Summary: A Reformation sermon focusing on the 5 Solas.
We were introduced to the “5 Solas” one year ago this weekend in a sermon called, “Engage with the Reformation.” The second part of that message will air on Moody Radio (89.3) Sunday at 11:00 a.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. if you’d like to listen to it.
Because the Protestant Reformation began 500 years ago, is it just a relic of history? Did it achieve its intended purposes so we no longer need to talk about it? As Michael Reeves puts it: “Was the Reformation just an unfortunate and unnecessary squabble over trifles, a childish outburst that we can all put behind us now that we are grown up?”
Last year, on October 31, Pope Francis announced that after 500 years, Protestants and Catholics “have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding each other.” Recently, a so-called TV preacher called for an end to the Reformation and for Protestants and Catholics to unite.
Two weeks ago three Catholic Churches and four Lutheran Churches got together for a joint worship service in Moline. According to an article in the Dispatch/Argus, one of the organizing pastors explained the purpose, “Instead of discussing the differences between the two church denominations, we’re going to celebrate the ways we act together.”
I want to suggest that now, more than ever; we need a fresh reformation revival. Robert Godfrey puts it like this: “The Reformation is not a museum to be visited occasionally on a tour bus. It was and is a vital movement for truth and life in the church of Jesus.”
While sincere Protestants and Catholics often find themselves as allies in defending the unborn, upholding marriage as between one man and one woman (though some denominations have caved on this issue), and standing against persecution of Christians (we’ll focus on this next weekend), there are still deep doctrinal differences that continue to divide us.
For example, according to the Catholic Catechism, “…The Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the Holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence…the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God…has been entrusted to the living, teaching, office of the Church alone…to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.” (“Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Part One, Section One, Chapter Two, Article Two, Lines 82 and 85, www.vatican.va).
Sadly, according to a Pew Research Center survey released just two months ago, Protestants and Catholics today are more similar religiously than they are different. Here are three key findings that I find deeply disturbing:
• About half of U.S. Protestants (52%) say both good deeds and faith in God are needed to get into heaven, a historically Catholic position.
• 46% of Protestants say the Bible provides all the religious guidance Christians need, a traditionally Protestant belief known as sola scriptura. But 52% say Christians should look for guidance from church teachings and traditions as well as from the Bible, the position held by the Catholic Church.
• And most alarming of all, just 30% of U.S. Protestants affirm both sola fide and sola scriptura!
If we close this book (the Bible), we turn off the light. We’re going to open it now and be guided by the Light of the World as He enlightens His Word for us. I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 2:7 where the Apostle Paul states that we must do our part as the Lord does His part: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” As we engage our minds, He will give us understanding. We’re going to especially need this today, as the passage we’re going to ponder is profound and even a bit perplexing.
Let’s read Mark 12:35-40 together: “And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, ‘How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?’ David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.’” David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?’ And the great throng heard him gladly. And in his teaching he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’”
Let’s pray right now so that we will think this passage over and that the Lord will give us understanding.