THE REFORMATION

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Wednesday, March 2, 2005
Heb.9:10 "Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation." The church of God in this world had a reformation but it was not in or about 1550 A.D. That there was a great spiritual awakening that was largely excited by the dedicated efforts of the Protestant Reformers is not to be denied. That there was a great return to the value and authority of the Holy Scriptures generated by the Protestant Reformers is not to be denied. That there is cause for thanksgiving to God for changes brought about by the work of the Protestant Reformers is not to be denied. That there are many decent and God-fearing people who make up the ranks of Protestantism is not to be denied. That the church of the living God (1 Ti.3:15) was reformed by the Protestant Reformers is to be denied. Something else was reformed in that period by the likes of Luther, Calvin, Knox, etc. The basic premise of the Protestant Reformation is that 1) Jesus Christ established His church in this world and it initially flourished in its fidelity to Him, 2) independent local churches in time coalesced under the heirarchy of the church at Rome and that system became the "official" church of God on earth, 3) the Roman church gradually became so corrupt in doctrine and practice that it utterly lost its identity as a true church and had no valid baptism, communion or ordination, 4) God used men from within that God-forsaken system who (by their own reckoning) had no valid baptism or ordination to reform His church. The foregoing is a fair synopsis of a spiritual "red-headed stepchild" scenario that many people prefer not to think about. Minimal research mingled with some intellectual honesty will confirm this synopsis' validity. As distasteful as it might be to many, there is a glaring error to Protestantism that is summed up in principle by Job, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one" (Job 14:4). How can the Lord's church be reformed out of that which is not the Lord's church? Whereas God is able to bring forth life from the dead, the dead cannot resuscitate themselves. The church of God in this world did not start in Rome, nor even in Jerusalem. It started when God called a corporate body named Israel out of Egypt and led them to Canaan. It was "the church in the wilderness" of which Stephen spoke in Acts 7:38. By this, we do not imply that there previously were no children of God in the earth who would have been considered part of the "general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven" (Heb.12:23), the church Christ loved and gave Himself for (Eph.5:25). The constitution of the nation of Israel as a "kingdom of priests..." (Exo.19:6) was a (then) new thing in the earth: a corporate institution invested with a body of law, a form of worship and a unique priesthood. The nation/kingdom of Israel was God's visible church in this world and would remain so until the appointed "time of reformation," "till the Seed should come..." (Gal.3:19), Who would take the kingdom "from (them) and (give it) to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Mat.21:43). "...The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ..." (Gal.3:24), and no further. Since His advent something new began: "...the kingdom of God is preached and every man presseth into it" (Luk.16:16). Jesus said plainly that "...I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Mat.16:18). With the introduction of a New Testament which annulled and replaced the Old Testament (Mat.26:28; Heb.8:7-13), the church was reformed. Circumcision's importance was displaced by faith (Gal.5:6) and believer's baptism in water (Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:36-38), by which the Holy Spirit adds Jew or Gentile to a gospel church (Acts 2:47 c/w 1 Co.12:13). By the preserving providence of God, such churches have never perished from the earth. They have existed independent of the Romish Church, and though often miserably persecuted by her and her Protestant daughters, yet the gates of hell have not been able to squelch them. Secular, Catholic and Protestant histories confirm their existence back to the apostolic era. But the only history of importance is the one decreed by the word of the true church's Head, "...it shall never be destroyed,..." (Dan.2:44) and "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Mat.16:18). And because of this, like all neo-Christian movements which suppose that God's true church went "stinko" and had to be reborn, restarted or reformed (Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.), Protestantism is "hoisted on its own petard." There was indeed a Reformation. It happened in the First Century and (with reluctant apologies to Mr. Calvin), no "Johnny Come Lately" Reformation could ever improve upon it.

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