Why Celebrate Reformation Day?

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.

For a couple of excellent blog posts from others on this Reformation day click here and here.

Why I Won't Preach on the Graces of Gospel-Shaped Community This Sunday

Well, it’s certainly not because I don’t believe that the series matters. I continue to pray that God will use our fall emphasis on loving community motivated by the impetus of God’s love in the gospel (1 John 4:7-12) to shape us into a people fiercely devoted to one another. I hope you do too!

But some Sundays deserve special attention and warrant given their historical significance. The next two at OGC are no exception. This week, on October 30, we observe Reformation Sunday. It marks the anniversary of the magisterial reformer Martin Luther’s posting of his famous 95 theses on the church door at Wittenburg on October 31, 1517. That daring feat unleashed divine tectonic forces that launched the monumental event in the history of the church known as the Protestant Reformation.

Now we are a distinctly reformed, baptistic, protestant church. We owe our existence and distinctives to the sovereignty of God displayed in this historical event. That I have failed to acknowledge this significant Sunday in years past (last year excepted) during my watch as pastor-teacher at Orlando Grace borders on the unforgivable. Shame on me for my ignorance and neglect.

Never again. I simply must preach on something pertaining to and emblematic of the significance of the event. And so I will turn to Romans 1:16-17, what some have called Luther’s text, as my sermon text in a message entitled How Not To Be Ashamed of the Gospel. I will undertake to show you five glories of the gospel that should make us all eminently eager to “preach” the gospel to the whole world, Jew and Gentile alike.

In addition to the special emphasis during the morning service on this theme, in the evening at the SDA, beginning at 6 PM, we will have a special worship/educational/fellowship celebration commemorating the reformation that you won’t want to miss.

Whether you do Halloween the next night or not (let your conscience guide), I urge you to enter into the superior celebration the night before that is commemorating a heritage without which we might still labor under the tyranny of Rome’s work’s gospel without access to the treasure of all five solas – scriptura, Christus, gracia, fide, and deo gloria .

For more insight into the history and significance of Reformation Sunday click here.

Not Just A Halloween Alternative

Tomorrow we observe Reformation Day at OGC.

Reformed churches of many types mark October 31 each year as the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in church history when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the Wittenburg door.

In the morning I will preach from Habbakuk 2:4b a message entitled The Verse That Launched the Protestant Reformation.

Then in the evening we will gather back at the SDA facility for a family celebration of Reformation Day for all ages.

We will assemble in the auditorium for an introduction and instructions. Then we will proceed to the fellowship hall for variety of kid-friendly activities in different booths designed to teach our children and families about various aspects of this most important event in church history. For example we will have a carpenter shop for nail hammering races, an alms booth with penny pitching, a Wittenburg door to dramatize the nailing of the 95 theses, just to name a few. Light refreshments will be served.

Then we will process back to the auditorium to conclude with among other things, songs and a special presentation by . . . oh well, just come and see and enjoy!

We owe much to the work of God in the 16th century that brought about the reforms that shape our church to this very day.

Let’s join together tomorrow in remembering and giving thanks!