VALLEY PULPIT: The Reformation has something to say for the whole Christian Church

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For most people these days, October 31 st means one thing: Halloween. Somewhere, hidden by ghosts and zombies, there is an anniversary that easily goes unnoticed. On this day, All Hallows Eve, in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517, Martin Luther, a young monk and teacher, nailed his 95 theses to the door of the castle church, inviting thus others to discuss / debate certain areas of the teaching of the Church, according to him, were out of step with the Word of God.

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Posting statements containing your opinions on the doorstep of a church seems strange to us, but it was an accepted way of getting your message across at the time. By the way, that explains the T-shirt which shows a hammer and a photo of Luther with the caption: “No, the door was fine. I just came to fix your theology.

Luther’s action on this day is generally regarded as a turning point in the advent of the Reformation. Christendom has never been the same.

Much water has flowed under the bridge since the 1500s, but some of us still believe that the Reformation has something to say to the entire Christian Church, both Catholic and Protestant.

It’s hard to say much about this in about 600 words, but here are some thoughts.

  1. The Reformation concerned the Bible. It was by reading the scriptures that Luther came up with ideas that changed his life and had a tremendous impact on the Church. He translated the Bible into German and encouraged the reading of the Bible. For the reformers, Holy Scripture was the sufficient source and final authority in all areas of faith and life. The preaching of the Word of God had to be central.

That doesn’t mean they ignored those who came before them. Luther and Calvin were diligent students of the Church Fathers. They saw themselves as seeking to purify the Church, not to destroy it.

  1. The Reformation emphasized a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Reformers shone the spotlight on Jesus and what he did for sinners through his atoning death on the cross. They emphasized that it is Christ who saves us. We contribute nothing to our salvation except the sin from which we are saved! He does everything. We only look at ourselves and trust Him. This is how God puts us right with Himself. And that is what it means to be “justified by faith” (Romans 5: 1).

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Reformers were quick to add that when faith in Christ is real, it always produces a life of godliness and works of love. It never means a license to sin.

  1. The Reformation recovered the “priesthood of all believers”. The original word for priest means someone who offers a sacrifice (our English “priest” is different – a form of “priest”, elder or head of a church). In the New Testament, every Christian has a priestly role (see 1 Peter 2: 5). According to Hebrews 13:15, “By Jesus, therefore, offer a sacrifice of praise continually to God.

Anyone who trusts in the Lord Jesus has full access to the Father in prayer and worship. The ordinary Christian is not a spectator sitting on the sidelines. We are to be active in the life of the Body of Christ, the Church.

What can we take away from it? Regardless of the context of our church, it reminds us to read the Bible for ourselves, to pray for understanding and the ability to believe and follow what we learn. We must take the scriptures seriously and let them shape our lives.

We should trust Jesus as our Savior and rejoice in his love and grace, which were given to us when he gave himself for us at Calvary.

We need our clergy, but we must not leave everything to the pastor. We all have our part to play, and above all we can benefit from direct access to God in prayer.

John Vaudry is a retired minister living in Pembroke.

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