Friday 31 October is the birthday of the Evangelical churches. On 31 October 1517 Dr Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation with his bold stand at the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
Western civilisation has been blessed with the greatest freedoms, productivity and prosperity ever known in history. The liberty, standards of justice and creativity enjoyed in Western civilisation is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.
Our Lord Jesus Christ taught: "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:33
It was 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. 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.
"Unless I am 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."
"We are in danger of forgetting truths for which previous generations gave their lives." Bishop Stephen Bradley
Are our churches changing the world, or is the world changing our churches?
If Martin Luther, John Calvin, R. C. Ryle, D. L. Moody or Charles Spurgeon were to walk into our Sunday morning service, what would they think? Would they be shocked at the type of clothes worn? Would they be able to recognise any of the great hymns of the Faith, or have drums and choruses taken over in your congregation?
What would they think of the preaching? Is the Word of God faithfully expounded? Or has anti-nomianism and existentialism taken over? Would they hear the Faith once delivered unto the saints or a cheap grace and easy believism? Would they find worship or worldliness? Spirituality or sensationalism? Education or entertainment? Would they find a congregation or an audience?
Were some of these 19th Century believers to visit our church would they find us praying or playing?
We in South Africa are at a critical point. Both church and society are facing a multitude of serious crises that threaten not only our freedoms, but our very lives.
Over 3,000 white farmers, and their family members, have been murdered in the last 18 years, yet the Commandos have been dismantled. For over two and a half centuries the Commandos provided security for remote farmsteads. Now this protection is being removed. At the same time, the Firearms Control Act, which is seen in many circles as a prelude to the disarmament of many civilians, has made it very difficult for any civilian to obtain a firearm for self-defence.
Along with the crime wave, with an average of 20,000 murders a year, has come an explosion of the drug epidemic. More and more ministries are having to expend considerable time and resources on dealing with more and more drug addicts and victims of crime and violence.
2013 is the Livingstone bicentennial. The 200th anniversary of the birth of David Livingstone is a unique opportunity to inspire greater Missionary vision, Evangelistic zeal and enthusiasm for applying the Lordship of Christ to all areas of life.
The sufferings and sacrifices of Dr. David Livingstone, and his perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, is a most inspiring example of excellence. Missionary pioneer pathfinder, Dr. David Livingstone was the best friend Africa ever had. He dedicated his life to ending the slave trade and opening up Africa for the Gospel.
Inspired by William Carey's challenge: "Expect great things from God! Attempt great things for God!"
Frontline Fellowship is launching a series of Great Commission projects.
Last year, St. Georges Cathedral, in Cape Town advertised for Reformation Sunday: an Interfaith service!
A prominent church in Cape Town advertised NIGHTMARE - A Halloween party for youth at their church for Halloween!
At a major Evangelistic conference, a pastor greeted the people with the Islamic greeting: "Salaam-Alaikum"! And one of the choirs sang a Hymn of praise to Nelson Mandela, along with clenched fists!
Officials involved in a Christian university declared that they are "neutral" on the matter of abortion and Creation, but include faculty members who are pro-choice on the matter of abortion and who subscribe to evolution. Despite their claims of neutrality, a highly qualified individual was rejected from consideration for the faculty because she was, in their words: "a Creation theorist"!
The Need for Holding a Series of Church Council Meetings
Since early Church History, the global Body of Christ has convened Church Councils with representatives from many nations to determine by the consensus wisdom of Church's leaders (all were Bishops in the first 1000 plus years), which side of the controversial doctrinal positions was Biblical and true, and which side was false and worthy of condemnation by the Church's leadership. The first Church Council was the Council of Nicea in 325AD where the full Deity of Christ was upheld. The Church has had to go through this process throughout her history of official Church Councils periodically clarifying what it considered to be true, Biblical doctrine, or heresy.
Controversies Which Confront Us
In this 21st century, 24 issues have risen to the surface as controversial issues, all of which arose from within Evangelical and Bible-believing sections of the greater Body of Christ worldwide. Over the past four decades, Dr. Jay Grimstead has gathered together various groups of Theologians from a wide range of denominations to discuss each of these 24 issues as they emerged into church life. Those Theological teams have boiled down each issue into its salient points, then have expressed the Biblical position on each key point in clear, concise creedal statements of "Affirmations and Denials" as theological documents to be presented to the Global Body of Christ for consideration.
The Church Needs a New Reformation
We desperately want God to bless our countries. However, we cannot expect a Holy God to bless those who are in rebellion to His Laws. As in the days of the Reformers in the 16th century, today we are facing a complex series of both internal and external threats.
Facing the Threats
Internally we are facing a renaissance of paganism. Externally we are facing an increasingly aggressive and radical form of Islamic Jihad. Even more seriously, there is a severe crisis in our churches. Most of our people are ignorant of history, and have a very superficial grasp of Scripture. As a result, many professing Christians are compromising, cowardly and ineffective. Our churches are filled with weak, worldly, lukewarm and inactive members. The salt has lost its flavour, and all too often the light is being hid under a bushel.
Hijacked by Humanism
With many Christians in defeat and retreat, we are facing a resurgent paganism, a pervasive humanism and an aggressive Islamic radicalism. It would appear that humanism has hijacked many churches. Theistic Evolution is uncritically accepted, worldly entertainment and a degenerate form of music predominates in all too many youth groups. Antinomianism and Egalitarianism are pervasive. All too many churches seem to be increasingly conformed to the world, rather than transformed by the renewing of their minds.
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues standing before the Throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying: Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the Throne and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7: 9-10
The great era of missionary advance was the 19th century. The considered judgement of church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette is that: “Never had any other set of ideas, religious or secular, been propagated over so wide an area by so many professional agents maintained by the unconstrained donations of so many millions of individuals.”
At the beginning of the 19th century, Protestant Christianity was concentrated in Europe and North America. Except for some small Christian enclaves, Asia was almost untouched by the Gospel. Africa was still the “dark continent” - except for the ancient Copts in Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and a small number of Dutch settlers at the Southernmost tip of Africa, at the Cape of Good Hope.
To listen to this message as presented at the Reformation 500 Celebration service, 31 October 2017, at the Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek, South Africa, click here, or find on www.frontlinemissionsa.org website Sermon.Audio link.
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The Solas that Shattered the Darkness
Post Tenebras Lux! After darkness… light! The Protestant Reformation launched by Professor Martin Luther 500 years ago in Wittenberg, was encapsulated in the Five Sola battle cries: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see and ask for the old paths, where the good way is and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls…” Jeremiah 6:16
The first step to reforming the church is personal Reformation.
"Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?"
The roots of the Reformation are found in Martin Luther’s quest for peace with God, hunger and thirst for righteousness. Seeking first the Kingdom of God, his integrity as a professor of the University, duty as a doctor of the Scriptures to study, teach and defend the Holy Scriptures, working through Psalms, Galatians and Romans. This gave him the conviction and courage to challenge the entire religious, political and social order.
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…”
2 Chronicles 16:9