The Fire Still Burns
Five hundred years ago, the Lord began a pivotal chapter in the life of Christ’s Church called the Reformation. God, in his faithfulness and sovereignty, raised up willing servants to protect and proclaim the gorgeous gospel of grace, one of the most prominent being Martin Luther, as well as many faithful others. This lawyer-turned-monk was used mightily in many different ways to fan the flame of the gospel which had almost been extinguished.
Martin Luther elevated the Scriptures and was intent on the common person having them in their own language. He wrote songs to worship our God that are still sung today. He preached passionately and adamantly from God’s Word believing its effective power on the hearer. He was integral to the history of the Church in his generation, igniting a fire of truth that God has kept burning way beyond his lifetime. We as twenty-first century believers are now tasked with ensuring that the pure gospel is protected in our generation.
Dr. R. C. Sproul warns and exhorts us in the above clip;
We celebrate what God did through Martin Luther and the other reformers 500 years ago! For centuries, the Church has been known favorably as an agent of good throughout society. Countless universities, hospitals, and orphanages trace their origins back to biblical, Christian convictions. Believers were compelled to practically help the world and the people around them, and they did just that. The Church’s reputation of kindness, love, and good will toward fellow man went forth powerfully and widely, all in the name of Jesus.
Fire of Repentance
However, today’s postmodern, western Church finds itself in a very different situation. We are instead perceived as unloving, intolerant, angry, bigoted, antiquated, political, and close-minded (to name a few). Our post-Christian world demands that the Church adapt and change based on the culture surrounding it. However the call on the Church is to “always be reforming according to the Word of God.” Therein lies the extreme conflict.
We as individuals and as a whole must always (and only) be reforming according to the Word of God! One of Martin Luther’s biggest fears was that the Church would forget the gospel. Even in his final sermon at Wittenberg, he exhorted the people to remain true to it and to never distort it. He was rightly convinced that each and every generation would need a reformation. To paraphrase Luther’s first of his 95 Theses: the entire life of the believer is one of repentance. If we want to remain true to the purity of the gospel, the Church needs to continually be in a state of repentance.
Fire of Hope
As bleak as the western Christian landscape appears, we still have hope. If we examine the global Church, we find that almost one-third of the world’s population claims to be believers in Jesus Christ. The gospel is blazing through entire continents like South and Central America, Africa, and much of Asia. The Holy Spirit is lighting a fire in people’s hearts that is unquenchable and unstoppable even in the midst of extreme persecution and threat of death.
The fire still burns and we have hope.
Why? Because God is on his throne. God is in control. God is the ultimate authority. God is sovereign. God already knows the end of the story. God is the victor. God is greater than he who is in the world. God is our hope. In the final minutes of the film, Dr. Sproul says,
In order to maintain this proper biblical perspective, the modern-day Church has to know the Scriptures and the God who faithfully reveals himself in and through them. Mini-reformations are possible every time our Bibles are open.
May biblical authority and gospel centrality define our individual lives and the life of the church! May there be a renewed commitment to widespread biblical literacy in the church. May the Holy Spirit give people an uncontrollable desire to know the Scriptures. May Jesus ignite a passion for sharing our faith in gentleness and love even in the midst of probable persecution. May the true, biblical Jesus be exalted on the throne of hearts across this globe. And let it start with us.
Let the fire burn!
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Courtney Cherest currently resides outside of Washington, D.C. and serves as the Communications Director at a local church in the area. She earned her bachelor's degree in biblical studies in 2003.
By God's grace, Courtney has been able to work in communications and leadership with incredible ministries and organizations across the country.