It has been almost 500 years. Yes, 499 years ago (on October 31st), Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, which started the Protestant Reformation.
Given that it is close to the 500th anniversary of such a historic event, I have composed "9.5 Theses" of my own to share with you.
I can only hope and pray that, within the next 500 years, these truths are embraced more and more by masses of Christians, as God has used these to transform the way I live and minister to others.
"9.5 Theses" by Andrew Farley
1. Today we live under a new covenant that began at the death of Christ, not at the birth of Christ. During His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke of a new covenant inaugurated at His death, and He exposed the true and impossible standard of the Law. (2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 9:16-17; Gal. 4:4-5; 1 Cor. 11:25; Matt. 5:21-30).
2. Christians have been forgiven "once for all." We are not being forgiven progressively, day by day or sin by sin. (Heb. 7:27; Heb. 10:10-12,14; Heb. 9:12, 25; 1 Pet. 3:18).
3. Christians turn away from temptation, and we regret sin, but we need not ask to be forgiven by God in each instance. When we forgive others without their asking, we mirror what God has done for us. (Rom. 6:12, 21; Rev. 2:5; Col. 2:13; Heb. 10:11-12; Col. 3:13; Eph. 4:32).
4. The Law serves as a tutor for the unrighteous (unbeliever) to show them their need for salvation by grace through faith. Once faith has come into their lives, the Law can serve no further function. The Law is not of faith. (Gal. 3:24-25; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; Eph. 2:8; Gal. 5:18; Gal. 3:12).
5. Christians are dead to the Law and not under the Law. Christ is the end of the Law for those who believe. The new way of grace, which is the ministry of God's Spirit, is superior and founded on better promises. (Gal. 2:19; Rom. 7:4; Rom. 10:14; Gal. 5:18; Rom. 6:14; 2 Cor. 3:6-8; Heb. 8:6).
6. The Ten Commandments are no different from the other 603 regulations of the Law in that they are a "ministry of condemnation" and a "ministry of death." Apart from the Ten Commandments ("Thou shalt not covet", etc), sin is dead. Only under grace, by the power of God's Spirit, can one truly avoid an otherwise inevitable sinning "of every kind." The power of sin dominates the life of anyone who looks to the Law. (2 Cor. 3:7-11; Rom. 6:14; Rom. 7:7-11; 1 Cor. 15:56).
7. Christians have been crucified, buried, and raised with Christ. Their old self has died, and they are new creations at the core. They have a new spirit, a new, obedient heart (not a wicked heart!), and they have God's Spirit living within them. (Rom. 6:3-11; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1; Ezek. 36:26-27; Rom. 8:10-11; Heb. 8:10; Rom. 2:29; Rom. 6:17; 2 Cor. 4:7).
8. The phrase "sinful nature"- a poor translation from the NIV Bible (1973; 1984)- has clouded the issue of Christian struggle for many. The Greek term "sarx" is best understood as "the flesh." We can set our minds according to fleshly (worldly) thoughts and we can walk by the flesh (in worldly ways), but these poor choices are not an indication of our spiritual nature. If we are in Christ, we are the new self, the new creation. When we are deceived into walking by the flesh, we go against our spiritual nature. We should not define ourselves by the flesh, the world system, or indwelling sin, as these sources of temptation are not our true identity. (Rom. 7-8; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 5:17; Rom. 6:12).
9. Christ literally and actually dwells within each believer. We are united in spirit with Christ. We are in Him, and He is in us. We are now compatible with the indwelling Christ, and He is our source, our strength. Living the Christian life is not living for Him as much as it is living from Him. We live, not by rules, but by letting Christ rule. It is a life of dependency and trust as Jesus Christ is our everything- not just our High Priest, not just our blood sacrifice, but our morality, our ethics, our source of goodness- our everything. (Gal. 2:20; Jn. 14:19-20; Jn. 17:22-26; Rom. 8:9; Col. 2:21-23; 2 Cor. 4:7; Rom. 6:5; Col. 3:4).
9.5. This does not mean that it is all of Christ and none of us. Instead, it is all of Christ and all of us in a beautiful union together. He does not seek to replace us (He already did!) but instead to embrace us. For the Christian, being yourself and living the Christian life are one and the same. Any action we are called to is merely a perfect, outward match of what God has already done inwardly within the lining of our spiritual hearts. Godly behavior flows from the believer's naturally obedient heart in an environment of grace and freedom. (1 Cor. 6:17; Col. 3:14; Rom. 5:5; Rom. 13:14; Rom. 6:17; 2 Cor. 3:17).