Dear Hope Family,
This coming Sunday, October 27th, is an interesting day on the church calendar as it marks Reformation Sunday – a day on which we remember and celebrate the goodness and free-ness of the good news about Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, which the Protestant Reformers “re-discovered” and returned to central, crucial focus for the church and the world. Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31st, 1517 was the catalyst that sparked the Reformation and the restoration of the doctrines of grace that animate and drive our lives and ministry at Hope Church.
What on earth, you may wonder, is Reformed Theology? What difference does it make, you may have forgotten, to be Reformed?
Reformed Theology provides a systematic, simple, and biblical answer to the question, “What do we mean when we confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of sinners?” Five Latin phrases have been used from the 1500s forward to summarize and make accessible the simple wonder of the Gospel that the Reformation returned to prominence:
- Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura) – the Bible is the unique, authoritative witness to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- Christ Alone (Solus Christus) – Christ alone is the Rescuer, Redeemer, and Savior of sinners.
- Grace Alone (Sola Gratia) – Grace alone saves; sinners contribute nothing to their redemption but their need and sinfulness! We neither save ourselves with a little bit of help from Jesus nor does Christ save us with a little bit of assistance from us. The work of redemption is a free gift of grace – not a wage or reward.
- Faith Alone (Sola Fide) – We receive the finished work of Christ as a gracious gift simply by placing our faith in His work. Faith is the empty hand that reaches for and receives the gracious gift.
- Glory to God Alone (Soli Deo Gloria) – When we engage the Scriptures, find access to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and receive his gracious gift of redemption by faith alone, the cry of our hearts in worship is precisely this: Glory to God Alone! We boast not in our decision, ingenuity, or ability; we boast in the Lord. Salvation belongs to Him. Restored to intimate fellowship with Him and to our intended humanity, we magnify His name and glorify His grace.
The difference is unmistakable: the relief, the assurance, and the delight of God saving sinners like me and you set us free from the abiding anxiety of wondering if we have, indeed, done enough and if we are holding on to God well enough. We are running in the paths of His commands because He has set our hearts free.
This Sunday, Acts 15 is a timely and appropriate passage for us to rediscover the simple wonder of the Gospel and be empowered to give an appropriate response. I am looking forward to gathering with you all and expressing the cry of our hearts together: Soli Deo Gloria!
Grace and peace,