Happiness is the Key

I tried to give this post with the title “Pursuing Happiness” but that would be too cliché. I was planning a post series about happiness which I started here but my schedule prevented me from doing so. For now, I felt an internal nudge telling me to write about this.

 

Happiness

Too often we would hear people say that man’s ultimate goal is to be happy. I have struggled with the idea as long as I can remember. Growing up as a church minister’s son, I have concluded early in my life that happiness is not paramount. Of course for a Christian, it is living according to God’s precepts. But a person’s goal must be something so rewarding and must always start with something unreachable.

I always wanted to be like my dad. His duties as a pastor of our local church were attractive. Even though I grew up as a shy kid, I will always wonder how my dad interacts with people treating even strangers like old-time friends. By the time I graduated in elementary, I told myself that I would be a computer engineer, whatever that profession means. I would never follow any of those two since after graduating from high school, I took up business administration. Now, I am pursuing the life of a medical doctor.

The evolution of my attitudinal change flashed in my mind when I was working with my adopted family for our community work. They were telling me about what they were doing to remedy their sickness including their medical experiences for the last few months. They told me about people who tried to dupe them into buying expensive food supplements and about the drug they are keeping as an emergency pill that was clearly not related to the ailments that they have.

 

Broken Smile

I planned to make my visit short and just record their vital signs and verify some information that I took months before. However, my visit went on for an hour where mostly I debunked their misconceptions and answered their questions to the extent of my knowledge. I admit I was thankful that their questions were not too technical but I loved the feeling of exchanging ideas with them, seeing their interested and satisfied faces, and the total exercise of the event that was happening before my eyes.

It culminated when I notice the firstborn in the family looking eagerly at my nameplate, at my stethoscope, and at my notes. His face was serious and I feel like he was trying to say something. Before I left I asked him if he, too, wants to be a doctor someday. He smiled and answered yes.

His parents were quick to tell him that they may not afford medical education or that now is not the time to decide about it. I dispelled their fears by telling how many doctors are needed by the Philippines and that there is still hope for free medical education someday. They both looked at their son and agreed.

I can’t believe I would be inspired by that scenario. I realized that man functions to follow his need to be happy. He wants to satisfy the longing in his heart that would ultimately make his heart smile.

 

Trigger-Happy Obsession

We are often obsessed with the difference between joy and happiness. Often, joy is something that dwells in our hearts and may persist no matter what the circumstance is. Happiness is the feeling that we feel due to something that happened. I agree that the preceding definitions are correct.

However, the dictionary would tell a different story. For Merriam-Webster, joy is “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires,” and happiness is “a state of well-being and contentment.” By the looks of it, they seem to be similar. We have joy in our hearts but we still try to seek happiness and that is never wrong.

 

Happily Blessed

Religions and self-help programs would guide people to achieve happiness. Because of its English etymology (using blood to consecrate something), we associate the word “blessed” with the act of making something holy. We forget that in the religious context, it also means someone who is happy.

The most famous sermon of Jesus Christ is His Beatitudes which are beautiful in meaning and structure. We call it beatitudes because it has sentences that start with the word beati which means “happiness or blessedness.” This sermon sums up some of the values that He taught and it says that the person who follows them will be happy.

To make yourself happy is not even contradicting to a Christian. The mere fact that believers live their lives to give God happiness is reason enough to say that pursuing happiness is a holy act if done the right way. Belivers disregard that God’s happiness would result to their own happiness.

As long as we do not hurt others, we can chase anything that would make us happy. I think I have a newfound outlook on my life and would now try to seek my happiness.

Oh, the things medical school does to you.

Luther’s movement was more than just religious

Lately, in light of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I have filled my blog with posts about this movement within the Christian faith and its modern relevance. These posts were stemmed from my responsibility at my local church where I serve as worship leader and head of communications.

As much as I would want to write more about my experiences as a medical student, I cannot release myself from my faith and given this platform I think it is proper that I allow my religious expression to be heard. I have long considered this journey towards medicine as a hard path; I have repeatedly admitted in my posts about the backlogs in my education and of many hindrances that follow them.

That is why this Reformation was so important for me. In the past, this celebration would have been a day of pride for me where a man of faith braved the odds and expressed his beliefs giving us Christians, of all denominations and groups, the kind of faith that we have now. However, as a person in the academe, I came to realize things about this movement that has kept me striving for my goal.

I have made October as my month of pondering and devotion towards my worldview and the events that happened 500 years ago gave me a chance to introspect and be inspired more.

 

Luther wanted to start a discussion

October 31, 2017 marks the 500th year of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses in the church door in Wittenberg about his realizations on the church practices during his time. He wanted to have a discussion with his community and with the church officials. This plan would be the cause of a schism within the church that would eventually lead to wars and violence throughout Europe.

People would often refer to the chaos that happened during the Reformation but neglect the fact that Luther wanted to talk. In the modern era, we have seen that conflicts can be resolved through discussions. Even though our world is still filled with violence and chaos, sitting with other people and talking about the problem could truly help.

 

He paved the way to the questioning minds of the Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment was the period in Europe where reason dominated world ideas in the 18th century. Early Reformers often had backgrounds in humanism and philosophy, giving them the leeway to reject traditionalism and turning to the Reformation movement which offered a faith based on reason and scriptures.

The Enlightenment also gave rise to atheist philosophers and those that reject Christianity. While believers would say that this is a downside, the Reformation was never in vain. It gave people ideas that they alone can decide what they want to happen to their lives and began questioning the ideas the predominated their time.

The process of questioning would eventually pave the way for a more comprehensive scientific culture that continues until today.

 

The movement tried to dissuade people from superstition and turn to the academe

The faith during Martin Luther’s time often includes several traditions which he pointed out to be inconsistent with the scriptures. Superstitions were also rampant with people doing unnecessary things for their peace of mind. With traditionalism taught as unequal to the scriptures, superstitions started to wane, even though not instantly.

More and more people became interested in studying science. Even in the religious world, people would discuss their faith based on studies that they have done. This culture of studying still has a grip on our modern world and the Reformation may have a hand on this.

A fun fact that I knew just this year is that some universities in Europe still practice nailing their theses on a wall after completing them, mirroring what Luther had done to his.

 

The movement inspired people to work from the heart

The early Reformers were influenced by the writings of Augustine of Hippo which is often depicted holding his heart in serving God saying, “Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” In the same way, seals of Luther and Calvin also feature the heart as a way of showing that service to God must always be done wholeheartedly.

Because of this, generations were told to strive and succeed. Many minds were opened to the fact that if the work is done properly with all dedication, good outcomes await. Many can attest to this fact and continue to be a source of inspiration.

 

The Reformers taught that people should keep on reforming

The second generation of Reformers has a strong message embedded in their writings: semper reformanda. Always Reforming. They said that the Reformation has not ended. The need to reform is still there. But not the doctrines, the creeds, or the forms. Our lives must continue on reforming until the coming of the Savior.

We can say that this thrust of telling people to always change has inspired people to innovate, to look for more truths, to formulate ideas that show reforming, to strive for better things. The Reformation has given us many things but more than just our way of worship, it has given man a new way of life.

 

Final thoughts

I consider my failures and heartaches as those things necessary for my growth. But I know that I still have the chance to be better, I still have the chance to reform. The influence of the Reformation is undeniable and it has given an impact on the lives of all the people on earth.

We still look forward to more things that we could change for the better. Semper reformanda.

Reformation500: Solus Christus

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

To say that the Reformation ideas have only gained prominence in Luther’s time during the Middle Ages is not correct. During the prominence of the state church during their time, underground churches and numerous communities that held fast to the truth of God’s Word flourished. There have been many martyrs in the faith including the numerous Waldensians, the Lollards led by John Wycliffe, the Hussites led by Jan Hus, and William Tyndale, whose theology centered on God’s Word, proclaiming that salvation is only through Christ alone.

The fifth sola, Solus Christus, or ‘through Christ alone,’ give emphasis to the Christian fact that Jesus Christ Himself plays a central role in the salvation of men. During the time of the Reformers, it was possible to seal one’s fate which could guarantee a soul to skip the torments of purgatory and directly enter heaven for a price. This is in line with the tradition that priests are intercessors between men and God, and that they if only given enough powers, can mandate a person’s salvation or doom.

But Hebrews 4:15 explicitly says that there is no other High Priest, but Jesus, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

Christianity itself bears the name of Jesus Christ because He alone is the reason why we are in this faith. Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole,'” which means He is our Redeemer. 1 Timothy 2:5 says that “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” which means He is our only mediator.

Acts 4:12 proclaims, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” It is only through Christ alone. Solus Christus.

This sola summarizes what the other four says and is central to why the Reformation happened. Man, as instructed by sola scriptura (scripture alone), can only be saved through sola fide (by faith alone) and sola gratia (by grace alone), giving soli Deo gloria (all glory to God alone), all because of solus Christus (through Christ alone).

We continue to preach this truth and as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation draws near, we are compelled to hold fast to the faith and ask for God to continue what He has begun in us.

Martin Luther said, “I must listen to the Gospel. It tells me, not what I must do, but what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has done for me.”

Colossians 1:18, “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

Reformation500: Soli Deo Gloria

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation draws near, we are reminded of how this newfound faith of the Reformers brought the focus back to God and God alone.
 
Soli Deo Gloria, a concept further coined by John Calvin and other Reformers, was added to the three solas introduced by Martin Luther. Together with Solus Christus, these two concepts stress that the Christian faith must be focused on nothing else but on the Almighty God alone.
 
This means that our salvation can never be merited by our good deeds towards our church leaders or through our donations to the church. This only means that all men are equal and we only bestow our utmost love, adoration, and worship to God.
 
Soli Deo Gloria or ‘All Glory to God Alone’ says that the Christian faith must be one that glorifies God. It must be a faith that forgets one’s own glory but instead focuses all the praise and worship to God. Paul highlights this in his letter by saying that, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
 
This stand on the faith explains why most evangelical churches choose not to highly honor persons or deify martyrs. This is also why most members of the clergy do not have special titles or if there are, not grandiose as to limit the glory that must only be reserved for God.
 
As one song says, “Every high thing must come down; every stronghold shall be broken.” We believe that all things must fall down before God and that His glory alone will shine. Soli Deo Gloria!
 
“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:3)

Reformation500: Sola Gratia

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

The concepts of Sola Fide and Sola Gratia are intertwined in that the scriptural basis for these concepts lies in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” God’s design for salvation is ‘by grace” and ‘through faith’, both of which we receive as gifts from God through Jesus Christ alone.
 
This concept of the true biblical gospel again stemmed from the previous practice of selling of indulgences during Martin Luther’s time. That practice promotes buying or paying for a person’s salvation, a total opposite to what Paul said in his letters.
 
Jeremiah 17:9 said that “The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure…” and therefore does not desire to draw near to God. We are spiritually dead and therefore deprived of God’s glory. However, God sent His Son to the world to unite His children back to Him.
 
As Christians, it is important for us to understand Sola Gratia because otherwise would mean that we reject the Gospel on which Christianity stands upon, the Gospel that saves. Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This simplifies what God has in mind for us: that even though we are sinners, through His grace embodied by Jesus Christ we are saved.
 
Sola Gratia led John Newton to write his famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ which speaks about his amazement towards what God has given His people. That even though we are wretched, He did not hesitate to save us.
 
Luther said, “Yes, dear friend, you must first possess heaven and salvation before you can do good works. Works never merit heaven; heaven is conferred purely of grace.”
 
Finally, in John 6:39, Jesus said, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”

Reformation500: Sola Fide

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, Ipost some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

 The second sola in the pillars of the Reformation is “Sola Fide” or “Faith Alone.” This stemmed from the early practice of the church during Martin Luther’s time where there was selling of indulgences especially for the souls trapped in Purgatory.
 
Indulgence is “a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins.” Pope Leo X offered the selling of these indulgences to collect funds in order to renovate St. Peter’s Basilica.
 
Martin Luther highlighted this in his 95 Theses condemning the corruption involved in the selling of these indulgences. He drew inspiration after observing people who were just paying for their salvation and of their relatives in Purgatory, a teaching propagated by Johann Tetzel, the Grand Commissioner for indulgences of Germany saying, “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”
 
Prior to Martin Luther’s time, Jan Hus in Bohemia already condemned the practice as early as 1412.
 
The Roman Catholic Church eventually condemned the corrupt practices and a later pope canceled all indulgences that were made through a payment or fee. However, the Reformed Church eventually did away with indulgences including the teaching about Purgatory and centered its beliefs in the biblical basis that salvation is not man’s own doing.
 
It is emphasized that good works cannot save us from the punishment of sin. This includes water baptism. We hold on to what Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Therefore, faith alone, as a free gift from God, can grant us salvation.
 
Paul further says in his letter to the Ephesians that salvation is given by God through faith “not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:9)
 
Sola Fide is the Reformed Church’s expression that Christ’s blood is the only means of salvation and through His death and resurrection, we are saved. Faith alone in this wonderful mystery can save us from eternal misery.

Reformation500: Sola Scriptura

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

The Reformation brought key principles in defining where the true Christian faith is based on. These points are commonly known as The Five Solas/Solae which took their names from the Latin word “sola” meaning “alone.”

These solas echoes Martin Luther’s observation of the excessiveness in the Roman Catholic Church during his time. Initially, there were three, called by the Lutherans as The Three Principles of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fides (“scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone”).

Further into history, with the rise of later Reformers especially John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli, two more points were added to these and summarized the Reformed faith. These are Solus Christus and Soli Deo Gloria (“through Christ alone” and “all glory to God alone”).

Sola Scriptura was an early cry of Luther and his followers after he contradicted the priority given to tradition in his old church. He also lamented the inaccessibility of believers to the Word of God and the lack of translations available for common people. Through this, he was inspired to translate the Bible into German, not only establishing a translation in the vernacular but also developing their literary language in the process. Prior to this, the Bible was only available in Latin.

Later on, the Bible was translated into French and English, inspiring local Reformation movements in countries using these languages. The rest of this journey is history in the making as we see more translations being done as of this writing.

Sola Scriptura rejects the divine authority of human beings and the emphasis on sacred tradition in practicing the faith. 2 Peter 1:20-21 says that “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 further reiterates that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Reformation500: The Comity Agreement between Protestant Churches in the Philippines

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

The picture shows an outdoor Protestant service outside a Roman Catholic sanctuary in the early 1900s. As the Philippines was ceded by Spain to the United States of America, American missionaries also took the opportunity to share their faith on the islands after more than 300 years of isolation.

Together with this, the prevailing anti-Spanish attitude of the people, who they associate with Roman Catholicism, paved the way for Protestantism to take root in the hearts of the people. Because of this, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist leaders met in New York in 1898 resulting in a comity agreement that divided the places of ministry to avoid conflicts among missionaries and converts. This means that only one ministry would be allowed in a specific area. The said missionaries also met in 1901 in Manila to form the Evangelical Union that aimed to “delineate the geographical work allotments for each church.”

From 1898 to 1930, the following comprised the agreement: Methodists (1898, most of lowland Luzon and north of Manila); Presbyterians (1899, Bicol, Southern Tagalog area and some parts of Central and Western Visayas); Baptists (1900, Western Visayas); United Brethren (1901, Mountain Province and La Union); Disciples of Christ (1901, Ilocos, Abra, and Tagalog towns); Congregationalists (1902, Mindanao except for the western end); and Christian and Missionary Alliance (1902, Western Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago). Manila was opened to all denominations and mission agencies. This explains why said denominations still have a presence in their respective areas up to this day.

However, this agreement proved to be complicated and was shattered due to some conflicts in individual doctrines and practices. During the Japanese occupation, the thirteen major denominations (listed above plus the Seventh-day Adventists, the Episcopal Church, Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas, Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo, and American Protestant Missions) were again unified by the Japanese into the Evangelical Church of the Philippines to distinguish the evangelicals and control their affairs. After the independence at the end of World War II, the churches again split and regained autonomy.

But Christ’s plan is still for unity among His believers. Currently, several efforts for ecumenism and church unity are happening inter-denominationally in the country and around the world, serving God’s purpose for the universal Church.

The Christian Reformed Churches in North America sent a mission to the Philippines during the 1970s which planted many congregations in the country. A small fellowship was eventually started in the 1980s in Iloilo City. This group eventually became the present-day members of the Re:New Christian Church, rooted in the Christian faith and the values of the Reformed tradition.

Though currently a non-denominational church a sense of inclusivity and love for all, we owe all of this to the Reformation that started 500 years ago, as we remain in God’s love and serving His purpose for us.

As Paul said in Philippians 3:12–14 (NIV), “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal,l but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Reformation500: How Reformed Christianity Reached the Philippines

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

Spain started its colonization of the Philippine islands in March 1521, just six years after Martin Luther declared his faith on the doors of Wittenberg Church. While the Reformation was enjoying its early success in Europe, the inhabitants of these islands are yet to encounter the Christian faith.

The goal of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition was to jumpstart the Kingdom of Spain’s quest for God, Gold, and Glory; where God signifies the Christianization of lands that they will colonize. In this painting by Fernando Amorsolo, we see the first mass on the islands and the conversion of the locals into Christianity through the Roman Catholic Church.

Prior to this arrival, Spain was one of the prospect states for the Reformation ideology to penetrate. However, the Spanish Inquisition, a special tribunal to identify those who were deemed heretics by the kingdom and the church established in 1478, was a strong opposing force. This deadly tribunal led to countless deaths of Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and other non-Catholics, or their exile, whichever comes first. The Inquisition was only disbanded in 1834.

Understandably, this also prevented the spread of the Reformation to the Philippine Islands throughout the 333 years of Spanish rule. However, the Reformation, through its influence on the Enlightenment, may have spread some ideologies through literature. Several local uprisings from local church leaders were also noted, notably, the separation of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente from the Roman Catholic Church led by Gregorio Aglipay, often hailed by the church’s members as the “Martin Luther of the Philippines.”

The Reformed church formally stepped on the waters of the country after the Treaty of Paris in 1898, which ended the Spanish-American War, was signed, where the Philippines was ceded to the United States of America. Because of this, American Protestant Missionaries were able to spread the Gospel among the people. Prior to this, Catholicism was the state religion and other denominations are not permitted to practice their faiths.

The first Protestant service held in the Philippines was on Sunday, August 28, 1898 led by Chaplain George Stull of The Methodist Episcopal Church, After the service, he said, “That the power of God will use this day to make a good Catholic better, any weak American stronger, any backslider ashamed, and the gloomy old dungeon the beginning of wonderful things in these Islands, is my prayer.”

Re:New Christian Church lives up to this legacy on how the Reformation shaped the world and how the Gospel of God was shared up to this generation of Filipinos. We continue to meet and discover this wonderful story that God has laid before us, speaking of His greatness and of His love through His Son Jesus Christ.

Further back, this is our answer to Jesus’ Great Commission, and we dream of fulfilling this commandment, spreading His word up to the ends of the world.

Martin Luther said, “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.'” Revelation 14:6–7 (NIV)

Reformation500: Scripture as the Sole Authority for Christians

Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:

The painting in this post was done by Vincent van Gogh in 1885 with the title “Still Life with Bible.” By then, the Reformation has taken place for more than 200 years yet the message of the movement is still vibrant as shown in the painting. The centrality of the Bible in this newfound way of a relationship with God has inspired numerous artists in Europe. Van Gogh himself was a son of a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church.

You may have seen several Christian groups springing up, claiming that they are Bible-believing churches. They are even some who integrate the importance of the Scriptures even in the names of their denominations. Why is this emphasis on believing in the BIble only important? What is the Reformation’s part in this?

One of Martin Luther’s criticism on why he led the reforms was the practice of tradition in the old church. His inspiration for speaking up was, after all, the Bible itself. He found that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone and that every word written in the scriptures is God-breathed and is His final instruction to men.

This is the case for one of the cries of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura. Scripture Alone.

The reformed church has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the Bible and why this book should be the sole authority on faith and practice for Christians. As what Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV): “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The scripture quoted clearly states that the Bible should be our yardstick for what we do in our lives in order to be trained in righteousness. Psalm 19:7 (NIV) also says that “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” There are no other statutes more important for Christians than those that are in the Bible.

Luther said, “The Bible is the proper book for men. There the truth is distinguished from error far more clearly than anywhere else, and one finds something new in it every day. For twenty-eight years, since I became a doctor, I have now constantly read and preached the Bible; and yet I have not exhausted it but find something new in it every day.” (WA TR 5, no. 5193).

“Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.
Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands.
They stand this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things are Your servants.
If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have revived me.” Psalm 119:89-93 (NIV)

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