Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Protestant Reformation

410px-Martin_Luther_by_Lucas_Cranach_der_Ältere Everyone knows that October 31 is Halloween, but there’s another, much more significant holiday that takes place on the 31st also. It’s Reformation Day, in memory of Luther’s posting his 95 theses against the Catholic church on October 31, 1517.

Last Sunday, known as Reformation Sunday, our church learned about the history of the Protestant Reformation and its significance for us today.

  • Problems with the church. Things looked pretty bleak by the beginning of the 16th century. The church suffered from serious doctrinal error, superstition, corruption of leaders, and ignorance of lay people. One pope, Alexander VI, was notorious for skipping worship services, mutilating a priest, setting houses on fire, committing homicide, adultery, and rape, drinking to the health of the devil, and turning the papal palace into a brothel. No wonder these were called the Dark Ages.
  • Major Reformers. This included men like the converted monk Martin Luther (1483-1546), the Swiss reformer Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531), and the brilliant theologian John Calvin (1509-1564). God raised up each of these men “for such a time as this” to draw people back to the Word of God and bring reform that continues to impact us today.
  • Main Protestant Doctrines. Five doctrines stand out as the banner cries of the Reformation: sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola christus (Christ alone), and soli deo gloria (glory to God alone). Each of these stand at the very heart of the Gospel we cherish and defend.

Questions for thought and discussion:

  • According to Ephesians 5:25-27, what is Christ’s purpose for His bride, the church?
  • Is Christianity is in need of another “Reformation” today? Why or why not?
  • Singing songs, praying to God, and reading the Bible in our own language are all blessings of the Reformation. Am I taking full advantage of these forms of worship?
  • While I may never have the global influence of a Reformer, what has God called me to do? How can I pray, give, teach, serve, etc. to make an eternal impact in someone’s life?
  • What are the greatest threats to the Gospel today? Am I faithfully guarding what has been entrusted to me? (1 Tim. 6:20-21)

Sunday’s message has been uploaded to our podcast site and is now available for free download.

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