Pastor Bob Norton
This year, 2017, is the Martin Luther year. We remember the Reformation and we celebrate it. But we must also continue the Reformation. The Reformation is not a dusty museum to be visited occasionally on a tour bus. It was and is a vital movement for truth and life in the Church of Jesus Christ. How should we maintain and advance the life-giving spirit of the Reformation?
One key is the Reformation slogan, Semper Reformada, which is Latin for reformed and always reforming. First, we are Christians who have been reformed by the Word of God. We know we are saved by grace and put into a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. We have been Justified by Faith. We’re not working our way to heaven, but we’ve heard and believed the good news that eternal life is a gift of God for those who trust in Jesus Christ. Our certainty (1 John 5:11-13) is based on His righteousness and His finished work on the Cross to supply our salvation. Being Reformed we must always remember that each generation must be about the business of always reforming, always coming back to the heart of the gospel of grace.
A second key is day by day turning our hearts in obedience to God. The Reformation watchword is Coram Deo, which is Latin for Living before the face of God. Martin Luther discovered the authority of Scripture, the life-giving Word of God. He admonished ordinary Christian people to turn to the Word daily and embrace the truth which sets us free (John 8:31-32). Luther translated the Latin Vulgate into German, the language of his people. They read. They studied. They meditated upon the inspired Word of God. They lived before the face of God. We are to live this way also.
A third key is celebrating and cherishing the power of the Solas – the Latin word for only meaning maintaining the matrix of Christian truth through the liberating truths Luther discovered from the Bible. They are: Sola Scriptura (only Scripture is our source of authority for faith and life), Solus Christus (only through Christ do we come to God and are saved as affirmed in Acts 4:12 and John 14:6), Sola Gratia (only grace enables us to be saved, it is the gift of God as described in Ephesians 2:8-9), Sole Fides (only faith in Jesus Christ brings freedom as explained in Romans 3:21-24), and Soli Deo Gloria (only living for His glory fulfills the purpose for our living on the earth, 1 Corinthians 10:31). The Westminster Confession (a Reformation legacy) summarizes these truths and our lives by first asking What is the chief end of man? and then inspiring us with the perfect answer To Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever!
The Reformation is about freedom and joy! The Word of God is our freedom book helping us in learning and living the eternal truths which enable us to be set free from religiosity, from a law-driven, fear-based approach to religion which brings death. Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) He also said, “I have told you these things that my joy might be in you and that your joy might be complete.” (John 15:11) Thank God for the Reformation in 1517 and in 2017! Soli Deo Gloria!