Key Verse: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:2
This month marks the 500 years anniversary of Reformation Day. It remembers the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church in 1517. The impact of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation changed the western church and world forever, and eventually led to the emergence of the Protestant denominations that exist today. From Germany, the Protestant Reformation expanded through Europe, influencing the work of John Calvin in Geneva, Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich, and John Knox in Scotland. The Reformation Luther led also sparked the Anabaptist (free church) movement and the English Reformation. These movements, in turn, influenced the spread of Christianity to the Americas and throughout the world where European exploration took place. South Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand all felt the impact of Luther’s hammer in Wittenberg.
The Reformers were guided by the conviction that the church of their day had drifted away from the essential, original teachings of Christianity. We’ve each at some time been playing in the sea at the beach and then looked up to see that we have been slowly drifting away from where we had started. Likewise, the 16th Century Church had drifting from many vital gospel truths. I am reminded of the words from the well-known hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing“:
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.
The Reformers sought to re-orient Christianity on the original message of Jesus and the early church. This desire gave birth to what is now known as ‘The Five Solas.’ Five Latin phrases to summarize the Reformers’ theological convictions about the essentials of Christianity.
The Five Solas are:
Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Saviour, and King.
Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.
As with the church of old, we would do well to often reconsider our path, to check if we are drifting off course or staying true. A jet may only be a few degrees off at take-off, but if it keeps flying without adjusting its course, it will be hundreds of miles off from its destination. We live in a world that does all it can to make us drift from God’s Word. We need to regularly align our lives with Scripture to stay true to the calling we have received.
I really hope you can join with me for the rest of this month as we consider the Five Solas together and reflect upon what they mean to us in 2017.
- Have you found yourself drifting in your spiritual walk?
- In which areas do you think the church needs to be careful not to compromise with the world?
Father, Thank You for the way you build Your church. Thank You that while we are prone to wander, you are the Good Shepherd who brings us back. Help us this month to align our lives with your Word and your plans and purposes for our life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.