Called to Reform

     Who cares about the Reformation? The evangelical and conservative Christian contingent has been talking about the quincentennial since before last October and will continue talking about it for the rest of 2017. You would figure, since it has been 500 years, it would be old by now.

 

     We have heard the stories before: Martin Luther nailing his “95 Theses” to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany; John Calvin and his Institutes of the Christian Religion; John Knox challenging Mary Queen of Scots . . . so on and so forth. How much more can one possibly learn or even handle? Why base the 19th annual Truth and Life Conference on a movement, that celebrates these long-deceased men?

    President of The Master’s University, Dr. John MacArthur, in his opening statement Wednesday of the conference, explained the need for Reformation in that “there are two means by which Satan will attack the Christian and Church.  One, the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, and two, the uniqueness of Christ as the only means of salvation.” This statement became the basis for the rest of the three-day conference and the distinguished speakers: Tom Pennington, Steve Lawson and Paul Washer, each spoke to the five Solas the Reformation encompassed --- sola fide, sola scriptura, sola gratia, solus christus and soli deo Gloria.

     Washer continued MacArthur’s statements regarding the continuous attacks on Christ and Scripture in his message “Faith Alone,” stating, “there are only two religions: works and grace. Christianity is the religion of grace. God does not save man because there is some reason for man to be saved, God finds reason in Himself.” It would follow, then, that all other religious systems and worldviews are based on a lie --- a lie whispering that man can earn his way to redemption, which, at the root, would mean man is inherently good.

     This lie masks itself differently depending on the audience. For the Roman Catholic Church, Christ is “a way” not “the way.” Mother Mary and the saints are co-mediators with Christ, the pope has the power to excommunicate and damn a person to hell, tradition becomes law (reminiscent of the Sanhedrin) and man can earn his way to heaven through social justice.

     For those in attendance, a majority of them being in their late teens and early twenties, the lie is disguised differently. Pennington said a significant number of millennials substitute Scripture with “cultural consensus” --- the idea that if one’s peers approve of what they are doing, they are justified. In the world, truth is seen as subjective; success and purpose measured off fulfilling one’s dreams and doing what is most comfortable or brings the most pleasure in the moment. It is a “here and now” mentality disregarding the future and the state of one’s soul.

     Catholic or secular, Buddhist or agnostic, living now or 500 years ago, human nature does not change and Satan’s ploys for twisting the truth are not new. What MacArthur, Pennington and Washer said about the Reformation is no less applicable today. This is why Lawson called for a new reformation and in his last lecture spoke of the great reformers, Calvin and Knox.

     None of the reformers knew at the time they were starting a theological revolution. None of them sought attention but merely sought to challenge lies the Catholic Church were propagating. They sought to be faithful to the inerrancy of Scripture and the truth. They were committed to God and who He is, not who fallible man made Him out to be.

     We study the Reformation not because it is necessarily the greatest event that occurred in history – while important -- and not because those involved were infallible – because they weren’t. They were, however, incredible examples of people used by God to accomplish his purposes.  Men that remained faithful to the truth though, for many of them, it cost them their lives. They were fearless when most would be fearful. They were men who trusted in the Lord with all their heart, leaned not on their own understanding but in all their ways acknowledged God.

     The Reformation is and will continue to be talked about. Get used to it and expect no less. It may be redundant, but it is relevant. In an era, where you are told to compromise, to preach a love-and-peace-only-gospel rather than confronting sin and error, the faithful must represent and stand for the truth.

     In an era, where being a Bible-believing Christian is seen as judgmental, prejudiced, idiotic and illogical, God has given us examples of faithfulness and perseverance through the men of the Reformation. They remained faithful to the truth and God sustained them. If He sustained, strengthened and empowered them and promises He will do so for those who love and know Him, then why would He not do the same for us?

     “For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and self-control” (2 Tm 1:7).  We are the next generation who will bear the burden of truth to a lost world, but Christ promises his “yoke is easy and burden light” (Matt. 11:30). We study the Reformation because God calls us all to reform.