Why the Reformation is Not Over
April 16, 2016 Leave a comment
This is the first post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here.
Speaker: Ligon Duncan Key text: N/A
Next year marks the 500th anniversary of the events that launched the Protestant Reformation. Is the Reformation over? No it is not! There are still disagreements between the Catholic Church and Protestant churches over essential doctrines. The concerns and prescriptions of the Reformers were valid then and are just as relevant today. There is a continuing need for biblical teaching on salvation, worship, sacraments, ecclesiology, and more.
The Reformers should be a critique to the Reformed just as they are to the Catholic Church. We are a part of the problem. Some of the false doctrines have slowly crept into the Protestant churches in more subtle forms. The issues that led to a call for Reformation then are still present today, even in evangelical congregations. The most central of these issues is imputation.
Five Reformation Concerns:
- The Bible alone is the sole authority for life and practice
The soul of the church is worship and salvation. The body of the church is composed of the sacraments and church government. Scripture is the foundation for all of it. Two things comprise true Christianity: 1) knowledge of the mode of worship and 2) knowledge of salvation. It is in Scripture alone that we can find what God desires and commands in these two areas.
- Worship must be in accordance with the Scripture
For Calvin, one of the primary sins of Catholicism was idolatry in worship. True worship must be regulated by Scripture. Anything done in an attempt or with an intent to honor God, but not found in Scripture, is idolatry. If we are going to worship biblically, it must be ordered by and filled with the Bible. We should be a people who sing the Bible, pray the Bible, read the Bible, and preach the Bible. Preaching is God’s prime, appointed instrument for building up the church. Evangelistic and expositional preaching go together. Prayer, both individual and corporate, must be filled with Scripture. Songs should be like the Psalms: full of rich, inspirational content and covering the entire range of human emotions.
- Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone
God imputes the righteousness of Christ to the saved as if it was his/her own. For the Reformers, justification was important for both salvation and assurance. The fundamental difference between Catholics and Protestants: we define justification differently. For Catholics, it is imparted and cooperative with the sacraments. For Protestants, is is imputed and operative apart from any other works or means.
- Proper understanding of the two sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper)
Sacraments are signs of the promises of the Word. The means of grace don’t give us anything over and above what we already have in Christ. They are meant to strengthen the faith of believers, not impart faith. They are visible words. The sacraments allow us to see, taste, touch, and smell the promises we hear in Scripture.
- Restoration of the pastoral office
The preaching and teaching is central to the role and office of pastor. Church authority in the Bible is always exercised in a plurality under the authority of Scripture. The claim to papal authority is the most schismatic event in Christian history and is still the biggest barrier to universal church unity. There is no head of the church except for the Lord Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we must constantly be evaluating ourselves to make sure we are inline with the truth of Scripture. The central problem facing the church is always in the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.
Learn It. Love It. Live It.
[image credit: @t4gonline on Twitter]