Semper Reformanda

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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)

The Importance of October

95 Theses

October is a month of high importance for people across the world whether they realize it or not. It is the month my first child was born! (J/K) While it is the month that my first child was born, this is not what would be of high importance for most people, although it definitely is for me. Historically, October is the month in which has been credited with the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a German monk, nailed a collection of writings most commonly known as The 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany.

These writings of Luther were intended to begin a conversation between the Catholic Church and himself in regard to many of the practices being employed as a means of salvation, and his questioning them as unbiblical. What is interesting about Luther and his relationship with the Catholic Church, he never sought to overthrow the church or begin a movement like the Protestant Reformation. Luther had a deep affection for the Catholic Church, being a good Catholic himself, and his attempt was to see it reformed in order to align more precisely with Scripture. However, this did not go as Luther had planned and the Reformation had begun.

Throughout the years, we have accredited the Protestant Reformation predominantly to Luther. While credit should be given where credit is due, Luther was not alone in his endeavors in seeking a biblical church and biblical church theology. Luther did a tremendous work, but Luther lit the fire of which many men after him would fan the flame. Men such as John Calvin, John Hus, William Tyndale, and Huldrych Zwingli to name a few. In addition to these men, hundreds of others through the years stood upon the tenets of the Reformation and are continuing to stand upon these tenets today. So what exactly are the tenets of the Reformation that are so important?

While numerous theological truths emerged from the Protestant Reformation, many hang their hat on five truths that sum up the dominant theology. They are known as the 5 Solas: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (God’s Glory Alone). These 5 Solas are dominant themes throughout the Reformation and should stand as dominant themes within the modern Protestant Church, or any church for that matter.

It is the idea that Scripture Alone is our sole source of authority. God has spoken through His word and the church does not stand over Scripture, Scripture stands over the church. Scripture is sufficient for every man in their pursuit of God and is to be followed in every area of life. Salvation is then by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Nothing outside of the gospel is needed in order to secure one’s salvation. Ephesians 2:1-10 is clear in regard to man’s salvation as God makes man alive by grace through faith in Christ. The Catholic Church is inundated with ways of obtaining salvation outside of the gospel. It is not the gospel plus something that saves, it is the gospel plus nothing. Then, all of this is for God’s Glory Alone. Everything in life is for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” You exist for the glory of God. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, you exist for God’s glory as everything else in all of creation exists for God’s Glory.

This is only a brief survey of the Protestant Reformation. I encourage everyone to further their studies of the Reformation and dive into the rich history that comprises all of us that are not Catholic. It is by God’s grace that He has brought us to where we are today and we stand upon the foundation of men like the Reformers as we carry on their legacy in the Lord’s Church for His glory and His glory alone.

Soli Deo Gloria!