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A Call for a New Reformation

A New Reformation Needed  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Today is Reformation Sunday. Five hundred years ago Tuesday a Catholic Monk, Martin Luther nailed 95 thesis on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. At the University there he was a professor lecturing on the Psalms, Romans, Galatians and Hebrews. His pilgrimage to becoming a monk began in 1505 at 21 years old Luther fought his way through a severe thunderstorm on the road to Erfurt, a bolt of lightning struck the ground near him. “Help me, St. Anne!” Luther screamed. “I will become a monk!” The scrupulous Luther fulfilled his vow: he gave away all his possessions and entered the monastic life. He was very religious and said one time,“If anyone could have earned heaven by the life of a monk, it was I.”One question consumed him: How is a sinful man made right before a holy God? In his study of Romans, he was gripped by 1: 17, “the righteous shall live by faith.” “At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I … began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith.… Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.” Being drawn to Christ by faith it was not long he saw clearly that the Catholic church had strayed from the Scriptures. It wasn’t long before the reformation in Luther’s heart launched itself publically on All Saints’ Eve, October 31, 1517. The Reformation quickly spread through- out Europe. Soon five key theological points became the central focus: sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone) and soli Deo gloria (God’s glory alone). I believe that every believer here needs to anchor their lives of these truths. So this message is an over view for each could be a stand alone message.
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. e gave away all his possessions and entered the monastic life. He was very religious and said one time,“If anyone could have earned heaven by the life of a monk, it was I.”One question consumed him: How is a sinful man made right before a holy God? In his study of Romans, he was gripped by 1: 17, “the righteous shall live by faith.” “At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I … began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith.… Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.” Being drawn to Christ by faith it was not long he saw clearly that the Catholic church had strayed from the Scriptures. It wasn’t long before the reformation in Luther’s heart launched itself publically on All Saints’ Eve, October 31, 1517. The Reformation quickly spread through- out Europe. Soon five key theological points became the central focus: sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone) and soli Deo gloria (God’s glory alone). I believe that every believer here needs to anchor their lives of these truths.
These are the five point of my message today. The first is....
In his study of Romans, he was gripped by 1: 17, “the righteous shall live by faith.” “At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I … began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith.… Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.” Being drawn to Christ by faith it was not long he saw clearly that the Catholic church had strayed from the Scriptures. It wasn’t long before the reformation in Luther’s heart launched itself on All Saints’ Eve 1517.
I. Scripture alone. Out of this one the other four flow. In the first words of this letter Paul said, (ESV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. Paul was shocked that the Galatians had deserted the Gospel message or other words the Scripture message. In Luther’s time the Scriptures were ignored to the teaching of the pope and councils which led to all kinds of false doctrines. Luther said, “A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or council.…” (ESV) But as for you, continue in what you have learned aul and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” All the issues of life are covered by the Word of God and we don’t need consult the world’s wisdom and to teach otherwise undercuts the sufficiency of the Scriptures. As history has shown when the Scriptures are ignored or undercut all kinds of sinful behavior can be embraced. Just look at denominations, universities and institutions that were founded on the inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures when that was lost. They have lost any resemblance to their heritage. One of my distant relatives, Increase Mather, a godly Congregational minister was President of Harvard. Both that denomination and university have lost it original commitment to the Scriptures inviting in all kinds of sinful practices. In the words of Luther all of us should be “ captive to the Word of God,” for it is the source of our understanding the meaning of justification. Justification is the very bases of our salvation.
The second of the great truths flowing out of the first is....
II. Christ alone. (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. In Zwingli’s words we see that our Reformed forebears unabashedly proclaimed salvation by Christ alone (solus Christus). Only in Christ is life, and outside of Him is death, they said. God’s justice can be satisfied only through Christ’s obedience. Outside of Christ, God is an everlasting, all-consuming fire; in Christ, He is a gracious Father. Without Christ, we can do nothing; in Him, we can do all things (; ).
The righteousness of Christ cannot be exhausted. As Luther says, “We cannot grasp or exhaust Christ, the eternal Righteousness, with one sermon or thought; for to learn to appreciate Him is an everlasting lesson which we shall not be able to finish either in this or in yonder life.”
Christ alone is and can bring salvation. Paul makes plain in and 2 that though there is a self-manifestation of God outside of His saving work in Christ, no amount of natural theology can unite God and man. Union with Christ is the only way of salvation.
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
We urgently need to hear solus Christus in our day of pluralistic theology, which has such a low view of Scripture. Liberal Protestant pictures Jesus as a moral example.
Today, postmodernism sees truth as wholly pluralistic and relativistic. There is no universal or absolute truth in any area of knowledge, not even in religion. Postmodernists, therefore, are skeptics who fully reject any classical concept of truth. The exclusive claims of Christ and Christianity are anathema to them. They see no beauty in Christ or in His stupendous work, that they should desire Him.

In Zwingli’s words we see that our Reformed forebears unabashedly proclaimed salvation by Christ alone (solus Christus). Only in Christ is life, and outside of Him is death, they said. God’s justice can be satisfied only through Christ’s obedience. Outside of Christ, God is an everlasting, all-consuming fire; in Christ, He is a gracious Father. Without Christ, we can do nothing; in Him, we can do all things (John 15:5; Phil. 4:13).

The righteousness of Christ cannot be exhausted. As Luther says, “We cannot grasp or exhaust Christ, the eternal Righteousness, with one sermon or thought; for to learn to appreciate Him is an everlasting lesson which we shall not be able to finish either in this or in yonder life.”

Christ alone is and can bring salvation. Paul makes plain in Romans 1 and 2 that though there is a self-manifestation of God outside of His saving work in Christ, no amount of natural theology can unite God and man. Union with Christ is the only way of salvation.

We urgently need to hear solus Christus in our day of pluralistic theology, which has such a low view of Scripture. As Carl Braaten says, “There is currently underway a strong trend in both Protestant and Roman Catholic theology to call into question the classical Christian confession that Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior of the world.” Too many today, Braaten goes on to say, “are returning to a form of the old bankrupt nineteenth-century Christological approach of Protestant liberalism and calling it ‘new,’ when it is actually scarcely more than a shallow Jesus-ology, at best a revival of the liberal Protestant picture of Jesus as a moral example of middle-class piety.” The end result is that today many—as H. R. Niebuhr has famously said of old theological liberalism—proclaim and worship “a God without wrath who brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”24

Today, postmodernism sees truth as wholly pluralistic and relativistic. There is no universal or absolute truth in any area of knowledge, not even in religion. Postmodernists, therefore, are skeptics who fully reject any classical concept of truth. The exclusive claims of Christ and Christianity are anathema to them. They see no beauty in Christ or in His stupendous work, that they should desire Him.

Our Reformed forebears, drawing on a perspective traceable all the way back to the fourth-century writer Eusebius of Caesarea, found it helpful to think about Christ as a Prophet, Priest, and King. The 1689 Baptist Confession, for instance, puts it this way: “Christ, and Christ alone, is fitted to be mediator between God and man. He is the prophet, priest and king of the church of God”

Our Reformed forebears, drawing on a perspective traceable all the way back to the fourth-century writer Eusebius of Caesarea, found it helpful to think about Christ as a Prophet, Priest, and King. The 1689 Baptist Confession, for instance, puts it this way: “Christ, and Christ alone, is fitted to be mediator between God and man. He is the prophet, priest and king of the church of God”
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(ESV) But as for you, continue in what you have learned aul and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (ESV) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Then in 1505 his life took a dramatic turn. As the 21-year-old Luther fought his way through a severe thunderstorm on the road to Erfurt, a bolt of lightning struck the ground near him.
“Help me, St. Anne!” Luther screamed. “I will become a monk!”
The scrupulous Luther fulfilled his vow: he gave away all his possessions and entered the monastic life.
Luther was extraordinarily successful as a monk. He plunged into prayer, fasting, and ascetic practices—going without sleep, enduring bone-chilling cold without a blanket, and flagellating himself. As he later commented, “If anyone could have earned heaven by the life of a monk, it was I.”
Galli, M., & Olsen, T. (2000). Introduction. In 131 Christians everyone should know (p. 34). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.Monk nailed 95 thesis on
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