are on your knees trying to climb the stairs in some sort of penance. And that text from Romans chapter 1 verses 16 and 17 flashed into his mind, “the just shall live by…” What? FAITH! Of course that New Testament quote originally came from Habakkuk. “The just shall live by faith.”
200 years goes by… between the Time of Luther and the Wesley’s. And the Church in England which had separated itself from the Papacy, because they had reformed, had backslidden. The reality was that it had only exchanged one supreme leader for another. The King for the Pope! And the nation was in a period of spiritual declension.
What did God do to bring the Wesley’s into an understanding of the gospel? Listen and watch my sermon to find out: https://youtu.be/gwrdXfu8dHc