1 Peter 4:9 (ESV) Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Hebrews 13:2 (ESV) Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Romans 12:13 (ESV) Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Credit where credit is due: I’ve learned so much about hospitality from Nic Burleson of Timber Ridge Church in Stephenville, TX. Nic is a “Release” brother, and fellow Northwood Church, church planter. Nic get’s hospitality. I try to soak it up when I’m around Nic. So, Nic, if you see familiar stuff, it’s because it’s yours! Thank you!

I’ve been known to ask our greeters off and on this question: What is the difference between a visitor and a guest? Do you know the answer to that question?

Why care about hospitality? Because God created a planet, put us on it in creating us, showed us around, welcomed us into it, allowed us to enjoy its abundance and put us in charge of subduing it and making it more fruitful. God himself came, in the flesh, and showed us his glory, lived sinless, died for us, then rose for us, to save us, to adopt us and make us sons and daughters. God did all of this to us and for us for his glory. We are recipients of divine hospitality.

I encourage you to think on the above passages and multitudes of others that put what hospitality looks like on full display…like Jesus washing his disciple’s feet.

Some thoughts for us come Sunday:

  1. Hospitality assumes you have invited someone who needs to be welcomed appropriately. That means everyone is a greeter…if you are inviting people to the kingdom to be introduced to the king. Don’t fail to be present or on time. If you do either one of those you may miss an evangelistic opportunity to be like Christ, make Jesus known and see the fruit of that labor.
  2. Treat people like guest not visitors. Visitors just show up. Guests were invited and planned for and expected. Show people you expected their presence.
  3. Treat them to a cup of coffee. Why do we have coffee? So we can be consumers and get a jolt because we didn’t drink enough at home? No! So we can welcome each other, serve each other, welcome guests and show that we serve and expect one another to be present and meet the Lord. Is it necessary? No. Does it display we care? Yes! Notice how we hang around, talking, sharing life. Do that with someone new or with a new guest this week.
  4. Think about what it was like to be new somewhere? Did people look at you funny, ignore you or take the effort to make sure you were “at home”? Make sure people’s needs are cared for. If they look new, they likely are, so go talk to them, offer them coffee, get it for them. Ask their name. Sit with them if they’d be ok with it.

Hospitality requires us to get “outside of ourselves”. Often it’s easy to be so concerned with “us” that we forget the “other”. That’s not Christ-like. That’s not hospitality.

You know what I’ve found? My weariness and frustration go away when I serve others. That may be God’s divine gift to people serving. Everyone be a greeter this week, and see if it makes a difference. When we show biblical hospitality, even those who are outside the faith and perhaps seeking to get in, will see a little more of Jesus at work so that when the gospel is proclaimed there were some walls already knocked down because we treated people well.

Let’s get after hospitality!


5 Solas: Grace Alone Through Faith Alone

5 Solas

Grace Alone / Faith Alone

The Five Solas:

Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone

Sola Gratia: Grace Alone

Sola Fide: Faith Alone

Solus Christus: Christ Alone

Sola Deo Gloria: Glory to God Alone

What do we see? What does it mean?

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us (Who is the “us”? See chapter 1:3-4)[1], 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (“made us alive together with is one word)[2]by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show (point out)[3] the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

  • “And you were dead…” This was the big problem with Luther. The RC Church said man obtains God’s grace by doing his best to be holy in addition to the work of Christ.
  • However, due to Luther’s immersion in Paul’s letters, began to dispute this belief.
  • At the Heidelberg Disputation in September 1517, Luther set out some theses that stated his thoughts on Paul’s writings clearly:
  • Thesis 16: “The Person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty.”
  • Luther believed in a post-fall “free will” but insofar as it is able to do evil. In other words, the will is free to do evil.
  • Erasmus would write his “Diatribe on Free Will”, and in response Luther would write his “Bondage of the Will”.

Grace “Alone”

  • Grace is: God’s undeserved or unfair favor in kindness to and strength for.
  • The RC Church was teaching that one’s standing with God was in Jesus along with one’s “merit” or “accomplishment” or “works”.
  • A person could do this by attending the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, confession, viewing relics, etc.
  • Another work? Indulgences: The selling of a Papal dismissal of a person’s time in Purgatory.
  • Through Jesus and these works they believed in the “infusion” of Christ’s Righteousness: Jesus’ righteousness was infused into us along with our good works to move us into God’s kingdom.
  • Problem? What does God think of our righteous works?
  • Isaiah 64:6 (ESV) We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
  • The RC Church thought that emphasizing “grace alone” cheapened justice and grace. The believed it would give license for people to sin. (We’ll get to that in a moment).
  • Enter Justification
  • We are not saved by the setting aside of justice but by the fulfillment of justice.
  • Jesus takes all of the Father’s anger toward my sin. Justice is served.
  • By God’s grace, the sinner has their sin removed and Christ’s righteousness “imputed” not merely infused. That is Christ’s righteousness is substituted for the sinner’s sin.
  • “Infusion” says we got some of Christ’s righteousness. “Imputation” says we get all of Christ’s righteousness in place of our filthy rags.
  • Grace is not free. Grace cost God everything. Grace is free to us, but it cost God everything. Grace alone highlights the price paid and the resulting riches for those who will repent and believe.
  • We are saved by grace, kept by grace and finish by grace.

“Grace saved a wretch like me, and grace will lead me home.” – John Newton

Faith “Alone”

  • Faith is: Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
  • πίστις pístis; gen. písteōs, fem. noun from peíthō (3982), to win over, persuade. Faith. Subjectively meaning firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality or faithfulness (though rare). Objectively meaning that which is believed, doctrine, the received articles of faith.[4]
  • Knowledge of the truth (information lands in the ears/on the senses) / Assimilation of the truth (making sense of the truth) / Personal trust in the truth (putting one’s hope in and acting upon the truth)
  • The RC Church taught that faith was added to good works.
  • In the Reformation, the Reformers asserted that faith stood alone as a result of grace.
  • In other words, we can’t contribute to our salvation at all.

“When the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where his is there I shall be also.’” – Martin Luther

“Here I must take counsel of the gospel, I must hearken to the gospel, which teaches me, not what I ought to do…, but what Jesus Christ the Son of God has done for me:…that he suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The gospel wills me to receive this, and to believe it. And this is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consists. Most necessary it is therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” – Martin Luther

Faith without Works…More Biblical Texts

1 Peter 2:10 (ESV) Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Hebrews 9:24-26 (ESV) For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Where Do Good Works Belong?

James 2:14-20 (ESV) What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

James 2:26 (ESV) For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

“Faith is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith.” – Martin Luther

  • Faith is not a work. Faith produces work.
  • Works are a product of faith or there is no faith at all.
  • What are works of faith?
  • Extrapolate out “Love God” and “Love Neighbor as Yourself”.

How Does Salvation Work?

  • Grace…the undeserved favor of God to get the gospel to my ears.
  • God puts it into the hearts of his people to want to obey the command to preach the gospel.
  • God’s people overcome great odds to preach that good news.
  • Grace…the undeserved/unfair power of God to make that gospel effective in my soul by taking me from death to life.
  • Holy Spirit makes God’s word effective according to his elective work.
  • Faith…the work of God to take a newly raised to life soul and bring about knowledge of, assimilation of and personal trust in the truth of Jesus’ Christ.

How Do We Obey?

  1. We have confidence before God that he is for me.
  2. We treat each other graciously, not making each other earn our favor, forgiving offenses freely.
  3. We have assurance that we are God’s children, and we don’t have to fear what waits for us after death.
  4. We have to do everything we can do to get the good news to the ears of people who need to hear.
  5. We worship.

Psalm 50:23 (ESV) The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; …

The worship of God’s people is the result of a thankful heart that does not take its rescue for granted.



[1] Parenthesis Mine.

[2] Parenthesis Mine.

[3] Parenthesis Mine.

[4]  Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

Sola Scriptura

5 Solas: Sola Scriptura…Scripture Alone 

The Five Solas:

Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone

Sola Gratia: Grace Alone

Sola Fide: Faith Alone

Solus Christus: Christ Alone

Sola Deo Gloria: Glory to God Alone

Key Passage

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.



Scripture as God’s Word Matters

We don’t have time to do a complete rundown of the Scripture’s use of the phrase “Word of God”.

  • In the Bible that phrase or similar appears 5,737 times.
  • This is how the authors of Scripture refer to God speaking.
  • God communicates…he speaks.
  • God told certain prophets / kings to write down his words.
  • Jesus comes referring to himself as the “logos” the “word” of God that is eternal.
  • What God speaks regarding himself, his truth, his law, Jesus comes epitomizing in the flesh as the God/Man.
  • Old Testament and New Testament authors make the claim they are not writing their own words but God’s words.
  • Theology is a combo word made up of “theos”, meaning God, and “logos”, meaning word. So, theology is a word about God.
  • Theology’s source document is Scripture, the word of God!
  • Where might one determine who God is, what he has said and what he requires other than what he speaks or reveals about himself? Scripture!
  • This is why Scripture, the bible, God’s word matters.
  • This is why Scripture alone matters.

“Sola” is the Key Word When We Talk About Sola Scriptura

  • The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is what led to all other principles of the Reformation.
  • The Roman Catholic Church believed in Scripture, grace, faith, Christ and God’s glory.
  • The Roman Catholic Church did not and does not believe Scripture alone is sufficient for the final say. The Pope is final say. They believe(d) that God spoke through the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
  • The Roman Catholic Church did consider Scripture, but Scripture was only one part of the sources to which the Pope was the final authority on what is right.
  • Often, in determining what was to be the church’s stance on an issue, the church would take what the “norm” of various provinces of the Holy Roman Empire, consider Scripture, consider church counsels, and the Pope would then issue the final and authoritative answer.
  • Luther said that the Scriptures are, “Norma, Normans Non Normata”. This is a Latin phrase that means, “The norm of norms that cannot be normed.”
  • Scripture alone was a statement that rejected the Papacy as a conduit of revelation.

“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it.” – Martin Luther

What does Sola Scriptura mean?

It means that the Scriptures, rightly interpreted, are the final say/authority on any subject.

Sola Scriptura does not say that the bible is the only authority that we ever look to, but it is the final authority. It has the last word.

If Scripture rightly interpreted, contradicted reason or experience or tradition then the Scriptures are right. It has the final say.

Why don’t we trust Popes, church councils, tradition, our experiences, reason or tradition as the final authority?

Human perception of what is true is broken without a clear and inerrant standard.

When Scripture is our final authority, we learn to bring our likes, dislikes, comforts and discomforts, reason, experiences and traditions under God’s word not the other way around. That is how we grow in godliness.

We Must Beware of the “Nativist Fallacy”[1]

Sola Scriptura does not mean that we don’t look to correct work, and correct interpreters in our history past.

Some people believe they are going back to the beginning and starting over and doing things “purely” with their bible by itself.

This is not possible. All of our Christian habits and presuppositions are shaped by those who have practiced the faith. There is no such thing as “unshaped” practices.

Sola Scriptura is not “Solo Scriptura”.

Scripture Alone is Supernaturally Powerful

Mark 4:26-29 (ESV) And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself (automate’), first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”


God’s word is supernaturally powerful!

How do we obey?

  1. Read your bible as the primary means of your sanctification.
  • Show me a disciplined bible reader, and I’ll show you a person whose sin is not covered up, who is fighting sin, and who is in community helping others fight sin.
  • Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV) For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
  1. Take confidence in your preaching, teaching, evangelism and discipling. No word of God sown will return without accomplishing God’s intended purpose.
  • Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV) For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
  • Scripture alone can and will reach the human heart.
  • Reformers: “Do everything within your power to get the Word to people’s hearing, and trust Holy Spirit to take it to the soul.”
  1. If we can build it without God’s word and prayer and obedience to God’s word, then we don’t need it.
  • This does not negate the hard work of obedience, but fuels the hard work of obedience in walking with the Spirit in his application of the Word.


[1] The language of “nativist fallacy” is borrowed from a conversation between Al Mohler and Kevin DeYoung on the Reformation.