Reformation Day

Some of you will think that October 31st is a completely Godless day where children will get fatter, young people will make bad decisions, and Satan and his demons can take a day off because humans are doing all the work for them. Well, unfortunately, you wouldn't be completely wrong. However, October 31st (or Reformation Day) can be a great day of celebration for Christians.

It was on October 31st, 1517 that a priest in Germany named Martin Luther posted a series of 95 Theses on the door of his local church. At that time, the Roman Catholic church was a powerful, controlling entity that had spread across all of Europe. Led by the office of the pope in Rome, the church had influence in government, business, law, as well as individuals personal life.

Unfortunately, the original doctrine of the church that was established by the apostles after Jesus death had been altered, watered down, and in some cases altered completely. They had devolved to a point where people could buy forgiveness for their sins by giving more money to the church. Justification before God was confused by the concept that we had to earn our forgiveness and do enough good works to counteract all of our sins. Martin Luther was willing though to challenge some of these views and in response was excommunicated and branded a heretic.

This led to a period of time known as the Protestant Reformation. Most of our modern church denominations came out of this division with the Catholic church. To this day, Protestant Christians can mostly be lumped into a similar group with small variances in theology. At it's core though, the main principles that these Reformers stood upon came down to what are known as the five "solas".

These are doctrinal statements that distinguish Protestants and Catholics, and are still dearly held by those who follow Reformed theology. 'Sola' is the Latin word for alone, or singularly. So we see the five 'solas' as:

Sola Fide (Faith Alone)

Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification, Christ’s righteousness is given to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice. Our justification does not rest on any anything that we have done or earned. No amount of work or effort on our part can bring us into a right standing with God, it's only by accepting his work that he has done. This is so crucial to our faith that this doctrine is considered a salvation issue and those who disagree with it do not have a true understanding of Christianity.
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
The inerrant Scripture (the Bible) is the sole source of written revelation from God. 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. The Bible alone gives us everything we need to become, live as, and grow as a Christian, and it is the authority. Personal revelation, church decrees, or books written by other men are not legitimate if they disagree with what is written in the Bible.

Solus Christus (Christ Alone)

Our salvation is accomplished by the work of Jesus Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father. The Gospel is only truly being preached if it puts all of the value in Christ and calls the sinner to have absolute faith in him.

Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)

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. Salvation is in no sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. We can't produce faith on our own, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Soli deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)

So because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone. We can not 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.

So for those of you who are altogether opposed to the traditions and holiday of Halloween, here is something to celebrate. That God led the spirits of men like Luther and Calvin to challenge the false doctrines of their day. And through that, we have a better understanding of what true theology is and should be.


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