Reflections on The Reformation: Our Gospel Sharing Motivation and Message
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the movement that we know as “The Reformation”. It all started when Martin Luther developed his Ninety-Five Thesis which was written to confront the corrupt practices and doctrines in the church that had ventured away from the biblical Gospel. This bold confrontation resulted in a movement to clarify and proclaim the essential and foundational truths of the Christian faith and Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was out of this period that the “Five Solas” of the Protestant Church were developed to demonstrate the central Biblical truths of the doctrine of salvation and the Gospel. These solas are not just lofty doctrinal statements that are outdated for our times but are foundational Biblical pillars of timeless truth that should inform our beliefs and practices today. The five solas can be of tremendous help for us in our efforts to share the Gospel as they define our motivation and message when sharing Christ with others. Our mission at The League is to mobilize and equip Christians to Read, Carry, and Share the Word. By knowing the solas of The Reformation, we can be motivated to share a clear and biblical message of salvation with those who God has called us to reach with the good news of Jesus Christ.
The Motivation for Our Message: Soli Deo Gloria
The main motivation for sharing the Gospel with others lies within this sola which means “glory to God alone”. Everything we do in the Christian life, including sharing the Gospel, has one magnificent motive - to glorify God. The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” God is first and foremost in all that He does motivated to bring glory to Himself. As His people bringing glory to God should also be our ultimate motive in all we do. When we share the Gospel with people we glorify God by telling them about His attributes of holiness, justice, and wrath along with His grace, mercy, and love. When we share the Gospel with others we bring glory to God because we declare His excellencies to a lost world. Therefore, whenever we share the Gospel with others, we can rejoice regardless of the response we receive because our mission to glorify God by declaring His character has been accomplished. May all we do in the Christian life, including sharing the Gospel, be motivated by desiring to see the lost come to salvation in Christ but ultimately to glorify our God. So, whether someone accepts or rejects Christ remember that your faithfulness to declare the greatness of God brings glory to Him which is what you were created to do. Let’s live for God’s glory alone.
The Source of Our Message: Sola Scriptura
The next sola of The Reformation means “by Scripture alone”. Our source for sharing The Gospel does not come from popular opinions or from within ourselves. The Reformers preached that the only reliable source of truth was God’s inspired, authoritative, and sufficient Word. If you are ever wondering where your message should come from, go to God’s Word. II Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The Reformers got it right! God’s Word is all we need to know God, to know truth, and to share the Gospel message accurately. It should be God’s Word that we share with others when we share the Gospel. It is so comforting to know that we are fully equipped to do God’s Work in evangelism because God has given us His Word. Opinions of the day or even truth conceived from within ourselves are not sufficient to save. We don’t need to reinvent or reform the Gospel message to suit our times. We simply must share the truth of the Gospel that is found in God’s Word alone.
The Content of Our Message: Sola Christo, Gratia, Fide
We must accept our motive to glorify God in all we do and find the source of our message in Scripture alone. But what is the message that we are to share? The remaining solas will help us to share a clear, concise, and accurate Gospel message rooted in Scripture for the glory of God.
First off, salvation is found in Christ alone. No other person or thing can save anyone. There is no other religious figure no matter how popular or powerful that can grant eternal life. Jesus said in John 14:6 that HE HIMSELF ALONE is the only way to heaven. The Reformers made it clear that all roads do not lead to heaven. Only Christ does. The world we live in says that everyone must find their own way but that philosophy will not save anyone unless someone finds their way to heaven in Jesus! Any religion that claims that Jesus is “a way” instead of “the way” to heaven disregards the exact teaching of Jesus. As God’s people we have the great privilege and responsibility to reform people’s thinking and point them to salvation in Christ alone.
Second, salvation is by grace alone. Another lie of false religions is that somehow we can earn salvation by good works. Scripture makes it clear that we are all sinners and that as sinners we can do nothing good enough to impress a pure and holy God. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace that cannot be earned by human effort. The Reformers rejected the notion that participation in church activates, good deeds, giving money, and righteous acts could save anyone. Instead they proclaimed the Biblical truth that salvation is by God’s grace as a gift to undeserving sinners. What is grace? It is unmerited favor. In our pride, we often want to take credit for the things we do, so we work hard in order to achieve great things. But this won’t work for salvation. Those who are saved are saved only by the grace and kindness of God. As God’s people, we have the great privilege and responsibility to reform people’s thinking and point them to recognize that salvation is by grace alone.
Last, salvation is through faith alone. What is faith? It is trust. But trust in who or what? The Scripture says that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?”, Paul responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” When someone exercises faith in Jesus they are trusting in Jesus alone to be their only way to heaven and trusting that His work on the cross is the only sufficient provision of their salvation. When one trusts in Jesus to save they no longer trust in themselves, their works, or anyone, or anything else to save them. Only Jesus.
We share the good news that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This is the message that the world needs to hear. Is this the Gospel you have been sharing? If so, then praise God! If not, then perhaps you can spend some time reflecting on the truth of the Gospel and these solas so your mind and message can be reformed to align more with Scripture.
Reforming God’s World with God’s Word for God’s Glory
Our mission at The League is to mobilize and equip Christians to Read, Carry, and Share the Word. We can learn a lot from The Reformers and their 5 solas in our attempts to share God’s Word with God’s World. Our ultimate motivation should be for the glory of God alone. Our truth is to be found in Scripture alone. And our message must contain the good news that undeserving sinners can be saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Reformation still must happen today. Not a reformation of the truth of the Gospel but a reformation of people’s perception or understanding of truth. May it be your prayer that God would use you to be part of reforming people’s minds who don’t know Christ so that they will be saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone living for God’s glory alone and believing Scripture alone.
Soli Deo Gloria!