Heroes of the Faith Day
Date: Saturday, 20th June 2009
Time: 09.00 hours to 17.00 hours
Venue: Kabwata Baptist Church
Books and snacks will be on sale, so bring some money with you!
When Martin Luther (1483-1546) nailed The Ninety-Five Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church
in Wittenberg, Germany, on 31st October 1517, he thought that all he was doing was opposing the selling of indulgences in the Roman Catholic Church as a form of finding forgiveness with God. He did not realize that by that one act he was changing the course of Western civilization and setting the world
ablaze. Up to that time, others had tried to bring about the change that the church and the world desperately needed. But it was this final act that opened the Pandora’s Box and made the Protestant Reformation unstoppable.
When John Calvin (1509-1564) took up the mantle, he shaped its theology and thus gave it a system of thought that laid its foundation for many generations. So, although John Calvin did not begin the Reformation, he became its most burning light.
When people hear that we are spending an entire day to remember John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation, they must be thinking, “Can anything be more irrelevant than that?” In fact, for many people the Protestant Reformation was merely a time when the Protestant church separated from the Roman Catholic Church. So what is the big deal? Very few people today, including Christians, realize that the liberty they enjoy as God’s free people on this planet is largely owed to the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers clarified what authority should bind human consciences. And so it was not just the life and worship of the church that underwent transformation. It was everything! The political and ethical changes that gripped Europe to produce the kind of world you and I inherited were largely because of the ideals that were being preached and lived out by the Reformers. These men and women paid an enormous price for our liberties today. Many of them were burnt alive at the stake in order for you and me to be a free people.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the Protestant Reformation was a rediscovery of the gospel. For many years it had been buried under an ever-growing mountain of rubble of human superstition and tradition. The selling of indulgences, the midway house between heaven and hell called purgatory, the mediatorial role of the Virgin Mary, the praying to the departed saints, the extra sacraments that had been added to the Lord’s Supper and baptism, the change of the Lord’s Supper into the re-enactment of the death of Christ in the Mass, the mandatory celibacy of the priests, the authority of the Pope, etc, were all part of this rubble.
The selling of indulgencies
The Reformers put dynamite under the rubble and blew it away so that today we are very clear as to what the biblical answer is to the question of salvation. We know that the Scriptures alone teach that it is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and for the glory of God alone. Once upon a time this was not as clear as it is now. We owe a great debt to the Reformation!
The Christian church needs to remember her past in order to make sure that she does not repeat their mistakes and also in order to appreciate her rich spiritual heritage. Not to do so is to remain in a frustrating rut of heresy and scandal, and to remain depressed by the present state of the church.
The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century is a period that every Christian must familiarize himself with. The conditions that led to it, what really happened during that period in history, and the fruit of that movement of the Holy Spirit are well worth taking time to learn. And this is not just history.
The fuzziness that characterized the pre-Reformation period is evident even today, especially in the modern Charismatic movement. Many of them have lost the gospel and are processing people based on health and wealth. The priests of the Roman Catholic Church have entered in using the back door of evangelicalism in the form of anointed men of God who alone seem to have celestial powers. The altar is back with its anointing oil. If we are to regain the clarity that was once hard-won by the Reformers, we need to re-study the method that God blessed in those days, so that we can use the same method today.
Come and join us in this one day of studying our rich spiritual heritage and become a Reformer in today’s world!