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Reformation Day 2008

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Reformation Day 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

“A people without a heritage are easily persuaded (deceived)” Karl Marx

This week is the 491st anniversary of "Reformation Day." On that day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church doors in Wittenberg, Germany to launch an official protest of the doctrine and practice of the Church in Rome. Out of this "protest" came what we know today as "Protestants or Evangelicals" and an event in church history known as the Reformation.

During the Reformation, several Latin slogans emerged, illustrating the Reformers' concern that the authorities of the Church had distorted the message of justification before God, and salvation in Jesus Christ. In other words the Church of Rome had made salvation a human work by adding that men have a part in their own salvation.

The Reformers found it necessary to return to the simplicity of the Gospel in terms of the issues designated by these slogans or solas as they are called in Latin.

There are five Solas, four discussed here. The fifth, Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone the glory), is intended to underlie the other four. These slogans essentially became rallying cries to challenge the problems the Reformers had identified, which are:

Solus Christus: Christ alone - The Protestants characterize the dogma concerning the Pope as Christ's representative head of the Church on earth, the concept of meritorious works, and the Catholic idea of a treasury of the merits of saints, as a denial that Christ is the only mediator between God and man.

Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone - Protestants believe that the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church obscures the teachings of the Bible by convoluting it with the Roman Church history and its own man made doctrine.

Sola Fide: Faith alone - Protestants believe that faith in Christ alone is enough for eternal salvation, unlike Roman Catholics who believe it requires "faith and good works." Instead, Protestants believe that practicing good works attest to one's faith in Christ and his teachings.

Sola Gratia: Grace alone - The Roman Catholic view of the means of salvation was believed by the Protestants to be a mixture of reliance upon the grace of God, and confidence in the merits of one's own works, performed in love. The Reformers posited that salvation is entirely comprehended in God's gifts, (i.e. God's act of free grace) dispensed by the Holy Spirit according to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ alone.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10

Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone)

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Solus Christus (Christ alone)

We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.

We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ's substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.

Sola Gratia (Grace alone)

We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God's wrath by His grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.

We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.

Sola Fide (Faith alone)

We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ's righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God's perfect justice.

We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ's righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns Sola Fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be glory)

We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God's glory and that we must glorify Him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, and the authority of God and for His glory alone.

We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

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