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- Brian + Jocelyn

NEW SERMON SERIES OVERVIEW: Sundays 10/15, 10/22, 10/29


This year marks the 500th year of the start of the Protestant Reformation. The start of the Reformation is usually marked in 1517 by Martin Luther’s posting of the Ninety-five Theses in opposition of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther called for reform by “protesting” practices such as the sale of indulgences (a belief that through payment, prayer or other good works, an individual might lessen the amount of punishment they would otherwise receive because of sins) and other Catholic doctrines that had no Biblical foundation.

The Reformation, ending in 1648, would culminate in a schism of the Roman Catholic Church and result in Protestantism. This is important to us because we are Protestants, and hold to the doctrinal differences that set us apart from works-based faiths. The main tenants of Protestantism are as such:

  • belief that scripture alone holds the highest authority over the church (as opposed to church tradition)

  • that we are justified by faith alone (not by good works)

  • that Christ, in his life, death and resurrection, are the sole basis for our atonement of sin

  • the priesthood of all believers


Greg St. Cyr and Dr. Ken Boa will speak on this topic in the coming weeks, but their messages may not center around the words listed below. However, the words (justification and atonement) are central tenants to Protestantism and ultimately to understanding our Christian faith. They were chosen specifically to help you and your missional communities understand the question, “How are we made acceptable before God?” 

Be sure to delegate the words out to others who can research the word and come sharing what passages in the Bible reference and include the idea. Follow the narrative instructions as you tell, rebuild, and read about the words. Be sure to ask the key question and apply the idea of the word with "I statements."

Discuss with MC prior to Sunday, 10/22


Definition: Atonement, noun, in Gr, hilasmos (hē-lä-smo's) - the means of appeasing, a propitiation

Key Passage:

  • 1 John 2:1-2

1 John 2 uses the word “propitiation." Propitiation is the satisfaction of God's righteous anger, while atonement is the means by which the price is paid to satisfy God's anger. 

The key to understanding Biblical atonement is understanding both God’s justice and his love. First his justice. When a wrong has been done, justice requires that a penalty be paid. The Bible make it clear that all have sinned and fallen short of the the standard God requires of us (Rom 3:23) and that the result of that sin is eternal punishment (Rom. 6:23). God must be just, and this is where Jesus and atonement come in. Secondly his love. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son to atone for our sins (John 3:16). Someone had to pay the price for all of us, and Jesus did that with his death and resurrection. Atonement is the reconciliation of sinful humanity with our perfect God through Jesus’s paying of our debt.

There are several ways to view atonement but the primary way is substitutionary atonement, which means Christ substituted Himself for the penalty of our sin and by His sinless life. This ultimately was a worthy payment to satisfy Gods anger towards us. "Christus Victor" is another way of understanding atonement: Christ defeated sin and is the victor over all sin, death, and the enemy, thereby liberating us from the bondage of sin.

In a complete summary, Christ’s death on the cross paid for our sin (atonement) which satisfies God’s wrath towards us (propitiation) which consequently means we are forgiven and declared righteous (justification).

Additional Verses:

  • Hebrews 2:17 – Jesus had to become like us to be a proper atonement for our sin and then serve as our high priest to God
  • 1 John 4:10
  • 2 Cor. 5:18-19
  • 1 Peter 2:24
  • Mark 10:45

Biblical examples:

  • Joshua 7 – An Israelite in the time of Joshua disobeys God and faces a terrible punishment for it. This is an example of what happens when humans have to atone for our sin

  • It might be worth reading one of the crucifixion stories as a way of remembering what Jesus did for us – Matthew 27:32-56, Mark 15:21-38, Luke 23:26-49, or John 19:16-37.

Additional teaching resources: 

Discussion questions:

  • Why is atonement so important?

  • Why is it necessary for Jesus to bear the wrath of God?

  • What aspects of God's character are at the heart of atonement?

  • Why is the gravity of our sin so hard to understand or get in touch with?

  • What does John mean in this passage when he says Jesus is our advocate?

Application questions:

  • God loved us so much that he sacrificed his son for us. We’ve heard that so many times, it’s easy to take it for granted. How can we let the gravity of God’s love and Jesus’s obedience change our behavior day-to-day?
  • Do you think that Christ's sufferings were enough to pay for your sins? Do you rely on him with your whole heart for complete salvation? 

Priesthood of believers
Discuss with MC prior to Sunday, 10/29

STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION! Check back at 5 pm on 10/16 for final revisions.

Key Passage:

  • 1 Peter 2:4-10


Another piece to the Reformation is in regard to the priesthood of believers. The Old Testament contains two passages that prophesy a coming time when all of God’s people will be priests (Exodus 19:5-6, Isaiah 61:5-6), which would take place of the priestly structure necessary under the old covenant. The New Testament says those prophecies are fulfilled in the Christian church - that as Christians, we are a spiritual people and are called to "priestly service." 1 Peter 2:4-10 is the most explicit text, and Christians are called priests in five passages in the scriptures. If we then are all called to be "priests," the following must also ring true.

  • Every Christian is equal under God (Galatians 3:28) - although we might have different gifts, roles, or titles, we ourselves do not have different statuses before God
  • Each believer has direct access to God through Christ (Hebrews 7:25-28)
  • Each Christian can go to God directly for forgiveness of sins. No human mediator is needed for this forgiveness (Hebrews 4:15-16, 1 Timothy 2:5)
  • Each believer is free and responsible for reading the Scriptures and can trust the Holy Spirit to provide guidance and interpretation (John 16:13, 2 Peter 1:20-21)
  • Christians are accountable to God alone for living out the Scriptures
  • Scripture is complete and needs no addendum

“Historically, [Martin] Luther never understood the priesthood of all believers solely in the sense of the Christian’s freedom to stand in a direct relationship to God without a human mediator. Rather, he constantly emphasized the Christian’s evangelical authority to come before God on behalf of the body and also of the world. The universal priesthood expresses not religious individualism but its exact opposite, the reality of the congregation as a community.” - Paul Althaus

For Luther, the priesthood of all believers did not mean, “I am my own priest.” It meant rather: In the community of saints, God has so tempered the body that we are all priests to each other. We stand before God and intercede for one another, we proclaim God’s Word to one another and we celebrate his presence among us in worship, praise, and fellowship. Moreover, our priestly ministry does not terminate upon ourselves. It propels us into the world in service and witness.

John Calvin interpreted the priesthood of all believers in terms of the church’s participation in the threefold office of Christ as Prophet, King, and Priest. Specifically, every Christian is mandated to be a representative of Christ in his redemptive outreach to the world: “All believers … should seek to bring others into the church, and should strive to lead the wanderers back to the road, should stretch forth a hand to the fallen and should win over the outsiders.” In other words, the priesthood of believers is not a prerogative on which we can rest; it is a commission which sends us forth into the world to exercise a priestly ministry not for ourselves, but for others—“the outsiders”—not instead of Christ, to be sure, but for the sake of Christ and at his behest. For Calvin, the priesthood of all believers was not only a spiritual privilege but a moral obligation and a personal vocation. 


Additional Verses:

  • Galatians 3:25-29 “For you all are sons of God through faith… for you all are one in Christ”
  • 1 Tim 2:5,6 - “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for all…”
  • Ephesians 3:12 - “we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him”
  • 2 Cor 5:17-20 - “we are ambassadors for Christ as though God was making an appeal through us”
  • Hebrews 4:15-16 “we have a high priest who has been tempted in all things, yet without sin, therefore let us draw near with confidence…”
  • 1 Cor 12:14-31 - We are one body made up of many members, so that the body can care for one another (vs 25)


Additional teaching resources: 


Discussion questions:

  • How would you simply define the priesthood of believers?
  • Does the priesthood of all believers mean that role differences between male and female have been abolished?
  • How does Luther’s understanding of Christ’s threefold roles Prophet, King, & Priest influence our own understanding of the priesthood of all believers? In other words, to Luther, the priesthood of all believers means the church is called to be like Christ in His roles - prophet, king, and priest - to the world. How should we live that out?
  • With a better understanding of this concept, do you or can you view yourself as a "priest?" Why or why not?
  • How can we balance our approach to God? How can we manage the tension of reverence, awe and humility, as well as boldness and confidence?


Application questions:

  • How do you need to grow in the role of "priest" to others around you? In what areas do you need to grow in Christlikeness?


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