There was a long period of history when the church was in darkness, hijacked by people who sought to fill their own insatiable appetites for money and power, people who did not thirst and hunger for righteousness. Many of the truths that were foundational to the early church lay dormant and hidden for many long, dark years. The doctrines of grace, the gospel of Jesus, that brought peace to men’s souls, were lost for a time as tyrannical systems of men sucked the life out of the people in the church by denying them God’s Word.
There is no doubt that God brought about the Reformation, using (as He always has) imperfect men who, despite their flaws and imperfections, held fast to Him and sought first His Kingdom and His glory with all their strength. Men like Huss, Luther, Tyndale, Calvin, Henry, Owen, and the Puritans that followed these men recovered Biblical truths that had been lost and in their rediscovery treasured them all the more. These men were often scorned, ridiculed, imprisoned, beaten, and even put to death for their belief in these doctrines upon which the all of the legitimate Protestant faiths have their roots.
These men loved God’s Word. They loved Jesus. The Cross was more than a “groovy tattoo”, wall adornment, or piece of jewelry – it was their heart. It was the very center of their understanding, and as they searched the Scriptures daily like Bereans, pouring over God’s Word and rejoicing at the timeless truths they were rediscovering anew, they saw the beauty, the wisdom, and the power of God’s Word. God’s Word was not trivial, nor something to be enjoyed only occasionally; it was their manna, their daily bread. It was the sustenance of life.
Should we not pay some homage to our spiritual ancestors, these Christian soldiers of the Reformation, who rescued the truths that had been lost for centuries that we might enjoy the fruits of their labor even today? Should we not be ever thankful for the sound doctrine and the translations even into our own language, that we can sit down and read a Bible in our own living room, trusting that what we are reading is faithful to the original texts? Knowing how faithfully and passionately they searched the Scriptures, should we perhaps consider the fruits of their labors worthwhile?
Yet, there are some that would say that the five solas, the doctrines of grace, and the wisdom and depth of the riches our Puritan elders have gone and mined before us are worthless to us today. There are some today who have a fraction of their faith and their devotion to the Scriptures, and who with pride in their hearts think they are so much further along in understanding the Word of God, and who refuse to travel the sound paths walked by the giants who have gone before us. There are those who would reject the doctrines of grace without even truly understanding them because they are not as fashionable or easy to put on as more modern perspectives. In an air-conditioned, fast-food, satellite-network society like ours, where apostasy in the church is as common as sex and violence on the TV, is it any wonder that there is little room for anything that may prick our conscience or challenge our comfort?
When men held a high view of Scripture, there was a high view of the doctrines of grace. There was a high view of the church. And there was a high view of God. Not surprisingly, there was a low view of man, and a very real understanding of the total depravity of his heart. Under such conditions, the true Church flourished, and God was glorified.
Today, we see a low view of Scripture, a low view of doctrines long-esteemed and profitable; a low view of the church and a low view of God. And not surprisingly, there is a high view of man, and a total denial of the utter depravity of his heart. Under such conditions, apostasy flourishes; man makes himself bigger than he ought, and his God he makes too small.
We should tremble in fear with reverence for the Lord. We should take His commands and His promises more seriously. His judgment cometh. There have been far too many times recorded in His Word to ignore the warnings. God gives grace to the humble, but He opposes the proud. He is loving and patient and kind. At the same time He is also just, and His wrath burns against the sons of disobedience. He sends His prophets to His people and gives them every opportunity to repent. Yet, so often we see a foolish, stiff-necked people who are too indifferent, too careless and too proud to repent.
We live in a time when true fear and reverence for God’s mighty power and strength have waned even as man’s pride and his faith in his own ability has waxed. Many profess with their mouths but deny with their lives. The wisdom of our forefathers falls on deaf ears even as they read their Bibles with their eyes shut, and more often than not with the Bible shut, too.
May God have mercy on us.