Why Celebrate the Reformation? PDF Print E-mail

To the Ends of the EarthPicture1

Twenty two years ago a Frontline Fellowship Mission team was approaching a remote village in Cuando Cubango province (what the Portuguese refered to as the ends of the earth) in Angola. The team heard the sound of enthusiastic singing. They immediately recognised the tune, even though they could not understand the words.

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

What they were hearing was: Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress is our God), Dr. Martin Luther's great Battle Hymn of the Reformation, in Ovimbundu. This beloved Hymn, based on Psalm 46, is one of the favourite Hymns of the Persecuted Church, and one of the most translated Hymns in history.

Celebrating the Reformation

A large banner was stretched across the road proclaiming 31 October 1517. It was Reformation Day! School children had posters and projects with hand drawings of Reformers, Dr. Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, William Tyndale and John Calvin.

 

Picture2Battle Cries of the Reformation

The great battle cries of the Reformation were boldly displayed: Sola Christus! Sola Scriptura! Sola Gratia! Sola Fide! Soli Deo Gloria! Christ alone is the head of the Church. Scripture alone is our authority. Salvation is by the grace of God alone. Justification is received by Faith alone. Everything is to be done for the Glory of God alone.

The Greatest Gift

These Ovimbundu believers had suffered much. Their church buildings had been destroyed by the communists. They effectively had no Bibles. What was left of the few Bibles and Hymn books that they had possessed were now in tatters. When they received the Scriptures they declared: "This is the greatest gift anyone could ever ask for! The Word of God in my own language!"

Resolution

We were rebuked by the steadfast devotion of these Ovimbundu believers. Here they were, at what had been described as the ends of the earth, and they were celebrating Reformation Day. Since then we have resolved to celebrate 31 October as the birthday of all Protestant, Evangelical, Bible-Believing churches.

Picture3First Things First

The Lord Jesus taught: "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33

Peace with God

It was Dr. Martin Luther's earnest quest for peace with God, and his intensive study of the Scriptures, which led him to challenge the unethical fund raising tactics of the papacy and launch the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther's love for the Word of God and his dedication to truth, led him to challenge the entire ecclesiastical and political authority of the Roman Catholic church and the holy Roman empire.

Repentance Not Indulgences

On 31 October 1517, Professor Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses onto the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg. The 95 Theses begins with Repentance: "Since our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ says: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near, He wants the whole life of a believer to be a life of Repentance." Professor Luther maintained that no sacrament can take away our responsibility to respond to Christ's command to true repentance, evidenced by outward change, a transformation and renewal of our entire life. Luther emphasised that it is God alone who can forgive sins and indulgences are a fraud.

altCaptive to the Word

Summoned before the Emperor, Martin Luther declared: "Unless I an convinced by Scripture, or by clear reasoning, that I am in error - for popes and councils have often erred and contradicted themselves - I cannot recant, for I am subject to the Scriptures I have quoted; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. It is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against one's conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. So help me God. Amen."

Scripture Alone

In this courageous stand Martin Luther argued for freedom of conscience based upon the authority of Scripture. From these foundational principles flowed constitutional authority: The principle of Lex Rex (The Law is King!) No one is above God's Law. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Everyone is under God's Law. Sola Scriptura eroded the foundations of political and ecclesiastical totalitarianism.

Foundations for Freedom

The Protestant emphasis on the priesthood of all believers and the supreme authority of Scripture led to the concept of representative government and constitutional authority as the supreme law of the land. By emphasising the Biblical doctrine of faith as a gift of God, Martin Luther undermined the Catholic Inquisition and provided the Theological foundations for religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

Picture4A Legacy of Liberty

The social implications of this Reformation were enormous. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura led to constitutionalism. The priesthood of all believers led to the concept of representative governments. Religious liberty and freedom of conscience led to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, and all the other out-workings of political and social freedom.

Transformational

There is no doubt that the Reformation in Europe during the 16th century was one of the most important epochs in the history of the world. The Reformation gave us the Bible - now freely available in our own languages. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is life-changing, history-making and nation-transforming. The Reformers' teaching on the Depravity of Man, the Covenant and Church Government, influenced many positive political and social developments and advanced liberty throughout the Western world and beyond, establishing checks and balances, the separation of powers and constitutional authority.

Picture5Rediscover Your Reformation Roots

All of us are beneficiaries of this tremendous movement for faith and freedom. If you love liberty, you will need to re-examine the history and principles of the Reformation. Visit www.ReformationSA.org for inspirational character studies and articles on the doctrines and events which God used to transform whole nations and bring about the greatest spiritual Revivals ever known.

Reformation Day Celebration - Monday, 31 October

If Revival is the prayer of your heart, and you live near Cape Town, then join us in Franschhoek, 31 October for the Reformation Celebration service and Eurochor concert. As 31 October is Reformation Day, we will also have a guided tour of the Huguenot Museum and a Reformation Day Celebration service at the Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek. For more details, phone: 021-689-4480, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit www.ReformationSA.org website. You can also join the event on Reformation 500 Facebook page and share it on social media.

"Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…" Romans 12:2
 

Resources for Reformation

Our Mission has been producing books and audio-visual materials to empower churches dedicated to working for Reformation and praying for Revival. These strategic resources include: The Greatest Century of Reformation; The Greatest Century of Missions, The Power of Prayer Handbook; Reforming Our Families; Biblical Principles for Africa; Practical Discipleship; Discipleship Training Manual; Reformation FIRE Manual; Victorious Christians – Who Changed the World, War Against God, Church History Survey boxset, Church History Overview MP3, The Great Commission Course Audio and Data boxset and the Church History Manual. Many of these are also available as E-books.


Reformation Day Celebration in Franschhoek

Does your church, or school, plan to celebrate the Reformation this October? If you are in the Cape Town area, please join us for the Reformation and Revival events, including Guided Tours of the Huguenot Museum (10-12am and 2-3pm) and Reformation Day Celebration service at the Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek at 12 noon, and Eurochor concert at 3:30pm at the NGK (Dutch Reformed Church) in Franschhoek, 31 October, or invite Reformation speakers to address your school or church.


Reformation Films

Christian Liberty Books also has inspiring Reformation films such as: Luther, Martin Luther and William Tyndale – God's Outlaw, which you could show to your cell group, youth group, school or college.

Social Media for Spiritual Revival

If you want to transform your community, and you are praying for Revival, then contact The Reformation Society for resources you can use to inspire your family, school and congregation with examples of excellence. Please also visit the Reformation 500 Facebook page and www.ReformationSA.org website.

"Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?" Psalm 85:6

Dr. Peter Hammond
Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: www.ReformationSA.org
Website: www.reform500.org

See also:

95 Theses for Reformation Today
31 October is Reformation Day
Why Celebrate the Reformation?
Reformation and Desecration?
Are You Praying for Revival?
The Reformation Roots of Western Civilisation
Africa Reformation Overland Mission 

 
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