Pastoral Exhortation

Why “Reformation Sunday”?

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 25 October 2015

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Every year, we set apart the last Sunday of October as “Reformation Sunday.” We take time to remember the persons and events that were part of the 16th Century Reformation. Why do we commemorate something that happened almost 500 years ago?

Today, we remember the Reformation for the following reasons:

  1. To acknowledge and to give thanks to God for the mighty work of His Spirit that brought about the Reformation.
  2. To recognise and to give thanks to God for Martin Luther, whose nailing of his ninety-five theses against the errors of Roman Catholic teachings and practices to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517 set ablaze the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.
  3. To recognise and to give thanks to God for Martin Luther, whose nailing of his ninety-five theses against the errors of Roman Catholic teachings and practices to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517 set ablaze the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.
    • Some of the forerunners of the Reformation were John Wycliffe (1320-1384), John Huss (1369-1414), Jerome Savonarola (1452-1498).
    • Some of the Reformers were Martin Luther (1483–1546), Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1528), Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), William Tyndale (1494–1536), Patrick Hamilton (died 1528), John Calvin (1509–1564), John Knox (1513– 1572), John Foxe (1516–1587).
    • Many who stood for Christ and His Word against the Roman Catholic errors were martyred. In England, among those burned at the stake were William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer, John Rogers (1505–1555), Nicholas Ridley (1500–1555), Hugh Latimer (1487 –1555), John Hooper (1495–1555), Thomas Bilney (1495–1531), John Bradford (1510–1555), John Philpot (1516–1555), Rowland Taylor (1510 –1555).
    • Many more suffered martyrdom in other parts of Europe as well for being part of the Reformation movement. Because of their unflinching stand for the Word of God, we today have the light of the Gospel in our hearts and minds. Let us be thankful to God for raising and empowering such men of faith, knowledge and courage, such as the Reformers.
    • Many more suffered martyrdom in other parts of Europe as well for being part of the Reformation movement. Because of their unflinching stand for the Word of God, we today have the light of the Gospel in our hearts and minds. Let us be thankful to God for raising and empowering such men of faith, knowledge and courage, such as the Reformers.
  4. To gratefully affirm the monumental significance and necessity of the truths of the Scriptures, even the reformed doctrines, which have been expounded and propagated around the world for the salvation of sinners and the edification of the church.
    • Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone): The Bible alone is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice
    • Sola Gratia (Grace alone): Salvation is by the grace of God alone
    • Sola Fide (Faith alone): Salvation is through faith alone in Jesus Christ
    • Solus Christus (Christ alone): Jesus Christ alone is the Saviour, Mediator and Head of the church
    • Soli Deo Gloria (To the glory of God alone): Our faith and life are for the glory of God alone
    • Justification by Faith
    • Priesthood of Believers (not just the priests of the Catholic church)
    • The Sacraments – Baptism and Holy Communion – as Means of Grace
    • Five Points of Calvinism: (i) Total Depravity, (ii) Unconditional Election, (iii) Limited Atonement, (iv) Irresistible Grace, and (v) Perseverance of Saints
    • To have a better insight of the wonderful truths of the Scriptures that emerged out of the Reformation, one should refer to the Westminster Confession of Faith (our church’s doctrines are in accordance with this Confession of Faith). In 33 chapters, WCF expounds the great doctrines such as the Holy Scripture, God, and Holy Trinity, God’s Eternal Decree, Creation, Providence, Fall of Man, Sin, and Punishment, God’s Covenant with Man; Christ the Mediator; Free Will; Effectual Calling, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, Saving Faith, Repentance unto Life; Good Works, Perseverance Of the Saints, Assurance Of Grace and Salvation, Law Of God, Christian Liberty, and Liberty Of Conscience, Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day, Lawful Oaths and Vows, the Civil Magistrate, Marriage and Divorce, Church, Communion Of Saints, Sacraments, Baptism, Lord’s Supper, Church Censures, Synods and Councils, State Of Men after Death, and Resurrection Of the Dead, and Last Judgment.
  5. To gratefully avow ourselves to safeguard and propagate the truth of salvation and all of God’s good will and purposes revealed in the Bible:
    • The modern protestant Christians hardly know or appreciate the battle fought and won by the Reformers. In fact, many churches are in danger of forgetting the truths for which the Reformers gave their lives. We must avoid that danger. We must continually tell the story of the Reformation and declare the truths that were discovered, lest our generation and the next might once again lose them.
  6. To rouse the present church to be vigilant and also to be ever battle-ready against all forms of attack launched against the church by Satan and his cronies:
    • Just as the church of yesteryear fought her battles, the church of our time must also valiantly and steadfastly fight her battles against all unbiblical teachings and ungodly practices that creep into the church.
    • The Reformation has been a battle for the Gospel and the Bible. For many years since the Reformation, the protestant churches everywhere had a steadfast faith and commitment to the truth of Scripture. But in recent times, the church is again called to join the fray to defend the Bible as God’s perfect Word for ever.
    • By the end of the 17th Century, the attacks against the Bible began with what is then known as Higher Criticism. Scholars in institutions of higher learning and seminaries started to question the truthfulness and authority of Scripture. This continues to plague many institutions of higher learning and has crept into some protestant denominations and taken deep roots.
    • There is also a more treacherous situation in the modern protestant churches. Among those who say the Bible is the Word of God, there is a growing trend to refer to the Bible as God’s Word only in a superficial manner, and deny its present perfection, absolute trustworthiness and indisputable authority over our faith and practice. Such an attitude toward God’s Word is very sinister and insidious. Such low and mean view of the Bible gives rise to false doctrines, materialism, fornication, homosexuality and all other ungodly behaviour. It must not be tolerated among us. We must always have high reverence and utter submission to God’s eternal Word.
  7. “For the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9)!