Better known for Halloween in our culture, October 31 marks the anniversary of Martin Luther’s bold and courageous posting of his 95 theses on the Wittenburg Church door in 1517. The dominoes toppled from that point on culminating in what we know as the Protestant Reformation.
Last night folks from our church gathered for a family-friendly, interactive-learning, fun-filled and creative celebration of this oh-so-important date in church history. Many thanks to all who served to make the evening so memorable and worthwhile!
At the outset of the evening, I spoke briefly as to why I believe we simply must as a church shaped by reformed theology mark Reformation Day with some sort of observance and celebration. In a nutshell, it is because all that was recovered for God’s people in the radical departure from the doctrinal and ecclesiastical aberrations of Roman Catholicism.
We need only look at the five solas of the Reformation to summarize what Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Zwingly, et al managed with God’s help to restore to Christianity.
Sola Scriptura – scripture alone. We got the Bible back as the sole source of divine authority. No pope, no council, no confession, no creed can bind the conscience. Only God’s word can. Unless all of the above conform to holy scripture, we should bear them no heed.
Solus Christus – Christ alone. We got the gospel back. The real gospel. Instead of a Christ plus human effort – baptism, church attendance, indulgences, giving alms, etc., we saw recovered the only thing that will actually save lost sinners – the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Without the declaration of this precious truth, a so-called gospel is no gospel, no good news at all.
Sola Gracia – grace alone. We got sovereign grace back. This recovery goes hand-in-glove with the previous one. The Reformation recovered the majesty of God in His sovereignty and the glory of His grace in that due to man’s sinful condition inherited from Adam leaving him unable to do anything on his own to remedy his condition, only by God’s electing, calling, and justifying of His own good pleasure is there hope for any member of the human race.
Sola Fide – faith alone. We got the chief article back. This became the rally cry of the Reformation. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The Reformers never tired of declaring justification by this formula. Where would we be without the reformation restoring to us this precious truth: justification is the act of God by which he declares sinners to be righteous because of Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone?
Soli Deo Gloria – to God alone be the glory. We got the centrality of God’s glory back. The Reformation returned us to Rom. 11:36. All things are from God and to God, especially our salvation, so we must cry to God alone be the glory.
To my grief I have gone far too many years in a near forty year walk with Christ ignoring Reformation Day. No longer. Two years and counting. I am committed to this observance for as many years as the Lord will allow me to live. If you sing things like Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling, I would urge you to do the same.