I begin today's post by quoting from Paul's letter to the Church at Rome in Romans 4:1-3:
"What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
1. The Challenge to Rejoice
So why rejoice over Reformation day, October 31st? Three reasons....
a. The recovery of "sola scriptura"
To sharpen what Luther was needing to address in the Reformation, the big question was this: is it the Pope and his statements concerning who went to heaven and who did not constitute the ultimate authority for the church, or is it sacred scripture that God alone revealed to communicate matters pertaining to this life and the one to come?
As Martin Luther wrestled over such questions, his conclusion was - Scripture alone! Doubtless, other forms of authority such as church leadership, conclusions from reason and other forms of knowledge had their place in Luther's thinking. Yet, all of those said authorities were subsumed under scripture. Luther and other Reformers, such as Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, John Knox and others affirmed the "magisterial" role of scripture in its relationship to reason, tradition and church leadership.
c. Recovering the truth about the Biblical concept of the church
The third reason to celebrate Reformation Day, October 31st, is because the Biblical concept of the church was recovered. As Martin Luther denounced the Roman Catholic Church's system of indulgences, a second question emerged: how is a man or woman made right with God? A church that does not derive its authority from the scriptures nor teaches the Biblical concept of the Gospel - justification by faith alone, cannot be deemed a true church.
Roman Catholicism of 16th century Europe, as well as today, communicates faith to be necessary for salvation - however it teaches that faith by itself is not sufficient. According to Rome, one must participate in the Roman Catholic church system of baptism, confession, penance and Mass to be deemed right by God and to stay right. The Gospel in the Reformation's recovery of the church shined forth not as a candle but as a brilliant sun. If God had not raised up men like Martin Luther to spark the Reformation movement, then the recovery of Biblical authority, justification by faith in the Gospel and the necessary truth of the local church may had turned out quite different.
2. The Take-Back Challenge: Let's take back October 31st and celebrate God's Word, the Gospel and Jesus' mission for His church
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."