Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day! (Reformation & Solas History)

Yes, yes, I know you may have been expecting a Happy Halloween, but I wanted to talk about a different holiday that happens today that not many that I have talked to this past month are aware of,...Reformation Day!

If you are in a church where:
  • The Bible is read (in a language you understand)
  • The Bible is preached (in a language you understand)
  • You sing songs based off Biblical truths (in a language you understand)
  • Pray prayers (in a language you understand) and are Biblical in content
  • You are taught that you are justified by grace alone through faith alone by Christ alone
Then you are in debt to these men involved in the Reformation. All those things listed above, before the Reformation, were neither being practiced or taught.

Even more than that, on a non-religious level, we probably wouldn’t have the form of Republican government that we have today. A Democracy, capitalism, the sciences (as we have them today), educational system, and family life as we do today.

Sociologist Peter Burger said the reformation is the most amazing organizational achievement in the history of man, based on the network of friendships, and these men pressing forward toward the same goal to change churches and nations.

Martin Luther, who sparked the start of the Reformation, is said to be amongst the top 3 most influential men of last millennium.

Even if you just have the Bible in your own language, then you can thank God for the Reformers.

So what is the Reformation?

Since many don't know what this holiday is let me give this brief overview:

On October 31, 1517 a obscure German monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed a list of 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. He was protesting the abuse of indulgences in the church. In particular he was offended by Johann Tetzel, one of the Monks who had been sent out by the Pope to raise money for the building of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome.

In Roman Catholicism indulgences were a remission of a certain amount of time in Purgatory granted to the repentant sinner for a number of different reasons. One way to gain an indulgence was to go on a pilgrimage to a distant land. Today an
opportunity to go to the Holy Land would be considered a special privilege. But travel in medieval Europe was a major hardship, filled with many dangers - and a trip to Israel would only be undertaken because of the granting of an indulgence. To be fair we need to say that Roman Catholic theology required that the penitent sinner have a godly sorrow for his sins for the indulgence to be of any value. Tetzel, though, was going around selling indulgences as a “get out of jail free card.” He had a little slogan he used to promote his activities that went “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

Luther’s initial protest was not against the granting of indulgences but against abuses of granting indulgences practiced by Tetzel (and against the Pope's authority). It needs to be remembered that what Luther did in nailing his theses to the church door was not an act of rebellion. This was the normal method used by scholars to call for debate on an issue. Support for this statement lies with the fact that the theses were written Latin (the scholarly language) and not in German (the common language).

However, some enterprising students copied the theses, published them - and within a few weeks they were all over Germany. This was the precipitating event of the
Reformation of the church. The flame of reformation was soon kindled across
Europe. Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland, Thomas Cramer and Hugh Latimer in
England and John Knox in Scotland were just a few of the reformers that God used
to awaken His church.

The changes that God brought about through the Reformation were not merely
cosmetic. Though there were massive changes in the liturgy, the fundamental change was the recovery of the Biblical Gospel as seen in the slogan of the reformers -
After darkness light!

Another change that came about was a radical departure from the medieval way of interpreting Scripture. The church had gotten off track very early through the influence of Origen who promoted allegorical interpretation. Today we use the literary historical method which examines the text according to the literary form (such as historical narrative, didactic or teaching texts, poetry, etc.) and asks the question, “What did the author mean in this text? (This question requires us to consider the historical setting.) This change in our understanding of how to interpret Scripture was not just a reformation, but a revolution!

Often the Reformation is understood in light of the five “solas,” (sola being the Latin word for alone.)

Sola Scriptura - Scripture alone
Sola Gratia - Grace alone
Sola Fide - Faith alone
Sola Christus - Christ alone
Soli Deo Gloria - All to the glory of God alone

The scriptures were seen as the formal cause of the Reformation. It was the issue of
authority - the Bible or the church - that was behind the other issues in question. Was the Bible the only authority for all faith and practice or was it the church, as Rome said. The principle of Sola Scriptura did not mean that there was no teaching office in the church. It meant that the church must interpret the text according to what it actually teaches and not according to the traditions of the church.

The absolute necessity for and the sufficiency of the Grace of God in the salvation of
every individual was seen by the reformers as a critical issue. This truth did not come first from the pen of John Calvin. Martin Luther was proclaiming Sola Gratia years before John Calvin was even a Christian. Luther’s book, The Bondage of the Will, was written as a response to The Freedom of the Will written by the Roman Catholic humanist scholar, Desiderius Erasmus. Erasmus’ position (on this subject) was essentially the same as the Arminian position that is so prevalent in the church today.

Sola Fide was called the material cause of the Reformation. The material cause was the doctrine over which the battle raged. It was in the foreground while Sola Scriptura was in the background. The reformers said that faith alone was the means of our justification. It must be remembered that the Roman Catholic Church did not deny the necessity of faith. What Rome opposed was “faith alone.” The reformers acknowledged that true faith would produce good works, but said that those works
followed faith and did not contribute to our acceptance by God. We are saved, they
said, by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.

Sola Christus says that Christ alone is the meritorious cause of our salvation. Roman Catholicism said that while our works were not as meritorious as those of Christ, they did have sufficient merit that it was fitting to reward them. It has been well said that Jesus Christ supplemented is Jesus Christ supplanted. That is, if you add anything to the requirement of Christ alone for salvation, then you have replaced him.

Soli Deo Gloria taught that since the other solas were true, all honor and glory
belonged to God for our salvation. While no one would be so bold as to say that the
glory for our salvation should be shared and deny that all glory belonged to God, that was the net affect of the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. What the
reformer’s clearly saw was that the Bible taught that our justification was by Grace
Alone through Faith Alone in Christ Alone - all to the Glory of God Alone.

There was also an essential difference in the understanding of the doctrine of
justification between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Luther and the other
reformers said that justification was the legal decree of God that we were righteous
based on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to our account. (Abraham believed God and He reckoned it to him as righteousness). This righteousness, they said, was an alien righteousness, one that came from outside of ourselves. Our righteousness
was as “filthy rags.”

In contrast, the Roman Church said that in order for God to declare us righteous we must actually be righteous. This is sometimes called analytical righteousness - that is God analyzes us, and when He see’s that we are righteous, He declares us to be righteous. It was this teaching that so vexed Martin Luther. He used to spend hours in the confessional meticulously reciting his sins of the previous day but without finding peace.

Most of us have defense mechanisms that allow us to continue to function despite our sins. Luther saw more clearly than anyone else of his day that his efforts to placate a Holy God were useless. But, God broke through his despair and awakened in Luther the truth of the Scripture - “The just shall live by Faith” Romans 1:17.

In Luther's own words:

For further knowledge on the Reformation I suggest watching the following two videos that will give you a little more in depth overview: The Protestant Reformation 1 of 2 (9:29) & The Protestant Reformation 2 of 2 (10:43)

In conclusion I thank God for these men, for they revived the true saving gospel. A gospel that relies on God for our salvation not any works of man:

yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
- Galatians 2:16

Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith."
- Galatians 3:11

You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
- Galatians 5:4

Oh sinner, let me plead with you, trust Christ, there is NO hope in the flesh, no hope in your good works, no hope in keeping the law. There is only hope in believe what Christ says to do, to repent, and to trust alone in Him for your salvation.

Christian, let us not go back to any system that teaches a false gospel:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel
-- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?
If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel.
For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it,
but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

- Galatians 1:6-12

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, noone get's to the Father except through Him! (John 14:6)

Soli Deo Gloria!

jason d.


Anonymous said...

"Martin Luther was proclaiming Sola Gratia years before John Calvin was even a Christian... Erasmus’ position (on this subject) was essentially the same as the Arminian position that is so prevalent in the church today."

Let us not cast off our spiritual forefathers as if Christianity and the great doctrines of God came about only within these last two centuries.

Stephanie Rohloff said...

You know I will never forget when I was a kid and Reformation Day was being explained to me...They said "Martin Luther nailed the Theses to the Door..." and I thought they said 'feces!' I yelled out "Gross! Who puts poop on a door!"...I was a weird kid. :)

Jason and Vanessa said...

eqdj (aka Junior),

"Let us not cast off our spiritual forefathers as if Christianity and the great doctrines of God came about only within these last two centuries."

Yes, you are correct, to be clear I was only talking within the context of the Reformation period.
To be clear let me say that all these great doctrines was because the men were able to go back to the Bible and discover them for themselves. It was then that they saw the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

- Ephesians 2:1-10

Anonymous said...

Dear friends...thanks for the great scripture-inspired info on the reformation and the solas. I have been looking to post something like this on my blog too, but didn't want to pick something in random off the internet without making sure it was Biblical sound. Do you mind if I copy this to my blog, or create a link to your post?

Love you guys...we're praying for you and the girls always...
teri & dennis

Jen said...

Hello. I came across your blog through I am so encouraged by the things you write here, and I praise God for you! I am praying for you and your babies. I wanted to let you know about this wonderful organization I came across tonight.

I just thought you might be interested in what they do. I am praying that your babies make it, but also that the Lord's will be done and that He would glorify Himself. I don't know you guys but I love you!

Jason and Vanessa said...


I think you tell us that story every year, and it always cracks me up!



Yes you can use this or whatever you find on our blog, most of it is just from history books and podcast, I just didn't reference anything because this wasn't a paper for school just my little blog.



Someone did email us about a week ago that is apart of that organization and they live just a couple minutes from us. Thanks you so much for sharing that, we are excited about that photography thing.

Soli Deo Gloria!

jason d.

Jason and Vanessa said...

And for those curious, here are just some Scripture proof from the Solas:

The Five Solas of the Reformation:


“Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be held in awe above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.
Ascribe to the LORD, O clans of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!””
(1Chronicles 16:23-31)

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
(Romans 11:33-36)


“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.””
(Acts 4:11-12)
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”
(1Timothy 2:5-6)


“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.”
(Psalms 19:7-9)

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
(2Timothy 3:16-17)


“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
(Romans 5:1-2)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
(Ephesians 2:8-9)


“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
(Titus 3:5-7)

“But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.”
(Romans 5:15)

Soli Deo Gloria!

jason d.

Cindy J. said...

hey (no you don't know me :) )! I was wondering if I can have your permission to use this as notes? I'm doing a presentation in my computer applications class and I have to show that I can use "power point..." Basically I can do my presentation on whatever I want! And I chose the reformation! I WAS going to listen to a few sermons (listened to James White's brief summary... but I didn't take notes... idk why ) sooo basically what I'm asking is if I can use some of this for my pres? I'll give you credit for the notes!

In Christ,

Jason & Vanessa said...

yes, feel free to use it.

soli Deo gloria!

jason d.

Jason and Vanessa said...

This comment got deleted and I didn't know how to undo it so I am copying what it said.

This is from Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble

Greeting and peace! I think even we Catholics would agree that much of the clergy had become quite corrupt at the time of the Reformation. (What else is new, even since the time of Christ, ha ha.) But we would greatly differ on what was corrupt and what was not. The sins and abuses of the clergy were rightly condemned where they existed, and should have been (that is why we had the Counter-Reformation). But the doctrine being taught by the Pope was never corrupted (it continued the same as always), and where Catholics hold Luther to have gone wrong was when he came up with doctrinal changes which contradicted not only the Bible but the tradition of the Church since the beginning. Remember, the Bible does not condemn all tradition (2 Thess 2:15), and the only place that the Bible mentions "faith alone" is when James says we are not saved by faith alone. (James 2:24) Also, the Bible itself (which Catholics, like you, believe is inerrant, and which we have copied, preserved, canonized and protected since the beginning), says that the church is the "pillar and foundation of truth". (1 Tim 3:15) The early Fathers attest greatly to this truth about the authority of the Church, to the point of martyrdom. But, praise God, we can all agree that we are saved by grace alone! And that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven. Amen! Although we clearly have many doctrinal and historical disagreements (including much in this post that I believe to be inaccurate), I do appreciate that this piece you've run is actually much more charitable and fair than a lot of what is out there about the Catholic Church! For that, I thank you. :) Also, your new son is absolutely precious! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
By Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble on Happy Reformation Day!

Carol said...

Amen! Grace Alone! Christ Alone! Praise God for His atoning blood! All Glory to God Alone! He has done His work in my heart.