For centuries, the Gospel had been shrouded and distorted by the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. The claim to be the only true church and the belief that the Pope held preeminence over all churches everywhere placed the church’s teaching on par (and even above) Scripture. Throughout the years had been small isolated groups who resisted the Church’s doctrine (Waldensians, Lollards, Brethren, etc.). And while several individuals that never embraced the practices of Roman Catholicism had been martyred for their stance (John Wycliffe, John Huss, etc.), things seemed to have come to a head in the early 1500’s.
A German priest and professor of Theology, Martin Luther, had been vocal about his concerns of the Church’s corrupt teaching and practices. On October 31, 1517, fully aware of the potential of persecution and even death for protesting the ways of the Catholic Church, he posted his “95 Theses” on the door of the church at Wittenberg. This was a clear call by Luther for complete reform and even a challenge to scholars to debate the issues. Luther’s beliefs served as a spark for the movement that would come to be known as the Protestant Reformation.
At the heart of the controversies, there were a few basic questions: Where is the authority for what to believe? How does a person receive forgiveness from God? What is the true church? In answering these questions, the Reformation produced what would be known as the “Five Solas” (Latin word for “alone”). These points of belief are what separate Protestantism from Catholicism.
- Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone
- Sola Gratia – Salvation by Grace Alone
- Sola Fide – Salvation through Faith Alone
- Solus Christus – Salvation in Christ Alone
- Soli Deo Gloria – For the Glory of God Alone
As Layton Talbert said,
the Reformers did not discover the doctrine of justification by faith alone apart from the works of the Law—they simply uncovered it from where it lay, right there in the text of Scripture, buried beneath the dust and dirt of traditions and additions by an unfaithful church.
Last year marked the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation (1517-2017). In commemoration of the occasion, our church went through a study called Sola: The One and Only Gospel. Take some time this month to listen to the series and remind yourself of these significant truths. Ask God to deepen your commitment to Scripture, your understanding of the Gospel, and your devotion to living for His glory.
Happy Reformation Day!The Reformers did not discover the doctrine of justification by faith alone, they simply uncovered it from where it lay, right there in the text of Scripture buried beneath the traditions of an unfaithful church. (L. Talbert) Click To Tweet
Reformation Reading RECOMMENDATIONS
GOSPEL MEDITATIONS FOR THE REFORMATION
Church Works Media has published this devotional book of 31 brief daily readings from Scripture illustrated with scenes from Reformation history. Noted historian Carl Trueman and theologian Andy Naselli join pastors Chris Anderson and Joe Tyrpak as contributing authors. This devotional will feed your mind and warm your heart, and point you to Christ!
THE UNQUENCHABLE FLAME: DISCOVERING THE HEART OF THE REFORMATION
For those that would like to learn more about the history and the events of the Reformation, we highly recommend The Unquenchable Flame. You’ll find it to be accessible, engaging, entertaining, and a fascinating introduction to the Protestant Reformation. In this book, you’ll meet some of the most colorful characters of the Reformation – Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, etc. You can get a paperback copy of the book or Kindle version through Amazon.