REFORMATION is the act of reforming, or the state of being reformed; change from worse to better; correction or amendment of life, manners, or of anything vicious or corrupt; as, the reformation of manners; reformation of the age; reformation of abuses.
Historically, the Protestant REFORMATION points to a time dating back to the 1500's in the Church's history. The visible Church was steeped in unbiblical teachings and practices put forth by the Roman Catholic Pope and Church councils who claimed infallibility; abandoning Aposotlic teaching recorded in the New Testament recognized, upheld, and taught by the early church fathers - they placed themselves over the authority of the Holy Scriptures and perverted the true gospel. However, the invisible Church then, as in all generations, maintained and upheld the true gospel as taught in Holy Scripture.
Through the REFORMATION, the true gospel and the essential doctrines of the Christian faith were brought back to light and this largely through the reformer Martin Luther. Out of the REFORMATION, 5 essential doctrines emerged restoring the Church to its historically biblical roots:
1. Sola Scriptura - "by Scripture alone" - the Bible is THE ONLY infallible and authoritative Word of God and sufficient for all matters of life-the only standard for the Church's teaching. Therefore, the Scriptures must be given faithfully and carefully to the people - in the language of the people.
2. Solas Christus - "by Christ alone" - Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man, thus, salvation from sin's penalty and power is secured by the death and resurrection of Christ alone.
3. Sola Fide - "by faith alone" - Salvation is received by faith alone. We need only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and receive Him as Lord. True saving faith is evidenced by a life of repentance from sin.
4. Sola Gratia - "by grace alone" - Salvation is solely a sovereign work of God only received by His grace (kindness undeserved). There is nothing man can do to save himself from the penalty and power of sin.
5. Sola Deo Gloria - "to God alone the glory" - God is sovereign over all events of history - including salvation - all are orchestrated by Him for His and the glory of Christ alone. Therefore, every activity of the Christian is to be lived under the Lordship of Christ to the glory of God alone.
Today, some of the same deception that plagued the Church then still exists now - yet expressed in different forms. Among them are:
The Dismissal of God's Authority - Just as the Roman Catholic Church refused the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures alone, today many churches do the same by claiming to have prophets and apostles speaking direct revelation from God (opening the door for Satan to deceive the Church with a false gospel), using psychiatric therapy to cure personal problems, or replacing the clear preaching of the Word with various forms of entertainment and gimmicks to bring people to Christ.
The Deity of Christ Minimized - Today, there are many well-known "Faith Teachers" who have deified or elevated man, claiming that men are "little gods", while at the same time reducing or demoting the deity of Christ. In an effort to reduce the magnitude of our sin, they have taught that Christ could have sinned but instead He made a conscience decision not to sin. This very teaching completely removes the fact that while Christ was 100 percent Man, He was also 100 percent God. By default, stating that Christ could have sinned is the same as stating that God has the ability to sin. On the other hand, some churches neglect the faithful and careful explanation of the doctrine of Christ's deity and equipping the saints to defend it.
The Distortion of True Saving Faith and the Grace of God - Just as the Roman Catholic Church distorted salvation, (that salvation is by faith and works), churches today hold to the idea that a person can have saving faith without genuine repentance-that is-the evidence (works) of a changed life. As a result, many are led to believe that they can have Christ as Savior but not Lord and live a willfully sinful life, trampling the grace of God and misinterpreting saving faith-which ultimately leads to destruction.
The Displacing of God's Glory for Man's Materialism - Just as the Roman Catholic Church exploited believers through the practice of indulgences (the teaching that deceased family members can escape purgatory and enter heaven by monetary payment), today many churches exploit believers by teaching a gospel of health, wealth, and prosperity - that Christ came to give us earthly riches, success, and health and that by giving and/or believing they will receive the "anointing" for prosperity. Instead of living for God's glory through obedience to His Word, the Church is being deceived to live for God's "blessing" - that is - the covetous desires of their own flesh.
The true gospel of Jesus Christ is under attack...we gotta bring it back...we need a REFORMATION!!
And the message of the true gospel of Jesus Christ is simply - repentance and the forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:46-48).
"The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God." - Martin Luther