From Noah to Martin Luther: Doors of Reformation

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Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, 500 years ago this year. The theses outlined the problems Luther saw in the church of his day, including such corruptions as teaching that salvation could be purchased or achieved. This momentous occasion is considered the beginning of the Protestant Reformation when the church returned to God’s Word—not man’s tradition—as the authority.

The Solas of the Reformation

The five Latin solas of the Reformation were

  • Sola Scriptura or “Scripture Alone”
  • Sola Gratia or “grace Alone”
  • Solus Christus or “Christ Alone”
  • Sola Fide or “Faith Alone”
  • Soli Deo Gloria or “For God’s Glory Alone”

One of these solas had to do with a return to the only source of truth—Scripture—and three had to do with how we obtain salvation—through Christ’s work and his grace by faith. This emphasis on Scripture and salvation, all for God’s glory, was the clarion call of the Reformation. A call for a return to truth and God’s grace. Five hundred years later, we still need to remember, cling to, and practice these truths.

Doors and the Gospel

Luther’s 95 Theses, nailed to a church door, were intended to point people toward the free gift of salvation. He wanted to call out the church’s misconceptions and untruths about the message of salvation.

It’s interesting that Luther used a door to point people toward the gospel. God has been using doors throughout history as imagery for the gospel. We use these “doors in the Bible” as part of our Why the Bible Is True exhibit at the Ark Encounter to present the gospel.

One of the more notable exhibits inside our full-size Noah’s Ark is the door. The massive door is built into the side of the Ark with a subtle Cross illuminated near the top.

Ark Door with Cross

You see, in the days of Noah there was only one way to be saved from the coming judgment—entering through the one door of the Ark (Genesis 6:16; 7:7). Those who refused to go into the Ark perished in God’s judgment on sin, but those who entered the Ark in faith were saved.

Animals at Ark Door

Fast-forward to the time of Moses, about 1,000 years after the Flood. God was again judging the sinfulness of mankind, this time of the slave-owning Egyptians. The final plague he sent on Egypt was the death of the firstborn male in every family. To be saved from this judgment, the blood of the Passover lamb needed to be spread around the doorframe of the house (Exodus 12:12–13). Anyone who did this was saved from the devastation of this final plague.

Doors at Passover

At the time of Solomon, 500 years later, the Israelites built the Lord’s temple which included two doors placed at the entrance to the inner sanctuary where God’s holy presence dwelt (1 Kings 6:31). As a reminder that sin separates us from God, only the ceremonially clean high priest could go through those doors once a year to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people (Hebrews 9:7).

Doors of Temple

Jesus used this metaphor to describe himself: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved. . . . I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:9, 11). Just as there was only one door into the Ark, there is only one “door” today—the Lord Jesus Christ who gave his life for us. We must go through this “door” by putting our faith and trust in Christ to be saved from God’s righteous judgment on our sin.

Shepherd at Gate

A short time later in Scripture we encounter another door, of sorts—the stone that formed a door before Jesus’ tomb. But that “door” was rolled away because Jesus rose from the grave (Luke 24:2–7), conquering death and sin.

Jesus’ Tomb

We now stand before two doors: the wide gate and the narrow gate. The wide gate is easy and many find it, but its end is destruction. The narrow gate is difficult and most miss it, but it is the way that leads to life (Matthew 7:13–14).

Wide and Narrow Ways

The Bible tells us another judgment is coming. Each of us must stand before God and give an account for our life (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11–15). But what answer will any of us have for our sin when we stand before the holy, righteous Judge of the universe?

Praise God, there is one way—and only one way (Acts 4:12)—to be saved from the coming judgment. Just as there was only one door into the Ark, there is one Door, the Lord Jesus who provides salvation. Just as the Israelites were saved by the blood of a lamb, we are saved by the blood of the Lamb of God (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:19). The doors of the Temple reminded the Israelites that sin separates us from God, but Jesus became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) so that our sin can be removed far from us (Psalm 103:12). Through his death and Resurrection, Jesus has provided a free way of salvation (Romans 10:9). But we must choose: the wide or narrow gate—and before the narrow gate is closed (Luke 13:23–30).

Jesus’ Crucifixion

A New Reformation

When Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church, he took a public stand for God’s Word, truth, and the gospel. We need more pastors, parents, and Christian leaders who will be like Luther and take a public stand for truth and the gospel. We live in a time when truth is considered irrelevant, and everyone does what is right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). As Christians, we cannot live like this. We have a source of truth– God’s Word (John 17:17)—and we must boldly share this truth with others (Matthew 28:19).

We at Answers in Genesis have a passion and commitment to encourage and equip the church to stand boldly on the Word of God. Our mission statement sums this up:

Answers in Genesis is a catalyst to bring reformation by reclaiming the foundations of our faith which are found in the Bible, from the very first verse.

We want to bring about a new reformation in the church—a return yet again to the authority of the Word of God from the very first verse. Will you join us in igniting a new reformation in our families and churches? Will you commit to boldly standing on the authority of God’s Word from the very beginning?

If you are a pastor or Christian leader, please join us October 10–12, 2017, for our Answers for Pastors and Christian Leaders Conference. This year’s conference theme is Igniting a New Reformation. You will be challenged and equipped to boldly stand against compromise and to shepherd people toward the Narrow Gate. Learn more and register on the events page of our website.

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