I’ve been fortunate over the last two years to travel in the footsteps of some of the pre-eminent 16th century Protestant reformers. My travels took me throughout Germany, following in the footsteps of Martin Luther (1483 – 1546); through Switzerland, learning about Swiss reformers like Ulrich Zwingli (1484 – 1531) and John Calvin (1509 – 1564); and in the UK, following in the footsteps of English reformers like Hugh Latimer (1487 – 1555).
It’s allowed me to not only read about church history, but also to see it, touch it and breathe it first-hand as a kind of immersive learning experience. Because I realized the blessing of what I was going to do, I put a lot of pressure on myself before I left to prepare and read everything I could about those reformers.
Over a two-year period it was almost like I got a Ph.D. in Reformation History!
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’d like to share with you Four Renegade Lessons from the Reformers…
1. Eternity hangs in the balance with what we do or don’t do as ministers. (Martin Luther)
Martin Luther reminds us that what we preach, who we reach and what we do as pastors makes a difference for eternity. Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, sparking the Protestant Reformation, because of an upheaval in his soul about the eternity of those in his church. People were being deceived about corruption in the church.
Luther refused to keep silent, was eventually excommunicated from the Catholic Church, and was later declared an outlaw and a heretic.
He made the choice to stand because what he did mattered for eternity. When we stand to give our Sunday sermons, when we lead our church and build healthy systems, when we welcome guests and challenge people to take next steps…it matters for eternity.
2. Stand up for what we believe, no matter what the costs. (The Martyrs’ Memorial)
The Martyrs’ Memorial in Oxford, England commemorates the 16th-century “Oxford Martyrs,” Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, who, as the inscription reads, “yielded their bodies to be burned, bearing witness to the sacred truths which they had affirmed and maintained against the errors of the Church of Rome, and rejoicing that to them it was given not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake.”
They gave their life for five “Solas,” the five key doctrines of the Reformation (the foundation of who we are):
- Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
- Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
- Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
- Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
- Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.
Are WE willing to stand up for what we believe, no matter the cost?
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 – the other two lessons from Two Years of Reformation Travel!
Your partner in ministry,
Share This Post