This October marks the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Many articles have already been posted throughout this year bringing attention to the events that dramatically shaped the New Testament church as we know her today. From the shots John Wycliffe fired in the 14th Century calling for the church to reform, to Martin Luther’s nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the chapel door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517, the Reformation has a rich legacy of faithful followers of Jesus who rested in one primary reality, returning to the Word of God. Through the month of October I wish to shine light on the eternal doctrines found in the Holy Word of God that truly shaped the reformers who lead in the effort to see the Church return to her original nature. There is a long historical narrative explaining the heresy found in the church in the 16th Century. There are incredible stories of faithfulness from those who sought to make Christ and His Word primary in the church. There are tragic stories of death, persecution, and abuse from within the church. And there are five central doctrines, known as the five solas of the Reformation, that shaped the church and brought her into a new era of faithfulness, and those doctrines still matter for the church today.
The Five Solas of the Reformation
1. Sola Scriptura (“scripture alone”), the Bible alone is our highest authority.
2. Sola Fide (“faith alone”), we are saved solely through faith in Christ Jesus.
3. Sola Gratia (“grace alone”), only by grace and not by our works is salvation possible.
4. Solus Christus (“through Christ alone”), Jesus alone has paid the penalty of sin.
5. Soli Deo Gloria (“to God be the glory alone”), our goal in life is to glorify God.
In reality, the call to reform, first to the believer and then to the church, still exists today. The Holy Spirit of God is alive and active using the Holy Word of God to constantly shape us into the image of the Holy Son of God. Reform is necessary because our hearts are sinful, our churches are so often misguided, and our world is searching for truth and hope. I hope that you are enthusiastic about searching the rich truths found in these eternal doctrines that shaped one of the greatest moments in history. My prayer is that we will, in unity, draw close to Christ and His Word during the month of October as we journey through the doctrines of the Reformation.
Soli Deo Gloria!
This coming Sunday, September 17th, Seminole FBC will be embracing a very important new ministry, catechism. This new journey will take the complete church (children through adults) into a 52 week comprehensive study on the basic tenets of the Christian faith as given to us by the Word of God. It matters! It eternally matters! The assimilation of biblical theology and doctrine is a discipline that the church cannot afford to get wrong or become apathetic in. So, we have this amazing journey of catechism that will unify the body of Christ and give us the building blocks that will allow our faith to flourish and our church to be grounded in truth.
What is Catechism?
Catechism is a doctrinal manual used in the Christian church to teach Biblical truth in an orderly way. Usually this is done in the form of questions and answers. Throughout the New Testament we see the greek word katecheo (meaning to teach or instruct) which forms the english word “catechize”. Catechesis has been used to deliver Biblical doctrine since the birth of the church. Catechesis flourished between the second and sixth century in the church but would soon wane as the church fell to the indulgences of the world. However, there would be a resurgence of catechesis in the church shortly after the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers called for a return to this process of instruction in the church. The Baptist Catechism was first put forth in 1689 in Great Britain, modeled after the Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1646. Since that time many versions of catechism have been drafted but the practice of catechesis in the church has become mostly forgotten.
Why use Catechism?
There is a clear Biblical pattern of teaching doctrine by way of catechesis in scripture. To cite just a few, in Acts 2:42 we read, “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching.” 2 Thessalonians says, “Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us.” And in Ephesians 4: 13-14 we receive these words “attain to the unity of…the knowledge of the Son of God…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine.” When it comes to shaping the hearts of believers with Biblical doctrine and theology we can be assured that the practice of catechesis is more than just promising, it is practical and powerful.
My hope and prayer is that the journey of catechesis would prove to be fruitful for the church. We are going to have great fellowship and great unity as we embrace the powerful Word of our faith though catechism. Whether you are a new believer, a long time saint, or someone sorting through questions about Jesus, we hope that you will join us each Sunday night for Catechism. It’s going to be a blast!!
To God alone be the glory!