Continuing the Reformation

Continuing the Reformation

Reformation

Today marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. While some look at the Reformation as a blight upon church history, others regard it as the resurgence of sound doctrine and practice.

And Courageous Theology seeks to bridge the gap between right doctrine and right practice. Obviously, we would be remiss not to celebrate.

It is important for us not to characterize the reformers as infallible—they most certainly were not. They were, however, bent toward restoring the church (that is the universal bride of Christ) to her right standing. The church of Rome was corrupt, greedy, and anathema. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, he was simply calling for a dialogue. What sparked instead was a Reformation, summed up in five solas.

Sola Scriptura

The foundation of the Reformation, Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) served to refocus the church onto the infallible word of God. Scripture, not Rome or any ecumenical rule, were to be the final authority for all Christian life. What Sola Scriptura doesn’t mean, however, is that scripture is the lone authority, but that through it we are to judge all others. The Bible is the source of all our theological knowledge. All 66 books are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and he gives us the ability to understand it and obey.

One of my favorite quotes concerning divine revelation and The Bible comes from the Puritan John Owen, “If private revelations agree with scripture, they are unnecessary; if they disagree, they are false.” There is no additional need for revelation, nor is there need for additional doctrine, other than what is found in God’s word.

Sola Fide

Sola Fide (Faith Alone) stands markedly against the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. That is not to say that Rome does not promote faith, but faith plus works. The reformers stood against this by teaching that fallen man is justified only through faith in Christ. It is only by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that we can find any hope. It was a return to Romans 8:33-34, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is he who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” God is the only one who has the ability to justify, through Christ. No justification can come by our works or obedience.

Further, in Ephesians 2:8 Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” We will revisit this verse again, but Paul plainly teaches here that it is through faith we are saved, by grace. Hard to argue with scripture here as teaching anything else. Which leads us to…

Sola Gratia

Sola Fide and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) go hand-in-hand to describe how it is we are justified.

As already mentioned in Ephesians 2:8, it is “by grace…through faith,” that we are saved. God’s grace is sufficient to provide for us the faith for salvation. It is only through the grace of God that we seek after His forgiveness. It is only through grace that we are able to recognize our sin. Further, it is only by grace that we can even have faith to believe. That is the beauty of the sovereignty of God—not only does He provide the ends, He also provides the means.

Solus Christus

Solus Christus (Christ Alone) teaches us that it is only through Christ’s atoning penal substitutionary sacrifice that salvation is granted. God revealed Himself to us in the flesh through the earthly presence of the Son. Jesus says in John 14:9 that, “whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” It is through this revelation of Jesus that we are able to see God’s redemptive plan.

Soli Deo Gloria

The main overview of the five solas can be summed up in Soli Deo Gloria (To the Glory of God Alone). All of the aforementioned points of the Reformation would be null and void without God’s glory. Everything in the universe exists and functions to the glory of God. It is for His glory that God justifies sinners. It was to God’s glory and pleasure that Jesus was our substitution on the cross. Not only that, as mentioned in the podcast episode titled “Rest for the Wicked,” all of life is to be lived and practiced to glorify God. Whether it is by the mundane tasks of eating and sleeping, or the extraordinary of raising children and working, all are to be done to the glory of God alone.

 Continuing the Reformation

Some want to bemoan the Reformation as unnecessary. Some others even wish to claim the Reformation long over. The unfortunate reality is that the Reformation is far from complete. We should be always reforming, ever aligning our doctrine and practice to the word of God. It is by His infallible truth that we should judge what we believe and do. Our hope needs to be found in Jesus, centered on His word, and focused on God’s glory. For it is by grace alone, through faith alone, achieved through Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, as revealed through Scripture alone that we can find all truth, life, and justification.

Don’t live as if the Reformation began and ended with Martin Luther. And it certainly didn’t end in 1517. The truths of the Reformation, as revealed through Scripture, are just as relevant today as they were 500 years ago. So, celebrate today, but remember that the work of Reformation in the church is far from over. Let the words of the hymn “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” be the song on your heart this Reformation Day:

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.”

Semper Reformanda.

Until next Monday, vale.

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