Summary: With the 500th anniversary of Reformation (31st Oct 1517-31st Oct 2017) around the corner , Yours Truly felt inspired to come-up with a 2 Part series on Reformation. Having already submitted Part 1 of the same, I am submitting herewith Part 2 of the same.
Of Motion, Reformation and Celebration –Part 2
The Sermon Central readership would recall that whilst ending the First part of this series, I had stated that in the ensuing second part of the same, I would be focusing on the 5 “Solas” (Latin term meaning essentially “principle” in English) which undergirded the Reformation Movement (as per Church historians these principles’ evolved over a period of time and not all at once) and their relevance thereof in contemporary Christendom. So here goes...
Sola Scriptura (Bible alone)...
It fundamentally means that the infallible Word of God has to be the sole basis for understanding God’s counsel in any matter. Take for instance, Mary’s mediatory role which the Catholic Church was deifying but the Reformers’ defied on the basis of truth-defining Scripture portions such as John 14:6, 1 Tim 2:5 and Rom 8:34 which leave none in doubt that the mediatory role belongs to Jesus and Jesus alone.
Coming to the present day Christendom (in the contemporary Protestant Church) once again the Bible alone needs to be banked upon in immediately identifying the “Wolf who come in sheep clothing” (Not only cultists’ (2 John 1:7-10) like Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses’ but also Prosperity Gospel preachers like Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland etc- Matt 7:15/ 2 Tim 4:3). There is no shortage of prosperity Gospel preachers in the present scenario who would pander to those with “itching ears” assuring them of “riches all the way” in following Christ, when the truth is to the contrary (Philippians 3:18-21). Hey...the Early Church preached not the Gospel of Prosperity but the Gospel of Adversity- John 16:30/ Acts 14:22/ Phil 1:30!!! Now who is to tell these folks that our Heavenly Father in the NT Dispensation would provide richly only as per our need and not as per our greed (Matt 6:33/ 1 Tim 6:6-10)!!!
I would encourage all the Christians’ of the present generation to take a leaf out of the Berean Believers’ book by cross-checking what all is being preached with the Grand Ole’ Book (Acts 17:10-12). It pays to be well-grounded in the Scripture for then only we can distinguish between a teaching which is in conformity with it and the one which is not. As it is said “One can identify a crooked line only when he knows how a straight line looks”. Mind you, another word for The Bible is “Canon” meaning a measuring “Straight line” (in Classical Latin).
Sola Fide (Faith alone)...
Habukkuk 2:4 (B) which formed crux of the life-changing, Reformation-triggering Bible portion (Romans 1:17) of Martin Luther would read as “The righteous shall live by his faith” in most of the translations but The Living Bible captures the essence of it better by paraphrasing it thus...
“This Good News tells us that God makes us ready for heaven—makes us right in God’s sight—when we put our faith and trust in Christ to save us. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith (emphasis mine)...”
The key operative words are “from start to finish by faith” meaning we get to right relationship with the Almighty on Earth and eventually go to Heaven not by acts such as one-time demonstration of human will as seen in scaling 28 steps of Scala Sancta but by consistent walk of faith marked by not only the
a) Right start-by being “born again” by placing our trust solely on the atoning work of Christ on the Cross to cleanse us of our sins ( I reiterate not on our one-time acts performed with human determination)
but also by the
b) Right finish-till the time of our physical departure from this World (i,e..death) arrives we would be working out our salvation day-by –day (bearing the Cross faithfully) through the power of the joyous, indwelling Holy Spirit who is given to every Christian at the time of his/her regeneration (Acts 13:52/ Rom 15:13/ Phil 2:12).... a la Paul (2 Tim 4:6-7/ Matt 24:13).
The usage of Hab 2:4 (B) by the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews also whilst warning the Jews who were considering going back to Judaism after experiencing the joy of Salvation in Christ (Heb 10:34-38) is proof enough of the fact that the word “Faith” (in Hebrew Emunah and in Greek Pistis both meaning “steadfastness”) connotes not a faith of mere say 24 hours but one of perpetuity till the very end (Heb 12:1-3).
Why the Christians’ of the Jewish background (at the time Epistle of Hebrews was written) were thinking of going back to Judaism is a different subject altogether. Constraints of time and space may not permit Yours Truly to deal elaborately on that incidental subject. Suffice it to say (at this stage) that these Jews who were at the receiving end of severe persecution unleashed by half-insane Roman Emperor namely Nero on the Christians (and not on Jews) reasoned that since Judaism also had “sacred roots”, why not revert back to it whereby escaping persecution? That’s when the Author of Hebrews hits the straps, so to speak, to warn them of dire consequences of taking such a sacrilegious step (Heb 2:3), even whilst proving throughout his epistle as to how this “New Covenant through Christ” stands head and shoulders over the “Old one”.