The 31st of October for some is Halloween, for most Christians it is just another day.
However, for many Christians around the world who understand Church History, our heritage and our debt to those who have gone before us – the 31st of October is Reformation Day!
We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. We did not invent Christianity, or even Christian Worship. We follow in the footsteps of flawed, but faithful servants of Christ.
The church suffers tremendously, when it forgets its history!
This year I will be in Auckland on Reformation Day as I am teaching a Old Testament Survey Block Course that weekend. As a result I will be attending the Sunday services at Howick Baptist Church (where we are moving to in six weeks!). It will be great to be there as they celebrate Reformation Day together as church family. (It would be even better if my family were going to be there with me. We are looking forward to be there, together, for this next year!)
A pastor friend of mine wrote the following a couple of years ago:
My concern regards the lost identity of the evangelical church in forgetting the Reformation.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a devout Augustinian monk, nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, Germany. Luther was still Roman Catholic, but his responsibility for teaching the Bible at the University made him aware that something was terribly wrong with the church. The more he studied the Scriptures the greater the dissonance he felt between Catholicism and Christianity.
What Luther discovered that initiated the protestant movement has been summarized by the five solas, the five Latin mottos of the Reformation. I would ask all my evangelical readers to consider, “Have we forgotten these truths?”
“Sola Scriptura” means Scripture alone has the authority to bind a person’s conscience. All ideas, traditions, creeds, councils, and practices must be judged by the authoritative Word of God. This is the basic presupposition of all protestant doctrine.
“Solus Christus” reminds us that Christ alone is Savior. Man’s sinful condition renders him condemned and guilty before God’s law. By Christ’s death and resurrection, He accomplished all that is necessary for salvation, and there is no salvation apart from trusting Christ alone.
“Sola Gratia” means grace alone is our only hope for salvation. Our sinful and rebellious inclinations against God pollute our thoughts, emotions, and will. We are spiritually dead and incapable of any actions that could gain justification or acceptance before God. Only the undeserved goodness of God communicated through the gospel opens the door of reconciliation.
“Sola Fide” expresses the wonderful truth of justification by faith alone. Justification is the act of God whereby He declares the sinner righteous on the basis of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Luther called this doctrine “the article by which the church stands or falls.” When the gospel is explained, the Spirit of God convinces sinners of the truth. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ can a sinful man receive the gift of eternal life.
Finally, “Soli Deo Gloria” teaches us that the purpose of God’s saving grace extended to guilty sinners through faith alone in Christ alone is for God’s glory alone. This becomes the life focus of the true Christian. The gospel shows us that we exist to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
Evangelical churches share this common heritage of doctrine; but sadly our pulpits and pews have shaken off the beautiful Reformation garment in favor of trendy and more novel pursuits. Reformation Sunday, the last Sunday of October, arrives and departs scarcely noticed, and the doctrinal intelligence of the church ebbs away, replaced by the shallow “pop” gospel of the religious market with no Reformation roots.
The five solas remind us that we live in God’s universe; a moral universe where God, the Creator, is absolute and man, the creature, is dependant and accountable. Perhaps if the church would remember, study, preach, and live the gospel heritage passed on to us as heirs of the Reformation, then the conscience of our national life would be pricked to recall the transcendent truths that birthed a free nation.
May we never forget those faithful servants whom God used to “rediscover the Gospel of grace.” May we never assume the Gospel today, and may we never stop the work of Reformation!
A very helpful article by Dr. Michael Haykin:
Here is a fantastic resource and one every Christian should download and listen to, at least, at this time every year!
NEW – Now available as part of the Classics of the Christian Faith collection. Find out more »
In the late afternoon of April 18, 1521, in the city of Worms, Germany, Martin Luther, a 37 year-old Catholic monk was called to defend himself before Charles the Fifth, the Holy Roman Emperor. The speech he delivered that day, Here I Stand, marked the beginning of the Reformation, a critical turning point in Christian history, that decisively altered the spiritual map of the world.
In this recording, Max McLean introduces the events leading up to the Diet of Worms: Martin Luther’s prayer the night before he delivered his speech; Luther’s stirring defense; the Catholic church’s rebuttal; and, Luther’s final heartfelt response.
Recovering the treasures of the past is a marvelous gift to the church. I love these presentations of the classics given by Max McLean. However, Martin Luther’s Here I Stand is my favorite. R. C. Sproul
Finally here are a few videos to help you prepare for the day: