Celebrating 500 Years of Reformation - Posted 10/26/2017

From Pastor Chris

Hebrews 11 chronicles the spiritual “Hall of Faith”—the radical lives of Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and other faithful Israelites that resulted from their faith in God. Toward the end of the chapter, the author begins summarizing the exploits of leaders and prophets, such as Daniel, who “stopped the mouths of lions” (33). Then the text begins to list stories that we may not remember from the Old Testament. That’s because they’re not in the Old Testament. Many of the stories refer to martyrs who died under Antiochus Epiphanes, who we have heard much about in our study of Daniel. The stories can be found in 2 Maccabees 6-7 and 4 Maccabees 5-18.

I have referenced the Maccabees enough over the last month that I should reiterate that these books are not Scripture. They are helpful accounts of what happened to God’s people between Malachi and Matthew, but they are not God’s inspired word.

So why would the author of Hebrews make reference to these stories? Because history matters. Specifically, church history matters. We should remember the sacrifices, struggles, and faith of those who have lived before us as we seek to know how to live faithfully in our day.

This is why we will spend three Sundays in November focusing on the Protestant Reformation, which turns 500 this year. Many of our core Baptist convictions—the priesthood of all believers, the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the central role of the Bible to church life—flow directly from the work of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other reformers. Like everyone who is not Jesus, these were imperfect men who made tactical and theological mistakes. Yet they were at the right social and technological moment to bring about a revolutionary challenge to the corrupt rule and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Throughout November we will look at three specific issues the Reformation addressed: the teaching of justification by faith alone, the place of the Bible in the Christian life, and the role of money and power in the church. While I will bring history into the sermons, we will still be studying God’s word for our guidance. The reformers wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the mean time, if you want to familiarize yourself with Reformation history and how Baptists fit into it, look at this magazine [insert hyperlink on underlined words: https://erlc.com/resource-library/light-magazine-issues/500-years-of-reformation-summer-2016  ] that our Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has compiled.

May the central convictions (the “five solas”) that drove the Reformation continue to drive us today—salvation is by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.

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