Due to sickness, I missed preparing an article for October 31, so here are a few of my belated thoughts.
Why is October 31 so special? It is because that was the day in 1517 that the great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses up on the Wittenberg Church Castle door in Germany. His thundering hammer sparked off the Protestant Reformation. Its loud vibrations five hundred plus years later are still heard rumbling through the earth in every direction and in every nation tongue and tribe.
Prior to Luther in the 16th century the Church of Rome dominated Western culture. It was rich and increased with goods and seemed like it had need of nothing. But time did prove once again the phrase coined by the English nobleman Lord Acton in 1857, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Like an absolute monarch it had no one to answer but itself. The church was so opulent and dripping in luxury that it owned nearly one-third of all European lands, and most of its monarchs were under its resting stool. With financial supremacy, political dominance, and publicly accepted doctrine, the church was the sun-king that you dare not question only flatter. Priests became profiteers, crowned were bought and sold to the highest bidder, and church rituals were as hollow as cracked church bells.
While there are many layers to the Reformation, the one spark that hit the dynamite shed was the sale of indulgences. Its profits were enormous. The purpose was to raise money to build the Vatican It gouged the poor. Its mantra was, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” According to one of its main peddlers Johann Tetzel the more coins you bought the more time you reduced a loved one’s suffering in purgatory. The uneducated masses fell for it like a modern-day lottery. That is everybody but a man by the name of Martin Luther. His retort was that if the Pope has the power to forgive sins why would he not do it all for free. Christ died freely for all. He said to the repentant thief next to him on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The dissent swept across Western Europe and the Renaissance which was smoldering beneath the surface simultaneously turned the spark into a forest fire that became the Protestant Reformation that still burns brightly to this day.
Martin Luther exposed the corruption behind so many practices in the Church of Rome. His main message he preached was that salvation is obtained through simple faith in Jesus Christ plus nothing. His translation of the Bible from Latin into German along with the providential invention of the printing press a few years earlier added more oxygen to the fire as it burned brighter and brighter spread further and further than ever before. People began reading the Bible for themselves rather than depend on the Catholic Church to interpret it for them. The simple gospel was restored to the people and brought Christianity back to its roots.
Before concluding, I will in a very brief manner present to you the Five Solas that the Protestant Reformation restored to Christianity and are maintained by all the Evangelical Churches to this day.
The five Solas of the Reformation, which distinguished the Reformers from the teachings of Rome, include sola scriptura (Scripture alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), and soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone).These five proclamations of the evangelical faith still lay at the center of what distinguishes the theology of the Reformation from the theology of the Roman Catholic church in the 16th century
1. Sola Scriptura is the belief that because Scripture is God’s inspired Word, it is the only inerrant,
sufficient, and final authority for the church.
2. Solus Christus is the assertion that Christ alone is the basis on which the ungodly are justified in
3. Sola Fide maintains that the believer receives the redemption Christ has accomplished only through
4. Sola Gratia proclaims that all of our salvation, from beginning to end, is by grace and grace alone.
Because of this belief the Reformers held tenaciously to the phrase,
5. Soli Deo Gloria, that only God receives glory for our salvation.
Happy Belated Reformation Day!
To God Be the Glory great things he has done and is continuing to do.
Dr. Robert Bryant