RPM, Volume 19, Number 44, October 29 to November 4, 2017

The Message of Reformation in our Present Generation

By Ben Gonzaga

"When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other 'what is it?' for they did not know what it was" (Exodus 16:15a). Just like the reaction of the Israelites when they saw the manna for the first time, so it is with people today who heard about Reformation Day. Still until this time, the majority cannot appreciate the value of this occasion despite the fact that the world history cannot deny the protestant reformation way back October 31, 1517 in Germany — a time when Martin Luther posted his ninety five thesis as a way of exposing and protesting against the evils in the church of Rome.

But for us in the Christian Reformed Church, this is an occasion that deserves great celebration in gratitude to the faithfulness of God in preserving the purity of faith and life of His church through the years. Just like the manna of long ago, reformation serves as in many ways even though it is unknown to many. It is an unusual food that the Lord has given (Exodus 16: 15b) to preserve us from many forms of evil attack as we journey towards the place of our eternal rest. It helped clarify our real calling and God's gift of grace to us. Like Manna that highlighted the Sabbath, the Reformation re-emphasized the Lord's Day which had been crushed by numerous Catholic festivals and had become a burden to the people. But how should we celebrate this occasion in a way that communicates the original essence of reformation?

Our celebration must be a lifetime attitude and commitment to "contend for the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3). This is the message of Reformation in our time. If we want to enjoy continuously the things accomplished by the reformers of long ago we should never limit the scope of our celebration to the specific event we organized once a year in a particular time and place. Contending for the faith of our fathers requires faithful vigilance against the errors in teaching and practices that possibly arise in our respective local churches and the denomination in general.

"For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you"(Jude 4). "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them"(Acts 20:30). For these reason and as we commemorate the protestant reformation that happened 500 years ago, let us make every effort to guard ourselves from the harmful influence of people who have come among us unnoticed and gradually introduced unbiblical principles through the cunning and craftiness of their deceitful scheming (Eph. 4:14). Like the Christians in Berea (Acts 17:11), let us carefully examine if the present teaching and practices of our local churches are still in harmony with "the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3). Let us continue to crave only for pure spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2) instead of gathering around us teachers who only teaches what our itching ears wanted to hear (2 Tim. 4:3). Above all, let us never fail to demonstrate the Christ-like attitude, attitude that recognizes the Lordship of God in all areas and all circumstances of life. Our reformation day celebration can be meaningless and a great waste of entrusted resources if the motives of our HEARTS and the actions of our HANDS are inconsistent with the knowledge of our HEADS.

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