1. Golfer Payne Stewart and 5 others boarded the Learjet in Orlando for a flight to Dallas. They ended up a thousand miles north of their destination, crashing near Aberdeen, South Dakota. The eerie things is that for four hours the plane was on autopilot and those on board were not aware of what was going on. It is believed that somehow the plane lost its cabin pressure, either killing those on board or leaving them unconscious. The plane flew until it ran out of fuel. F16 fighters flew alongside but there was nothing they could do. In fact, one report said that if it looked like the plane might have landed in a populated area they may have even shot it down.
2. Why did the plane end up going so far from its destination? Probably because of winds or other factors that threw the direction of the plane off soon after it took of. A slight change of direction and the plane needed up no where near to where those aboard hoped to go.
3. Today is Reformation Sunday. A day on which we celebrate the birth of the Protestant church. A day on which we remember Reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin. How they were used by God to bring us back to the truth of Godís words. For just as with the Learjet, the church can so easily get off course and end up being far from where it was intended to be.
4. That is why, whether it is a plane or a large ship or the church, readings need to be taken to ensure it is on course, and when it is off course, even the slightest, but corrections to its course needs to be taken.
5. The church, including you and me so easily get off the course that God has set before us. We so easily lose sight of the truth of Godís word and head in the wrong direction. A slight deviation to the truth can bring us to places we never wanted to go to.
6. The word reformation really refers to a correcting or a getting back on the right course. To reform means "to amend or improve by change f form or removal of faults and abuses.í "To put an end to an evil by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action." To reform is to free us from sin and evil.
7. I would like to think that the Reformation put us back on course to stay. That it brought about a church that was freed from the false teachings of the RC church that said that only the church could declare salvation and that people had to do what the church said to be saved. That we again were based on the truth that "The righteous will live by faith." That we are saved by Godís grace through faith rather than works.
8. But the problem is that we have a tendency to stray off course. And we continually need to check our settings and making adjustments. That is why the founders of the Reformed Church adopted the motto "Ecclessia reformata quia semper reformanda est." The church reformed because it must always be reforming.
9. In other words reformation is to be an ongoing activity. We must always be comparing what we believe and how we live to the truth of the word of God. We will stray from the truth but we must continually be going back to the truth.
10. And friends, this is as important to remember today as it has ever been. For the church today is straying from the truth in many ways. In fact it seems we cannot even agree on what truth is any more. That we like Pilate ask the question "What is truth?"
11. I found it interesting in my readings to see that this problem is largely due to the reformation itself. It is a little difficult to understand and I hope I do not lose anyone. But I believe this is important because it helps us to see how each one of us so easily gets misled as to what the truth really is.
12. David Wells, in his book, No Place For Truth" talks about this. I will try to say this in simpler terms without distorting his point. The reformers taught us that we can know God as we need to know Him to be saved. And that to know Him as such is not to know Him through created nature, human nature, or through the church. But that we can only know Him directly by the work of the Holy Spirit and by the truth of the Bible. Salvation is between you individually, and God. The only intermediary or one that stands between us is Jesus Himself. As a minister I could declare someone unsaved but my declaration would have no power.