Cutting Through the Confusion

I was just reading Joseph Smith’s First Vision yesterday. He expressed so much confusion about how to sort through all of the contradictory religious messages. There really is an easy answer: It’s all about source. For some, it’s all about personal EXPERIENCE. Buddha sat under a tree and sought enlightenment and John Wesley had his Aldersgate experience in which he felt “strangely warmed.” Others look to REASON. For John Calvin, it just didn’t seem logical for John 3:16 to be saying that Jesus came to die on the cross for everybody, so he must have only died for those predestined. Some look to TRADITION, by which millions on August 15th commemorated the assumption of Jesus’ mother Mary into heaven, though they admittedly have no support for this belief in Scripture. A simpler and more sure approach is one that a young monk named Martin Luther stumbled upon five hundred years ago, in 1513. In the process of preparing lectures on the Psalms, in one of the Psalms he ran across the phrase “in your righteousness O God.” He had been taught to understand this to mean that to get to heaven we need to be righteous as God is righteous. Such a thought scared him to death, for who can be that righteous? Searching in the writings of the church fathers, he found many contradictory answers, just like Joseph Smith heard from some of the preachers of his day. So Luther searched though the Bible for an answer. Finally he came upon Romans 1:17: “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,a just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” It was like a light brightly flashing the answer before his eyes. Righteousness isn’t something se accomplish, it’s something God gives as a gift through faith in what Christ has already done for us and all people on the cross. As he continued to search through scripture, he found the same answer in Ephesians 2:8-8, and in Galatians chapters 2-3 (an in many other places). The answer that Luther discovered five hundred years ago was to LET SCRIPTURE INTERPRET ITSELF. Let more clear Bible passages shed light on the more difficult ones. By doing so, we find that our relationship with God is by faith (trust) alone in what Jesus has done for all people on the cross and gives us by grace (an undeserved gift). Rather than experience, or reason, or tradition, we find peace in Christ as we look to the BIble alone for our answers.

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