16th Century Reformation & Bible Reading

31 October 2007
  1. What is the 16th Century Protestant Reformation?

  1. Protestants – Christians who protested against the spiritual bankruptcy and false teachings of the medieval Roman Church
  2. Reformation – protestants led by Martin Luther (Germany) pressed for a reformation of the Church & a return to Christianity based on God’s Word
  3. On 31 Oct 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 thesis on the Church door of Wittenburg protesting against abuses by the Roman Church pope & priests, which include:

6. The pope cannot forgive any sin; he can only declare and confirm God’s forgiveness.

27. They preach human folly who pretend that as soon as money in the coffer rings a soul from purgatory springs.

76. The papal pardons (forgiveness from the pope) cannot take away the most trivial sin, as regards guilt.

79. It is blasphemy to say that an indulgence cross which is adorned with the papal arms and erected in a church has the same value as the cross of Christ.

80. The bishops, pastors and theologians who allow such teaching to be disseminated among the people will have to give an accounting for it.

82. Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the extreme need of the souls, which is a most righteous reason for doing so, for after all, he does release countless souls for the sake of sordid money contributed for the building of a cathedral, which is a trifling reason?

84. What kind of a holiness of God and pope is this, that for the sake of money they allow the godless and the hostile to ransom a pious soul, beloved of God, when for the sake of the need of the same pious soul they do not ransom it out of love gratuitously?

86. Why does not the pope build the Cathedral of St. Peter with his own money rather than with that of poor believers, because his wealth now exceeds that of the richest Croesus? 

2.  But the flame of the reformation spread throughout Europe through: Ulrich Zwingli & John Calvin (Switzerland), William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley (England), John Knox (Scotland).

  1. Many reformers were tortured and sacrificed their lives for the cause of Christ (Foxe’s book of martyrs chronicled their stories). Among them was an English man named William Tyndale (1494 – 1536), a contemporary of Luther. His dream of having an English Bible which every plough boy could read led him to devote himself to translating and publishing the Scriptures in English.  Despite violent opposition from the Roman Church, he persevered valiantly in his mission until he was betrayed and martyred at Brussels.  Our KJV Bible contains more than 90% of the wording of his translation.         

3.  What are the effects of the Reformation?

  1. The Scriptures were translated in the language of the common people.
  2. Justification by faith alone (through grace) led to de-emphasis of external rituals and emphasis on inner spiritual life. (Sola fide, sola gracia) – The heart of the Reformation is the reformation of the heart. Christianity is a heart religion.
  3. Authority of Scripture replaces the authority of the pope & traditions.
  4. The Scripture alone is sufficient as rule of faith and practice for all believers. (Sola Scriptura)
  5. Preaching became central in a worship service.
  6. Sacraments were reduced to two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
  7. Monasticism replaced by universal priesthood of all believers.
  8. Church universal is not to be ruled by one man only.


4.  What does the Reformation mean to :

  1. Individual: Understanding of the true gospel & salvation by grace through faith, not by works; direct access to God’s throne through prayer;
  2. Church : free from rituals, ceremonies, corruption, power & abuses of Roman church;  
  3. Nation: breaks the power of pope over kings, emperors & political leaders;
  4. Us in the last days: with increasing apostasy, proliferations of false prophets, false gospels, heresies, bible versions, Evangelicals joining with Roman Catholics show us the need to constantly reform ourselves & the Church.


5. Why do we read the Bible today?

  1. 2 Tim 3:16-17 – profitable for doctrine, reproof, instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be mature and equipped for every good work
  2. We have God’s instruction manual in the language we can read and understand for our daily sustenance & growth
  3. A recent survey among Lifers showed that about one-third read the bible less than daily i.e. weekly or monthly.  That is a spiritual thermometer of the health of Lifers.  Knowing that the reformers gave their lives to have precious Word in our hands, it was bought with the blood of martyrs, it is a travesty and negligence for us to leave the bible untouched.


6. How do we read? – learn from Ezra 7:10 

  1. Prepared his heart (expectant heart Ps 119:18 “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law”)
  2. To seek God’s instruction (earnestly desire to know God’s will;)
  3. To Do it (practise God’s will; obey God’s commandments)
  4. And to Teach it (teach truth that I have learnt & practised).


7. Today’s Bible-reading exercise: choose any book / gospel / epistle

  1. Read with above principles in mind
  2. Meditate / chew over the words over and over again until you have understood its meaning
  3. Highlight key verses that you can memorise; mark life verses that can guide you ( eg. Ps 56:3 “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee”; Prov 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”;
  4. Let spirit of God speak to your heart – ask: “what does God want me to learn/is there a sin I need to repent in my life? Is there something good I have omitted to do?”
  5. May we treasure the Word of God like the Psalmist:

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.  Through thy precepts I get understanding: there I hate every false way.  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:103-105

acknowledgement of sources of information from:

Reformation : Retrospect, Introspect and Prospect by Rev Jack Sin.


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