Friday, October 31, 2008

thoughts on reformation day

I decided to participate in the Reformation Day Symposium this year, hosted by Challies.
Many different thoughts came to mind as I considered what to write about, considering that the Reformation has had such a far reaching impact in many areas. I opted, however, to write regarding the heart of what the Reformation was about, the "sola's" -- and how we need them more than ever today.

The five sola's of the Reformation sparked a revolution, in the culture and in the hearts of men and women. The radical statements "Sola scriptura" (by Scripture alone), "Sola fide" (by faith alone), "Sola gratia" (by grace alone), "Solus Christus" (Christ alone), and "Soli deo gloria" (glory to God alone) were the pillars of belief that marked that era.

It is easy, however, to look at them only as that -- great beliefs that were expounded then and held to today, at least in the way we talk. But do we live out these truths in our lives?

The five sola's are eminently practical, and I want to encourage you today to think about how they play out in our living, and not just our talk. We are after all, Reformed, and very good at talk. But if no one could hear what we say, and only watch what we do, would they see that we live by Scripture's teaching alone, by faith alone, by grace alone, through Christ alone, and to bring glory to God alone?

I do not claim to have a life that consistently displays my beliefs in my actions. None of us can. That is, after all, why we need Christ.

And in that truth, I think, we can find a place to begin implementing our words into our deeds. Knowing that we are marred and thus our thinking is marred, we look to the Scripture's alone for truth. Knowing that we can not attain perfect sinlessness on our own, we trust in Christ's finished work on the cross by faith alone. Knowing that we can not live as He did, we rely on His grace to give us strength. Knowing that we have nothing that is beautiful in ourselves that He did not create in us, we live to bring all the glory to Him.

Beginning there we can think about the Church, our families, our communities, in the correct context. The questions we could ask ourselves are numerous, so I will limit the questions here to a few that have particularly struck me.

Is the way we "do" church based on God's word, or based on what people are comfortable with because that's the way it's been done (tradition)?

Do we rely on creeds or belief statements or catechisms or do we search out truth for ourselves in Scripture?

Do we blog, teach, take care of children, work, choose what to wear, sing, etc, etc because we long to bring God glory, or because of selfish ulterior motives?

Do we extend grace as freely as grace has been extended to us?

Do we trust in Christ alone for our salvation, or do we catch ourselves feeling more saved because we did "good" things?

My pastor often says we shouldn't "rest on our past laurels" and it's very true. What happened 491 years ago was amazing, and we can thank God that He moved so wonderfully. However, the Church needs revival today just as it did on October 31, 1517 -- may God begin with us.

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