Silver tarnishes. It is a beautiful and precious metal, but over time – as it is exposed to the elements of our world – it begins to discolor and its beauty is hidden under a thin layer of green and grime. Anyone who has ever owned real silverware or jewelry has seen this phenomena at work.
What happens when you find real silver that has tarnished? Do you throw it away? No! It is too valuable to discard. So, you polish it – cleaning away the impurities and returning it to its original brilliance.
This process not only effects precious metals, it effects precious movements as well. We see this in the nation of Israel in the days leading up to the time of Jesus. Over time, the environment set by the Pharisees had led to their religious “add ons” discoloring the true teaching of God. Jesus (in the Sermon on the Mount and other places) polishes the impurities in contemporary teaching off of the true teaching of the Old Testament to return it to its original brilliance. Sadly, the polished and restored vision of God’s Truth that Jesus presented was unrecognizable to the first century Pharisees, leading to the launch of the Church . . . in one sense a “new” movement of God (termed a “mystery” in Ephesians 3), but in another sense the continuation of the plan of God from the foundation of the world. As Jesus purified the religious entities of the first century, he pointed people to the Truth.
Fast forward from the time of Jesus to the sixteenth century. Once again, the religious environment had polluted the Truth of the Gospel with indulgences, works based salvation, and human tradition that had been elevated to equal status with God’s Word. The Reformation, led by Luther, Calvin, Wycliffe, Huss, and others sought to once again polish the tarnish off the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As they did so, a new movement (Protestantism) developed. The movement (while imperfect as well), used the Scriptures to remove impurities they saw in Christian religious practice in 5 key areas:
- Seeing spiritual authority in Scripture alone.
- Seeing salvation by the Grace of God alone.
- Seeing salvation received by Faith alone.
- Seeing salvation found through Christ alone.
- Seeing life as pointing to the Glory of God alone.
The Latin word for “alone” or “only” is “sola.” These five ideas were described as the 5 “solas” by the Reformers and their followers. This past week marked the 500 year anniversary of when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses, thus taking the Reformation to a new level. Protestant churches around the world are remembering this anniversary this week, thankful for the “polishing” that took place five decades ago.
This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, our worship services (at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00) will be focused on reflecting further on the five “solas” of the Reformation. We will sing together, have communion together, and look into God’s Word together – looking to the Scriptures, as we gather in Christ alone, giving glory to Him alone as we receive His grace through faith. Make plans to join us this Sunday, November 5!