Reformation


Jonathan Edwards died of complications from a small pox vaccine. Edwards was a very godly Congregationalist minister that stood for the Reformed faith, for genuine revival through the Holy Spirit, opposition of the half-way covenant, and supported the humanities and the sciences. Edwards is, by far, the greatest American theologian… even though he considered himself an English subject, living in the ‘plantations abroad’.

Of course, all the glory goes to God for the work done through this great father, husband, missionary, pastor, evangelist, teacher, and spiritual mentor. Praise God for building up his church!

What was Edwards’ view of the Scriptures?
“Edwards’ reputation as an avid student of the Bible began during his lifetime; he himself had a hand in spreading word of it. In 1757 Edwards sketched for the Trustees of the College of New Jersey several projects he hoped to publish in the future, including a ‘History of the Work of Redemption’ and a ‘Harmony of the old and new Testament.’ The former was to present a Christian theology as history in which all events in time would be considered ‘so far as the scriptures give any light.’ The latter was to deal successively with the prophecies of the Messiah, Old Testament types, and ‘the harmony of the old and new Testament.’ Of this second project, the ‘Harmony,’ Edwards wrote: ‘In the course of this work, I find there will be occasion for an explanation of a very great part of the holy scripture; which may, in such a view be explained in a method, which to me seems the most entertaining and profitable, best tending to lead the mind to a view of the true spirit, design, life, and soul of the scriptures, as well as to their proper use and improvement.’ Edwards’ untimely death a year later kept him from fulfilling these plans.” -The J.E. Center, Yale University.

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When will the church start being the church? This is a question that many in evangelical circles are asking. The context of the question is the fact that many view church as one or two services a week and then a mind-your-own-business-spirituality the rest of the week.

This was not the practice of the Lord Jesus and his disciples, the early Church, the Reformation church, the Puritans, or even Victorian Christianity. There have been great periods of the church doing ministry and living out her faith to a degree that changed lives for the sake of the Gospel. This is our duty. I think of the words of Wesley: the world is my parish! We have a duty to mankind to bring the Gospel and its life changing message. This begins in our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities, and extends to all spheres of life with which we have contact. Most importantly, this is done in Word and in deed.

1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

The Lord has been showing me this more and more and I know that there are many saints in the Reformed churches that are seeing the need for Jesus Christ to break into our lives and to make a people that are more than ‘Sunday Christians’. It is sad to see the Emergent Church and the Evangelicals doing more- and with less Truth. There is much work to do. The Lord Jesus said,

Matthew 9:37-38 The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

He also said concerning those who claimed to be Christians, but did not do these works that the Gospel requires of them:

Matthew 25:42-46 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

We have much to reform in the Reformed churches; much of which does have to do with doctrine, but with practice. Our heritage is filled with men and women who lived for the sake of advancing the Gospel; many of us are but consumers. My pastor has challenged his congregation with this.

What should be done from? Should we continue with individualistic consumerism, or be the Church?

‘Bernard of Clairvaux, a man so godly, so holy, so pure, that we should commend and prefer him before all the theologians of the Church.”

I have finished a paper that I have been working on for 4 months on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. This doctrine is abused in many ways, and has been since the time of the Reformation when the doctrine was fully developed (I say ‘fully’ because the doctrine is in the Scriptures as early as the Torah.). There are three ways that it is historically abused:

  • A doctrine cannot be required to be believed that is not EXPLICITLY found in Scripture.
  • Nothing can be done without the warrant of Scripture. (We can’t sit in chairs during worship- where is that in the Bible?)
  • Traditions and Creeds of the Church are not important because the Bible is all that matters.

This third abuse is discussed by Allister McGrath and he does a good job of showing that sola scriptura does not negate our traditions, as long as they are supported by the Word of God.

“A number of points bring out the importance of the sola scriptura principle. First, the Reformers insisted that the authority of the popes, counsels, and theologians is subordinate to that of Scripture. This is not necessarily to say that they have no authority… the Reformers allowed certain councils and theologians of the patristic era genuine authority in matters of doctrine. It is to say however, that such authority is derived from Scripture, and is thus subordinate to Scripture. Luther tends to defend the sola scriptura principle by emphasizing the confusion and incoherence of medieval theology, whereas Calvin and Melanchthon argue that the best catholic theology supports their view on the priority of Scripture.”


Allister E. McGrath, Reformation Thought, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 145.

I am doing a comparison on a number of Reformed Creeds as part of my course-work this semester. I have regained a love and appreciation for the Belgic Confession of Faith. It is so experiential, practical, applicable, and comforting to the Christian. The article on the Sacraments is just one example of the many fine articles that our Continental brethren hold so dear:

We believe that our gracious God, taking account of our weakness and infirmities, has ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to seal unto us His promises, and to be pledges of the good will and grace of God towards us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith; which He has joined to the Word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses both that which He declares to us by His Word and that which He works inwardly in our hearts, thereby confirming in us the salvation which He imparts to us. For they are visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God works in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the signs are not empty or meaningless, so as to deceive us. For Jesus Christ is the true object presented by them, without whom they would be of no moment. Moreover, we are satisfied with the number of sacraments which Christ our Lord has instituted, which are two only, namely, the sacrament of baptism and the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ -Belgic Confession, Article XXXII

While discussing the life and death of Guido De Bres, it was brought to my attention that there are a few of his letters that have not been translated from Dutch to English.

His letter to his wife prior to his beheading is so loving and passionate. It clearly shows that a man that loves the Lord Jesus Christ above all will show love to his wife in all circumstances- even the death of martyrdom. Let us follow in faithfulness to Jesus Christ and love for Him. May God grant some of us the great honor of dying as a faithful martyr to Jesus Christ.

I am practicing now what I have preached to others. And I must confess that when I preached I would speak about the things I am actually experiencing as a blind man speaks of colour. Since I was taken prisoner I have profited more and learned more than during all the rest of my life. I am in a good school: the Holy Spirit inspires me continually and teaches me how to use the weapons in this combat. On the other side is Satan, the adversary of all children of God. He seeks to wound me. But he who has said, “Fear not, for I have overcome the world,” makes me victorious. And already I see that the Lord puts Satan under my feet and I feel the power of God in my weakness….

As you have always loved me, I pray that you will continue this love toward our children, instructing them in the knowledge of the true God and of his Son Jesus Christ. Be their father and their mother, and take care that they use honestly the little that God has given you. If God does you the favour to permit you to live in widowhood with our children after my death, that will be well. If you cannot, and the means are lacking, then go to some good man, faithful and fearing God. And when I can, I shall write to our friends to watch over you. I think that they will not let you want for anything. Take up your regular routine after the Lord has taken me. You have our daughter Sarah who will soon be grown. She will be your companion and help you in your troubles. She will console you in your tribulations and the Lord will always be with you. Greet our good friends in my name, and let them pray to God for me, that he may give me strength and the wisdom and ability to uphold the truth of the Son of God to the last breath of my life.

The letter is quite inspiring as well as convicting. It can be read here.