Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Reformation Day! (Reformation & Solas History)

I plan on re-posting this every year on October 31st. My husband did a great job writing this post and it is such a blessing knowing how the Reformation changed our lives.

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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Kenya is SIX!!!!

This little baby 

is now SIX!!!

Happy Birthday Kenya Grace we love you to the moon and back!