In 1517 on October 31st, Martin Luther sparked a movement, unbeknownst to himself, that would arise as a mighty fire influencing the Western world for generations, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ that was re-discovered by the Reformers has had a worldwide impact that only eternity itself will ultimately unveil. Hence, October is Reformation month.
It is a sad testimony today that anyone who merely claims faithfulness to Christ is hailed as a true Christian by folks from all the surrounding quarters both within and without the myriad denominations. In conversations today, it is often the case that you will hear the familiar refrain: “Oh, we all believe in the same God,” or “Oh, how I love Jesus.” In the spirit of ecumenism, theological allegiances are played down. We have this wide tent mentality that is inclusive.
Anyone that names the Name of Christ is considered a Christian, irrespective of the beliefs and practices that they advocate. If we could all just get along, things would be so much better! Or so goes the mantra: “After all, jesus [lower case intentional] died for all of us” and “Jesus wants us all to be one.” Nobody pauses to ask the fundamental question: “Which jesus are we talking about?” The jesus [lower case intentional] of Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Arminianism, Methodism, Adventism, etc., etc., is not the Jesus of the New Testament. Far from it!
In the time of the sixteenth-century Reformation, in several countries or states, it was likely that you would be put to trial, and even suffer martyrdom for the correct belief. At present, we may ask: “Where are all the martyrs?” or similarly, “Where are all the Reformers?” Today, we whitewash over our differences and there is almost no variance in our respective commitments as we strive to bring “Christianity” down to its lowest common denominator. “Catholics and Protestants” shout the masses, “believe in the same God!” I have news for you. No, they don’t! Not even close.
Roman Catholicism is Popery pure and simple. It is a caricature of Christianity. It is a reward system that is blatantly opposed to the evangel. With no authentic gospel in its ranks, it is a bastardization of the New Testament faith. It has “Christian” garb but is inwardly full of dead men’s bones [figuratively and literally]. The Council of Trent condemned the belief in the Pauline gospel of Justification by faith alone. How then can it be authentic Christianity? Simply put, it isn’t!
During Mary Tudor’s reign in the sixteenth century, 282 martyrs were made by her absolute hatred of evangelical faith. No surprise that she remains known down the centuries as “Bloody Mary.” This was a period of 45 gruesome months. From February 4, 1555, until November 10, 1558, there were 226 men and 56 women burnt as heretics. Correct belief is worth dying for. At least it was for these faithful folks who, as the martyrs of Revelation 12, loved the Lord more than they loved life itself! What a testimony!
How can I, as an evangelical, converted by the true gospel of God’s grace, compromise on the very gospel that determines my eternal salvation? How can one call Roman Papists, Arminianists, Adventists, Methodists true Christians, when in another era, those with similar beliefs as those mentioned, would have likely put one to death? And, even if they were to spare one’s life, it nonetheless remains true that they would have blasphemed the Lord with their false beliefs. How can one remain silent?
Mary’s martyrs included many unnamed simple folks that remained steadfast in the face of marauding bishops and interrogators who gleefully sought their deaths. If the heretic was a bishop or high prelate, the Roman henchmen urged for the recantation of evangelical belief and the embracing of Popery, so they could use these examples to tempt others to apostatize.
How they rejoiced when Thomas Cranmer in a moment of weakness signed their dreaded documents professing allegiance to Rome. As an elect believer, however, God plagued his soul and when he was repentant, and finally charged to die as a Martyr, he confessed openly that what he wrote with the hand was contrary to his heart, and thus, his hand would burn first.
Other examples, such as Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, spur me on to stand for the distinct evangelical doctrines recovered in the Reformation era. Even though we live in peaceful times, and extremely few of us are in danger of dying for our faith, we nevertheless, should not forget the martyrs of bygone days.
The gospel they died for was the truth as it is in Jesus. It was a declaration from above that sinners will be rescued and redeemed from their utmost hatred of God and their blatant rebellion against Him. This Pauline gospel is about the saving of a chosen people for the glory of the Triune God. It is based on an eternal covenant God made within the immanent trinity before the universe existed. In time, this covenant plan was revealed to be based on the incarnate life, obedience, and death, and resurrection of Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. God the Son took on human nature and, in His person, became the vicarious savior of His people.
The blessed truths of unconditional election, substitutionary atonement, irresistible grace, and the perseverance and preservation of totally depraved sinners are the bedrock of this biblical gospel. That Christ’s saving work was accepted by God on the behalf of elect sinners is shown in the blessed resurrection and in the continuing intercession Christ is making for His people. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, based on Scripture alone, to the Glory of God alone.
Salvation is all of one cloth. It is not the cloth of Romanism, Pelagianism, Arminianism, Mormonism, Adventism, or Methodism. The cloth is one, and that cloth is pure unadulterated Calvinism. This is short-hand for the saving truths of the gospel. And, as B. B. Warfield said: “Calvinism thus emerges to our sight as nothing more or less than the hope of the World!”
Long Live the Reformation.