October 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This theological revolution is largely ignored and forgotten, not just in our secular culture, but more tragically in an increasingly confused and compromised Church.
At the Reformation’s heart was the question, “How are sinful men and women made right with God?” It was this that preoccupied Martin Luther and caused him great agony of soul. When he came to discover that justification is not a process involving good deeds, but an act of God accounting the work of Christ to the sinner that receives Him, he declared: “I felt myself straightway born afresh and to have entered through the open gates into paradise itself.”
Around the same time in England, Thomas Bilney (the forgotten Reformer) read in Latin the New Testament translated by Erasmus. When he came to 1 Timothy 1:1
5, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” he realized he was put right with God not on account of something done by him, but for him. Justification is a once-for-all event of which good works are not a part, but a consequence. The Reformation declared that authority was found in Scripture alone. In looking to Scripture, we find our acceptance with God. In Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone—soli Deo gloria.
Let me encourage you to follow up on this by studying for yourself. We are offering a really helpful resource titled These Truths Alone: Why the Reformation Solas Are Essential for Our Faith Today. It’s an in-depth study that will help you or your Bible Study group learn more about the Gospel truth proclaimed by the 16th-century Reformers. Along these same lines, our other offer, The Character of the Church, explains how to consider these truths when assessing local church membership.
The task of Gospel proclamation is not over. At Parkside, we often sing the hymn “Facing a Task Unfinished,” the third verse of which reads:
We bear the torch that flaming
fell from the hands of those
who gave their lives proclaiming
that Jesus died and rose.
Ours is the same commission,
the same glad message ours;
fired by the same ambition,
to Thee we yield our powers.