Protestant churches all over the world celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation last week. This is a great event to celebrate for the church. The seeds of the Protestant Reformation were sown in the years before Luther, but culminated in his posting of 95 Theses at the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. His posting on the church door was an invitation to dialogue about problems he saw in the church. He was truly seeking to reform the church as it was and not create a new branch of the church.
LUTHER AND JUSTIFICATION
One of the main issues that Luther was challenging was the heart of salvation. Luther was an Augustinian monk who was wrecked constantly with the challenge of religion to save. He felt and believed he could not do enough religious practices to offset the wickedness in his own heart. It wasn’t until he translated the book of Romans from Greek to German that he discovered the beauty of justification and the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is what Luther referred to as ‘alien’ righteousness. The term describes the righteousness we need to be in relationship with God by how it is bestowed to us by Jesus Christ. This justification is by faith alone which is one of five declarations of the reformation known as the 5 Solas.
The 5 Solas summarize the doctrinal declarations of the Reformation. They are Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. Within these five statements of Christian doctrine, we understand the Bible to teach that salvation is solely the work of God for his glory alone. You can learn more about the 5 Solas here.
REFORMATION CHALLENGES TODAY
While the Reformation was an incredible event that changed church history and the history of Western Civilization, it also has led to many challenges today. This is why the work of the Reformation is not over and we declare that we should be Semper Reformanda or always reforming. We should always be looking to personally be reformed by the gospel. The church should always be looking for where it is off in doctrine, practice, and worship.
The Reformation also made some very permanent stains on the history of the church. Now instead of seeking unity together as a church, we have thousands of denominations who are often very divisive and insular. Instead of seeking to submit to the authority of Scripture and the local church, we now practice our Christianity with a privatized and individualized ritual of doing what seems best to us. We’ll explore more about the Reformation at our upcoming Christian Formation Workshop. I hope you’ll join us. Check out more details here.
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