Reformation 500 years on
A chain of events which changed our whole culture, changed the world as we know it.
The reformation wasn’t all good. There were some tragic events. There were some views that we definitely wouldn’t want to sign up to.
But the rediscovery of the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in christ alone has transformed the world beyond individual salvation and a changed church. Read more
We saw last week that at the heart of the reformation was the rediscovery from the Bible of God’s revelation for how we can know him and how we can be right with him - how we can be justified? - that’s the Bible’s word. And the reformers great rediscovery was that justification being right with God is not a matter of our works and efforts to be holy. no, rather it has to be a free gift entirely from God. Justification is by grace alone, received through faith alone
Because of the depths of our sin, the fallenness of our hearts, we cannot save ourselves. We cannot choose god, we do not want God, we are turned away, curved in on ourselves. And even our good works are not for God but for ourselves. We cannot earn righteousness, neither are we gradually made righteous by cooperating with God’s assistance which was the official view of the church in Luther’s day. No, we must receive righteousness as a gift, totally external to us. Not a gradual change of our state but an immediate change of of our status. When we trust in Jesus God doesn’t remove our sins but he gives us the full righteousness of Christ and fully accepts us on that basis. Full welcome in. We are declared righteous, justified. We can know God, we are right with him. There is no further contribution to be made. there is no condemnation to fear. you are in the clear forever. Even your ongoing sins cannot shake your new status…
But how? How does this work?
We said that it all feels a bit abstract and out there. Can it really be true that God sees me as righteous when let’s face it in my attitudes and thoughts and behaviour - i’m not righteous. And if i’ve been given this righteousness of Jesus that clothes me - well it’s not really me is it that God loves? It doesn’t really work does it? I feel unconvinced
But secondly. If it did work. If i really am seen as righteous and that status never changes so i’m in the clear forever … what’s to stop me just carrying on in sin. Can i keep sinning so that grace may increase? Can i just do as i please? Well in theory yes… It doesn’t sound great does it?
The curial way to answer these concerns and to see that our salvation really works - really sets us in the clear forever AND it really changes us in the here and now. The way to understand this is through the third SOLA. The third of the 5 rallying cries of the reformation. Last week we has Sola Gratia and Sola Fide Grace alone, Faith alone. But the centre of it all is CHRIST ALONE Solus Christus
Salvation is found in no other name than Christ, and Christ alone Read more
We are going back 500 years. to the year 1517 October 31st when a german monk called Martin Luther. Nailed a pamplet - 95 theses - to his churches noticeboard - the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, Saxony. This action is said to have kick started what is known as the Protestant reformation Read more