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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

For the Freedom of the Saints: A Reformation Day Reflection

“Theology, not morality, is the first business on the church's agenda of reform, and the church, not society, is the first target of divine criticism.” - Michael S. Horton

489 Years ago today, the world was changed forever. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg Chapel, I don't imagine that the events that followed were what he had in mind. As I reflect on the events of the Reformation and the legacy that it has left not only on the church, but the entire world, I've come to the conclusion that the sacrifices made by these Godly individuals that were raised up has been greatly diminished and underappreciated. Also lost within history is what these men were truly seeking to find and accomplish by their actions.

What They Were Seeking

As we sift through historical accounts, we see much talk about the Five Solas (Fide, Gratia, Christus, Deo Gloria) and Calvinism's TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverence of the Saints). This causes us many times to become way too obsessed with the theological jargon. It becomes like a finger pointing at the moon; we begin to concentrate too much on the finger and we miss all of the heavenly glory! In short, we find ourselves seeking out the seekers instead of seeking what they sought; falling in love with a system rather than the savior.

What the reformers were trying to discover was the unabashed truth of God's word, not through the authority of the Church, but through the Scriptures themselves. They all too well understood what had been lost in the during the Medieval era: It is the Bible that defines the church, not the Church that defines the Bible. The Holy Scripture, as reveal through the Old Testament writers, Christ and the apostles, shapes who we are. Forerunners to the Reformation, such as Tyndale and Wycliffe, realized this as well. This led to the biggest impact that the these men had, not just on the Church, but the World.

What They Accomplished

Luther and Calvin picked up were Tyndale and Wycliffe left off. Realizing that the truths of Scripture were not just for the clergy's eyes and ears alone, they set out to liberate the Gospel, by delivering it into the hands of every man, woman and child. All Christians were a part of the sainthood- a kingdom of preists. All men were to serve to the Glory of God alone, regardless of there position or vocation in society. And the only way that one can come to know God was through Justification in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ- not of our own righteousness. The implication of these central themes of Reformation Theology caught fire throughout all parts of Europe and eventually led to the establishment of Western Civilization by way of the Puritans. Needless to say the accomplishments were not without their failings at certain levels, but we can definitely see as we now stand in the present that these acheivements of their time, as well as the years that followed brought about great undertakings in all walks of life by men and women who had been changed by the evangelistic efforts of these biblically based principals. The liberation of the Gospel from the confines of a stingy, power-hungry clergy helped to set the world free by allowing the Gospel of Christ to spread in a most rapid fashion by putting it in the hands and hearts of the common people.

Reformed, and always Reforming

One of the biggest problems facing the Church in modern times is the lack of interest in its own history. It is important understand that God did not stop working in his Church at the end of the Book of Revelation. He has continued to work throughout history, up to the current day, and will continue to do so until the end of days. This is why a survey of the history of the past helps us to better understand where we need to be headed. The idea of reform is continual; we are always to be about the business of constantly seeking out the truth of God's word to safeguard us against error and heresy. The Church will continue to have its enemies as long as she is on this earth. Ungodly men and women will continue to attempt (and at times succeed) in creeping into our congregations and with the intent to spread another "Gospel" or a "New Law". This is where we must take a cue from our past. Every individual who confesses themselves as Christian should not take the Bible for granted. Search it to find out what God says in his word. Take advantage of the opportunity to study his Word freely and bury deep within your hearts. Sola Scriptura- Scripture alone is the authoritative Word of God. We must hold fast to it if we want to seek true reform and conformity into likeness of Christ. We must never forget that faith comes by hearing the word of God as made manifest through Jesus Christ. And if Christ has freed us, then we are free indeed...

Happy Reformation Day!!! Reformata, Semper Reformanda

Derek Webb - Lover (Pt. II)

Soli Deo Gloria,


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