October 31, 2011

On the church-year calendar, October 31 is set aside for Reformation Day. The selected readings for the day are Revelation 14:6-7; Romans 3:19-28; and John 8:31-36 or Matthew 11:12-19. 

I remember very clearly sitting in homiletics class at the seminary and hearing the professor warning about using the words “I think” in a sermon. “You are not in the pulpit to share your opinion but the Word of God.” 

Proverbs 18:2 (ESV) says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” 

This in turn leads me to a Luther quote: “Nothing should be so deprecated, nothing so feared, nothing so suspected, as one’s own opinion” (What Luther Says, Vl. III 1445). Just how bad is one’s own opinion? Luther goes on, “This is the head of the body of sin, the ringleader of all the other works of the flesh, worse and more stubborn than all of them.” 
The Reformers fought against the opinions of popes and councils. Their foundation was sola scriptura, Scripture alone. Luther did not take his stand and face death as a heretic because he was defending his opinion. 

This foundation, however, eroded over the years until once again many in the Church equate opinion about what Scripture says with what Scripture says. Two mutually exclusive opinions can exist side by side in the name of tolerance. We can all “just get along” as long as you do not force your opinion on my opinion. As in Luther’s day, opinion becomes “the head of the body of sin.”

Sex before marriage, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, human embryo destruction, assisted-suicide—just a few of the sins in the body of sin headed by someone’s opinion. But before we do too much finger pointing, none of us is immune to the sin of opinion. For us it usually comes out either in thought or words something like, “Yeah, I know what the Bible says, but …” or “I know that’s what we were taught, but …” Our opinion and sin complete the sentence.

Fortunately, we have a God who does not have opinions, only truth. The truth is we deserve His wrath because of our opinions about His truth. The truth is, Jesus suffered that wrath in our place because of the grace of God. The truth is God poured His Spirit into our hearts to receive this Good News through faith. Saved by grace alone, through faith alone, based on the Word alone. No opinions allowed or needed!