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 now almost universally acknowledged principles of religious freedom, liberty of conscience, the rule of law, separation of powers and constitutionally limited Republics were unthinkable before the Reformation. The Reformers fought for the principles that Scripture alone is our final authority, Christ alone is the head of the Church and justification is by God's grace alone, on the basis of the finished work of Christ, received by faith alone.
Few people today realise that the first Bibles printed into English had to be smuggled into England, and that the Bible translator, William Tyndale, was burnt at the stake for the crime of translating the Bible into English.
Seven fathers and mothers were burned alive at Coventry for teaching the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Creed to their children in English.
The sacrifices made by the Reformers, and the far-reaching impact of their courageous application of the Word of God to every area of life, needs to be rediscovered.
The Christian Church has made more positive changes on earth than any other force or movement in history. Most of the languages of the world were first codified and put into writing by Christian missionaries. More schools and universities have been started by Christians than by any other religion, nation or group.
The elevation of women from the degrading exploitation of polygamy and subservience was a Christian achievement. The Christian reformers and missionaries succeeded in bringing about the abolition of slavery, cannibalism, child sacrifice and widow burning. The Christian Church has, throughout history, been the supreme human force in restraining man's inhumanity towards man.
Almost every civilisation and culture had slavery and human sacrifice before the Christian influence came in. Those countries which enjoy the most civil liberties are generally those lands where the Gospel of Christ has penetrated the most.
The Gospel of Christ is life-changing, history making and nation transforming! If it doesn't change your life and the lives of those around you, then it's not the Biblical Gospel.
Every 31 October, we organise a Reformation Conference to celebrate the heritage of faith and freedom which God has blessed us with through Reformers like John Wycliffe, John Hus, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, John Knox and William Tyndale.
It was some years ago when a Frontline Fellowship mission team visited a remote village in Cuando-Cubango province in Angola. Our missionaries were astounded to see the village observing 31 October as Reformation Day. The school children had specially designed big display boards, with hand-drawn pictures of Martin Luther and other Reformers, and the great battle cries of the Reformation Scripture alone, grace alone, Christ alone, faith alone!
We were challenged that if Ovimbundu Christians in a remote part of Angola could observe Reformation Day, then so should we who have benefitted so greatly from this most important epoch in world history.
On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis in Wittenberg. By God's grace, Luther's courageous act of challenging corruption and unBiblical heresies, launched the Great Reformation.
"Unless I am convinced by Scripture or 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." Martin Luther
The Reformation Celebration includes action-packed, power point presentations aimed at celebrating this dynamic period of Church history. It will also present a positive and practical programme of action to implement Reformation principles in our own lives, families, churches and society today.
"Contend for the Faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." Jude 3
Visit www.ReformationSA.org for great resources including books, CD's, lectures, powerpoints and films to inspire and involve your family, congregation, school and community in working and praying for Reformation and Revival today.
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa