Reformation Profiles

People new to Reformed theology may wonder just what it was about a five-hundred-year-old historical movement that affects our thinking so much today. So join Dr. Stephen Nichols for an inviting, approachable take on “Reformation 101,” as he explores the events of the Protestant Reformation from the perspective of important figures from each of four key countries in this new seven-part teaching series. More than a history lesson, Dr. Nichols helps believers understand why the Reformation mattered then and matters now.

Why the Reformation Matters

Introduction

MESSAGE INTRODUCTION

The author of Ecclesiastes states, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). Apart from the theological significance of this profound statement, another observation arises concerning the study of history: it matters. Although time progresses in a linear direction and contains unique, monumental events (culminating in the return of Jesus), creation witnesses the repetition of patterns, movements, and interactions between humans. The church today faces problems similar to the church of yesteryear, albeit packaged and branded in different forms. A careful study of the history of the church prepares and equips its members to face the difficulties of its own day. The Reformation of the sixteenth century emphasized a return to the Word of God as a remedy for the theological deficiencies of the Roman Catholic Church, and Dr. Nichols embarks on this series to assist the current church by understanding the solas of the Reformation and their place for the people of God in all ages.

SCRIPTURE READING

Genesis 22; Psalm 68:19–20; 136; John 3:16

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

1. To illuminate the context physically and spiritually from which the Reformation emerged
2. To demonstrate the importance of studying the Reformation
3. To present an introduction to the solas and an outline of the progression of this teaching series

QUOTATION

In the very midst of life, snares of death surround us. Who shall help us in this strife, lest the foe confound us? Thou only, Lord, Thou only. In the midst of death’s dark veil, powers of hell overtake us. Who will help when they assail? Who secure will make us? Thou only, Lord, Thou only. In the midst of utter woe, when our sins oppress us, where shall we for refuge go? Where for grace to bless us? To Thee, Lord Jesus, only. Thy precious blood was shed to win, full atonement for our sin.

—from Martin Luther’s hymn, “In the Very Midst of Life”

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The Middle Ages are also called the “Dark Ages” because death and spiritual darkness surrounded the people living within this period of history.

  • True
  • False

Post tenebras lux means ______________.

  • “With darkness comes light”
  • “Darkness and light mingled”
  • “After darkness, light”
  • “Light breaks into the darkness”

The Conciliar Movement succeeded in reforming the administration of the Roman Catholic Church.

  • True
  • False

What was the primary solution the Reformers posited to cure the theological deficiency of the Roman Catholic Church?

  • Replace the Pope
  • Move the seat of central authority from Rome
  • Return to the Word of God
  • Emphasize tradition more

The study of history, particularly the Reformation, matters today because the church faces similar problems in our era.

  • True
  • False

Sola Scriptura: Martin Luther & the Rediscover of the Authority of Scripture

Introduction

MESSAGE INTRODUCTION

In the early sixteenth century, illiteracy was the norm across Europe, and this condition existed even amongst the clergy, teachers of God’s Word. Yet, despite the enormity of this problem, a deeper dilemma remained: the place of the Word of God had shifted in the Roman Catholic Church. No longer did the Bible stand as the central authority upon which the Christian life rested. Tradition, much of it corrupt and driven by the financial bankruptcy of the papal seat in Rome, had displaced it. God, in His gracious providence, did not allow this condition to persist. He raised up a humble monk from Germany, Martin Luther, to take a stand against the church on the principle of sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”). This stand sparked the flame of the Reformation that burned through Europe and continues to blaze throughout the world today.

SCRIPTURE READING

Matthew 24:32–36; Romans 1:16–18; 1 Peter 1:22–25

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  1. To describe the life of Martin Luther
  2. To explain the experiences and studies leading to Luther’s authorship of the ninety-five theses
  3. To illustrate how Luther’s dedication to the principle of sola Scriptura led him to take a stand before the Roman Catholic Church and to the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century

QUOTATION

Since your Majesty and your Lordships ask for a plain answer, I will give you one without either horns or teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture or by right reason ( for I trust neither in popes nor in councils, since they have often erred and contradicted themselves)—unless I am thus convinced, I am bound by the texts of the Bible, my conscience is captive to the Word of God.

—from Martin Luther’s hymn, “In the Very Midst of Life”

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Reformation Europe Map