CMAllianceU Team Blog
HEART OF THE GOSPEL
Protestant Reformation: 500 Years
By Dan Wetzel
Multiple voices are calling believers to “rethink” the church and the gospel for the present day. The goal, they say, is to make the Christian faith relevant, and after 500 years, the doctrinal issues raised by the Protestant Reformation may seem remote.
Unlike our contemporaries who most often begin their theologies with human experience, Reformers in the 16th century were captivated by God’s Word. They were not trying to make the gospel relevant to society but to ground it in divinely revealed Scripture.
The principles of the Reformation are no less significant because centuries have passed. They capture the heart of the gospel Alliance messengers proclaim around the world.
Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
Jesus Christ alone can save us from our sin.
“The Council of Nicene in A.D. 325 produced the first clarifying statement on Christ’s two natures. . . . Jesus Christ was fully God and perfect man. He was unique in all of history. God became man to save us from our sin. This divine-human relationship within Jesus was called the ‘Hypostatic Union.’ It is one of the most important beliefs within our Christian faith.”
—Pat Blewett, dean of A. W. Tozer Seminary (Redding, Calif.)
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)
Our very lives depend upon God alone; therefore, we give glory to God alone.
“In our contemporary culture, many gods vie for our worship. In a world perpetually looking down at our phones, soli Deo gloria invites us to look up and proclaim ‘glory to the only God’ worthy of our whole-hearted attention.”
—Dean M. Erickson, department chair and professor of Old Testament Studies at Crown College (St. Bonifacius, Minn.)
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
Scripture alone is the basis for Christian doctrine.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
“God’s written revelation in the Scriptures is our guide under the illumination of the Holy Spirit for doctrine and life. . . . As in the case of our Lord Jesus, we should read, study, memorize, and obey the words of God. As it was central in His life, it should be central in ours as well as in His Church.”
—Jose Martinez, pastor of Catedral de La Esperanza (Rio Piedras, P.R.)
Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
Our justification before God is by our faith alone in the accomplished work of Christ.
“The doctrine of sola fide means no one should have to [put aside sinful ways] to become a Christian or to be received by churches as a Christian. The power to change one’s character and behavior can come only after one has met Christ. No newcomer to Christianity should be led to think, I have to quit stealing to be loved by God. Rather, he or she should think, Because I am loved by God, I want to quit stealing.”
—Frank Chan, professor of Bible at Nyack (N.Y.) College
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
We cannot earn God’s favor by somehow cooperating with God’s grace. Rather, salvation is by grace alone.
“Salvation from start to finish being an act of God’s sovereign grace is one of the greatest impetuses for missions. We can rest assured that at the end of the day, there will be a great multitude standing before the throne of God from every nation, tribe, people, and language not because of how faithful and effective we were in evangelizing but because of our reliance upon the Holy Spirit and His power to convict people of sin.”
—Samuel Heu, youth director of the C&MA Hmong District (Thornton, Colo.)
Pressures are mounting upon the Church to accommodate doctrine and life to a secular agenda. The appeal of compromise is increased by heart-rending accounts of people who feel excluded and accusations of intolerance. But it is important to learn from history.
Faithful believers have frequently found themselves on the fringe. The legacy of the Protestant Reformation is important precisely because the Reformers called God’s people back to their beginnings during a time of social change. The gospel anchors Christian experience.
We become God’s people by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ. It is an exclusive message proclaimed to the glory of God and grounded in divine revelation. Hebrews 1:1-2 says it well: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”