October 31, 1517…A day that will forever remain in the annals of Almighty God as surpassingly important. That day saw Martin Luther affix his 95 theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (Church) at Wittenberg. Within 30 days word had spread throughout Germany and the Protestant Reformation was coming into bloom. Doctrines and principles of God's Word, long covered over by the traditions and ceremonial encrustations of the medieval church, again came into prominence. John Calvin particularly carried this out with thoroughness, ordering that the altars (the center of the Latin mass) be removed from the churches and that a pulpit with a Bible on it be placed at the center of the building.
The Reformation brought the church back to some of the most basic fundamentals of Biblical faith. These are part of our heritage, consider them:
- Sola Scriptura (only the Scriptures). There was a great new emphasis placed on the Scriptures as the sole authority for faith and practice. Martin Luther said, "The Scriptures have never erred...The Scriptures cannot err." Then in his straightforward manner he added, “...it only appears so to the senseless 2 and obdurate hypocrites."
- Sola Gratia (by grace alone). Salvation was once again to be taught as being by God's grace alone and totally apart from human merit. Augustus Toplady later expressed it thusly:
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked came to Thee for dress,
Helpless, look to Thee from grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
- Sola Fide (by faith alone}. The emphasis is that salvation is by faith not by works.
- Sola Christo (by Christ alone}. Salvation comes only through the atoning, substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. He provided salvation. He alone saves.
Generally speaking, we are a people who love celebration. ..Christmas, Easter, holidays, birthdays, and so on. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we would celebrate the birthday of the Reformation, holding it in high regard and giving gratitude to God, rather than some of the other "celebrations" that occur around October 31? It is worth considering!
In the cross-ties,