500 years ago, Europe rang to the blows of a hammer. On 31st October 2017, Martin Luther published his 95 theses, protesting against the commercialization of God’s sovereign grace by the sale of indulgences. He may have done this by nailing them to the church door in Wittenberg: later stories say that he did, and as the church door was used as a noice board, it is not unlikely.
Whether the story is true or not, the blows of a hammer did ring through Europe. In Jeremiah 23:29 it says:
“Is not my word like fire” declares the Lord “ and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”
At the time of the Reformation, the church had become bent and twisted out of shape by false traditions. But God used the hammer of his word to reshape the church and subdue it to his will. Sometimes that re-shaping was, of necessity, a destructive process, and an act of judgment. The false unity of the institutional church had to broken so that God’s word could be clearly heard.
This is why the Reformers believed in sola scriptura, scripture alone, or the Bible alone. By this they did not mean that we should ignore the creeds and traditions of the church, or think that we have nothing to learn from Christians of the past. They meant that scripture- the Bible- alone was written under the direction of God’s Spirit, so that it says exactly what God wants it to say. Therefore, they believed that scripture alone was the supreme authority in the church, and that the church should submit to the preaching and teaching of scripture, so that it would be re-shaped and re-formed by the hammer of scripture into a people who were pleasing to God.
We still need that today. The church always needs to be reformed, because the church is always made up of sinners, and that applies to Christ Church as much as any church. We need to be constantly re-shaped by scripture alone, which is why every week we sit under the reading and preaching of God’s word.
Sola scriptura is the theme of our service next Sunday. We have a guest preacher: Matthias Lohmann, the pastor of the Frei Evangelische Gemeinde in Munchen-Mitte. Before coming to Munich, Matthias worked for Siemens, and at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. You can read some of his articles here: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/author/Matthias-Lohmann . He is one of the founders of the Evangelium 21 movement, which encourages biblical preaching in Germany. See here for great biblical teaching in English and German: https://www.youtube.com/user/evangelium21net .
The Reformers didn’t just listen to God’s word: they wanted others to hear it. At Christ Church, we want to follow in their footsteps, and so we have decided to enter into partnership with Crosslinks, the mission organization (https://www.crosslinks.org/ ). Through them, we will support Jirka and Keira Kralovi, who are working as missionaries in Olomouc in the Czech Republic, equpping students at the Czech Bible Institute and Palacky University. You can find out more about them and how to support them here: https://www.crosslinks.org/people-and-places/europe/jirka-and-keira-kralovi/ .