Monday 23 January 2017

2017 is the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

It was on the 31st October 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany. This led to the onset of what we now call the Reformation. What was this reformation? It was a recovery of the gospel and the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. The Roman Catholic Church had descended into a spiritual darkness, of which they still remain, so that the gospel was completely distorted and they proclaimed a works-based righteousness. They offered people the false hope of paying to get others peoples sin forgiven. This is utterly false.

The first doctrines to be recovered were justification and five key teachings have become associated with the Reformation. This reforming (present tense active participle) continues today and it must continue. The sinfulness of man tends to falsity and a departure from a biblical path and therefore the work continues. These five tenets of salvation are:

Scripture alone
Christ alone
Faith alone
Grace alone
To the glory of God alone

In the early part of the Reformation era magisterial Reformers such as Luther, then Calvin laid down clear teaching. The church began to work collectively to produce Confessions to clarify the content of biblical truth. Thomas Watson called this "The Body of Divinity". At the end of the line of all Protestant Confessions and Catechisms was the Westminster assembly and the resultant Westminster Standards. Probably the best summary of the Christian faith ever penned by the church. It is available to read on the website of Sheffield Presbyterian Church ( and it is being published this year in Modern English.

The Westminster Standards not only pens the final statement of the Reformation era, but it embodies the whole counsel of God. This is not a group of isolated doctrines but it contains the doctrines to keep church's on track and to best nourish the flock of God and to guard them from euro. The first chapter in the Westminster Confession is on Scripture. The first point of recovered truth must be Scripture. Let em recommend some resources for reading to encourage people.

Roland Bainton, The Life of Martin Luther
R C Sproul, Scripture Alone
Thomas Watson, The Body of Divinity

Acts 20:27 "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God".

In October this year, there is a Reformation 500 conference in Newcastle. I commend this conference and the website to learn how you can attend is:

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