“The Reformation still matters!”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
If the church is serious about salvation, then the Reformation still matters. The Reformers of the 16th Century recovered the true gospel. It was not a matter of perspective. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, Cranmer, etc. stood against the arrogance of men who preached and taught a different gospel which was/is no gospel, CF: Galatians 1.
I was once told by a man who had been ordained as a Presbyter/Priest in the Episcopal Church for over 25years. He rebuked me by saying that the Protestant Reformation was a sad divisive blip in the history of the church! His incredulous, nonsensical statement was followed by and equally ridiculous charge: “We need to move on and get along.”
Sadly, this sentiment may not be stated so arrogantly, but is nonetheless practiced by so-called evangelical churches.
All true churches believe in the inerrancy, infallibility and perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture But practice in many churches denies the sufficiency of Scripture. Even in our own conservative and Christ-centered denomination, the desire to be seen as progressive and culturally relevant threatens to overshadow the gospel by “good intentions” seeking to wipe out perceived “social injustice.”
We all do well to remember and learn from the 16th Century Reformers, who themselves humbled themselves under the mighty hand of God.
October 31st marks the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. On that date in 1517, an Augustinian Monk nailed 95 theses of serious concerns re: Church practice. They were nailed on the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany in plain view for all people to read. That Monk’s name was Martin Luther.
Luther was appalled by the moral decay in the church, specifically her clergy. Luther sought to recall the church to submit herself to the truth of Scripture. To make a long story short, believers since the 16th Century have simplified the cause of the Protestant Reformation by two Latin words, Sola Scriputra. Scripture alone was the formal cause of the Reformation. Sola Scriptura is the greatest ongoing revealed truth that should motivate ongoing reformation in the church. All the Reformers understood that reform in the church was not simply a singular event. They all, in humility, understood that the church of Jesus Christ should be continually reforming herself in accordance with the Bible.
There may be some confusion regarding the phrase, “Scripture Alone.” It does not mean that the Bible is the only authority. It does not deny the existence of many human authorities. In fact, those who hold this doctrine affirm the reality of many authorities, Romans 13. Sola Scriptura means that the Bible is the ultimate authority. The Roman Church of the 16th Century had usurped God’s authority by placing herself over the Bible. Oh, they affirmed that the Bible had authority, but it was the church who would define that authority.
You may have heard in your church, if not you should ask why the following is not proclaimed clearly, we do not stand on the word of God; we live under the word of God. Those who profess Christ submit themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9.
I’m sure we would all affirm that the only way for man to know salvation is through the Bible, called Special Revelation that reveals the Person and Work of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Creation is not sufficient to give man knowledge of the salvation wrought by Jesus Christ. It’s not that Creation is deficient. It is that all men are born dead in sin and thereby are unable to save themselves unless God condescends to act. The Bible teaches that God does act. He extends mercy to some and passes over others, Romans 9:15. He extends mercy to those whom He chose before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4-5.
The Church does not have the right to preach and teach any deviation of biblical truth. The Church’s authority is a granted authority. The Church only has valid authority as she stands under God’s word. Any other exercise of authority is invalid. Further it a demonstration of hubris.
May this year, 2017, stick in your mind as a constant reminder of the truth of the gospel, revealed and received by God’s grace. May this Anniversary Year cause you to stand in the one true gospel, salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! Soli Deo Gloria – To God Alone be Glory.