Why Should Baptists Celebrate the Reformation?

[Below, is a revised version of a newsletter article I wrote last year around this same time. It is still relevant and appropriate as we remember and celebrate 500 years of the Reformation this week.]
 
Why should we as Christians, who identify ourselves as Baptist, celebrate the Reformation? We probably should first answer the question: What is the Reformation? When we talk about the Reformation we are referring specifically to the Protestant Reformation, which was a watershed movement within Church history that took place in 16th century Europe. In order to understand the significance of the Reformation, it is helpful to understand some early Church history.
 

In the early days after the Apostles, the Church, for the most part, existed as one Catholic, or Universal, Church made up of numerous local churches scattered throughout the world as far has the Gospel had went forth. No, the term ‘Catholic’ here does not refer to any particular set of beliefs or any particular denomination, as we understand it today, but rather the term simply means “universal.” Around 1054 A.D., a great division took place in this Universal church called the Great Schism or the East-West Schism. The division created what has come to be known as the Eastern or Greek Orthodox Church in the East and the Roman Catholic Church in the West. These two sides, even to this day, do not communion together.  

Our lineage as Protestants and as Baptists lies with the remaining history of the Roman Catholic Church in the West. Even before the days of the Great Schism, the Catholic Church was becoming very corrupt and unbiblical in doctrine and practice. Papal authority and church tradition had come to take precedence over the authority of Scripture and the teaching of the Apostles. The Church and State were largely intertwined. The Church’s teaching about salvation, evidenced by the selling of indulgences (forgiveness), had become merit based, rather than based upon justification by faith alone, which is the very heart of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
 
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk in Germany (not to be confused with another great man by that same shared name) nailed his 95 theses upon the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther was carrying out a common practice of the day to call for some discussion about needed changes, or reform, in the Church in regard to the Church’s teaching about forgiveness called penance, abuse of Papal authority, and the selling of indulgences. The problem was that these changes that Luther was calling for were very radical and threatened the power of not only the Pope in Rome and the purse strings he controlled but other Church and State leaders, as well.  
 
Luther’s act sparked what has come to be known as the Protestant Reformation. It was a movement that began with the intent of reforming the Church from within, in order to make the Church be and teach what Scripture demanded. In 1521, Luther, however, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church, and the movement ultimately resulted in another great split between what has come to be known as Protestants away from the Roman Catholic Church of the West. Protestants take their name from the fact that they “protested” against the false teaching and practices of Rome and thus became labeled as Protestants. Today there are many denominations that are considered Protestant. We as Baptist consider ourselves Protestant because we stand in the lineage of Luther to “protest” against such false teaching and practice as the Roman Catholic Church officially continues in to this day, along with many others
 
The main teaching of the Church that Martin Luther helped at least the Protestants regain was the teaching of justification by faith alone.  This teaching is the Gospel that a person can only be saved and have forgiveness by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. This teaching is reflected in what has come to be known as the Five Solas of the Reformation. Sola is Latin for ‘alone’ and the Five Solas are simply five Latin phrases that capture the regained true teaching of the Gospel that came about during the Reformation. Here are the five: (1) Sola Gratia—By Grace Alone (2) Sola Fide—Through Faith Alone (3) Solus Christus—In Christ Alone (4) Sola Scriptura—According to Scripture Alone (5) Soli Deo Gloria—For God’s Glory Alone.
 
Unfortunately, many Protestant churches and, yes even, Baptist churches today have begun to ignore these important teachings rooted and grounded, not in the teaching of any man or group of men, but rather in God’s Word, the Bible. Today, many would say that churches in the West are in need of another great Reformation movement. Indeed, if it were not for Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door on that October 31st nearly 500 years ago, we quite possibly would all still be under the deceptive teaching of a works-based salvation that saves no one.  
 
Why should we as Baptists celebrate the Reformation? We should celebrate the Reformation because we celebrate the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ that the Reformation helped to recapture for the true Church.  We celebrate the Reformation, because we proclaim salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, for God’s Glory alone! So, every October 31st we should take time to remember and celebrate how God has demonstrated His great grace to us by bringing us out of the false teaching of a works-based salvation as we pray for millions that still put their hope in their own works to save them rather than in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ.
 

Solus Cristus,

Pastor Samuel Vance

       


Membership Matters

Hey Y’all,
 
We have recently sent out a mass mailing to all our members. If you have not received a letter in the mail by now, you should very soon. Please let us know, if you do not receive one in the coming weeks. This letter is a part of our effort to try and re-connect with each-and-every member that we have on our membership roll here at RABC.


The World to Come

Hey Y’all,
 

Hebrews 6:4-5 teaches us that those who have been “made partakers of the Holy Ghost” and who have “tasted the good word of God,” (that “good word” being a reference to the good news of Jesus Christ) have also “tasted…the powers of the world to come.” The verb “tasted” conveys the idea “to experience personally” You can’t taste anything without also at the same time experiencing that taste personally. What is being communicated is that for those that respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit they have also personally experienced the “powers of the world to come.”
Read more…



Church Newsletter

Hey Y’all,

 

We communicated several issues back that we could possibly be transitioning from our current newsletter with the Western Recorder to producing our own monthly newsletter. We will be making that change real soon. We look to have our last newsletter go out via the Western Recorder on March 21st and begin producing our first monthly newsletter for April. The purpose of this monthly newsletter will be to provide information, announcements, and communications that build up the gathering of Ralph Avenue Baptist Church for the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  Read more…



Sending the Rodgers

Hey Y’all,

 

As many of you have heard by now, the Rodgers have purchased their airline tickets for the mission field with a departure date of April 27, 2017. Their ultimate destination will be South Korea, where they will be serving as missionaries with Word of Life International as a part of the Local Church Ministries team. I want to encourage us to prayerfully consider officially sending out the Rodgers as missionaries of RABC. Remember only the local church has the authority to send out missionaries (Acts 13:1-4), and the organization the Rodgers are partnering with recognize that authority.



Pro-Life and Refugees

Hey Y’all,
 
On February 8th at 1:00 p.m., Governor Matt Bevin will be ceremonially signing into law two very important pro-life pieces of legislation.  As Paul Chitwood, the Executive Director-Treasurer of the KBC, puts it, “One bans late-term abortions. The other requires women seeking abortions earlier in their pregnancies to undergo ultrasounds. The idea, of course, is to allow expectant mothers to see the little ones growing inside them in hopes that will change their minds.”  Chitwood is calling for Kentucky Baptists to fill the halls of the Capitol in Frankfort to show support to our Governor and State legislators who have had the courage to pass such important legislation to protect life. Much more needs to be done and our lawmakers need to know that we are behind them on the matter of protecting innocent human life.
 


2017 Vision

Hey Y’all,

 

In the previous newsletter article, I laid before us two main goals to work & pray toward in 2017.  The first was to Reconnect with Each Church Member to Properly Care for Their Soul and the second was to Connect with our Community in order to Connect our Community with Christ. Let me give us some practical suggestions for how we can each help to pray & work toward these goals together. 


Thanksgiving Service Recap

Hey Y’all,

 

Hope each and every one had a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

 

If you were not able to attend the joint Thanksgiving Eve service with Chapel Park and Hillsdale, then you missed a real blessing of encouragement. We had a great turnout from all three churches. The collection of non-perishable food items for the Baptist Fellowship Center exceeded expectations. During the service, time was given for individuals to share their testimonies of thanksgiving in the Lord, which were a tremendous encouragement to all who were present. We were challenged by the message from Psalm 118 to Call Upon the Lord in Our Distress, Find Refuge in the Lord, Trust in the Lord, and Give Thanks unto the Lord all because He is good and His Faithful Love Endures Forever! After the service, Chapel Park hosted everyone for refreshments allowing time for us to deepen our bonds of fellowship.
Read more…


499th Anniversary of the Reformation

Hey Y’all,
 
Why should we as Christians, who identify ourselves as Baptist, celebrate the Reformation? We probably should first answer the question: What is the Reformation?  When we talk about the Reformation we are referring specifically to the Protestant Reformation, which was a watershed movement within the Church history that took place in 16th century Europe. In order to understand the significance of the Reformation, it is helpful to understand some early Church history. In the early days after the Apostles, the Church, for the most part, existed as one Catholic, or Universal, Church made up of numerous local churches scattered throughout the world as far has the Gospel had went forth.  No, the term ‘Catholic’ here does not refer to any particular set of beliefs or any particular denomination, as we understand it today, but rather the term simply means “universal.” Around 1054 A.D., a great division took place in this Universal church called the Great Schism or the East-West Schism. The division created what has come to be known as the Eastern or Greek Orthodox Church in the East and the Roman Catholic Church in the West. These two sides even to this day do not communion together. 
 


Life in Chaos: Introduction to Our Judges Sermon Series

Hey Y’all,

 

Sunday morning we began a sermon series in the book of Judges entitled Life in Chaos. Indeed, as we read through the book of Judges we will come to quickly see that the life of God’s people in the Promised Land was completely filled with utter chaos. As God’s people today we find ourselves still living in a world filled with chaos! How do we as God’s people live in a sinful chaotic world? What hope do we have in the midst of a life in chaos? Is there a way out of or through this life in chaos? These questions and others will be questions that we will wrestle with as we journey through Life in Chaos in the book of Judges.