Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda (the church reformed, always reforming) is a phrase often used when describing what took place within the Protestant Reformation. In many circles, it has merely been shortened to Semper Reformanda, as the abbreviated phrase encapsulates a large portion of what many men, used by God, sought to accomplish by His grace through the Protestant Reformation.
Tomorrow is Halloween, but better than that, it is the 500th anniversary of the dawn of the Protestant Reformation. 500 years ago, a monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church Door in Wittenberg, Germany that spawned the second most influential Christian movement since the spread of the first church in the book of Acts (my personal opinion).
However, what is necessary to keep in mind is the motivation behind Luther’s leading. He did not seek to overthrow or abolish the Catholic Church. Luther was a good Catholic. He was trained in the ways of the church. A teacher of the church. A servant of the Church. But, by God’s grace, God began to reveal the truths of His Word to Luther that led Him to question many of the practices of the Catholic Church of the past, and of today. The Church did not practice salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The Church did not sit under the authority of Scripture, but sat as the authority over Scripture. The Church promoted the gospel + works = salvation. Luther saw the error being promoted by the Church and the oppressive nature of the false gospel they were selling. Yet, Luther desired to see the Church reformed, not begin a movement that might label him an enemy of the Church.
Through men such as John Hus, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox, John Calvin, and pastors of today, the Church is always reforming (semper reformanda). God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edge sword, and the Word is always purifying, sanctifying, and edifying the Church of God. What Luther began 500 years ago tomorrow is just as much alive today as it was then. Most of our churches, on most of our blocks, need some serious reform. When I say “reform,” I am not speaking in a “reformed theology” sense (although every church needs some good Reformed Theology), but I am speaking in a return to the authority of God’s Word sense. Too many churches have moved away from the Word of God. We have gotten soft with the culture and allowed rampant immorality to infiltrate the Church. We have allowed man’s ideas and opinions about certain things dictate what is believed and taught, practically tossing out God’s Word, or at least on controversial issues. If the Church in America survives the times we are living and survives the future, it will be a the result of a return to the Word of God. God will continue to bless His Church as they are faithful to Him. God will be faithful to us, but will the Church be faithful to Him?
This is a great question to ask yourself. If you are reading this blog, you may not be a Pastor, you may not be an Elder, a Deacon, or Sunday School Teacher, but you might be a Church Member. It is going to be all of the above leading the way to see God’s Word always reforming the Church. As the family of God, the body has many members (1 Cor. 12), and it will take all of the members of the body to carry out the will of God on earth. Do not let what Luther and the other Reformers started go to waste. Can you imagine what our lives would be like as Protestants if Martin Luther had not been bold enough to stand on the Word of God, even in the face of serious punishment and even death? Praise God for the Protestant Reformation and let us be a people that are Semper Reformanda!
I recommend Roland Bainton’s biography of Luther. Purchase Here: Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Abingdon Classics Series)