Titus 1:2 – In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. (NKJV)
Some years ago, we had the privilege of doing a "Cities of the Reformation" tour, where we heard a lot about the different reformers of that time so many years ago. The last city that we visited was Geneva, Switzerland, where John Calvin, born Jehan Cauvin in France on the 10th of July, 1509, served as an influential pastor and theologian. Calvin was a principal figure in the development of reformed Christian theology, which affirms Scripture as the only rule for faith and life (Scripture alone, or "sola scriptura"), salvation by faith alone (or "sola fide") and by God's grace alone ("sola gratia'), accomplished by Christ alone ("solus Christus"), and to the glory of God alone ("soli Deo gloria").
Calvin's affirmation of the doctrine of predestination — alluded to in today's Scripture verse — and his articulation and defence of the absolute sovereignty of God in saving the human soul from death and eternal damnation remain among his contributions to the legacy of the Reformation.
Calvin, like the other reformers, experienced persecution from the established church, which was, at that time in Paris, burning protestant "heretics" at the stake. This caused him to flee for his life to Basel, and later to Strasbourg. He ended up in Geneva, where he preached in the Cathedral of St. Peter, from 1536, when it became a protestant church, until his death in 1564.
John Calvin was often portrayed by his opponents as hard, cold, stern, and calculating, but he was actually a very shy person and quite often misunderstood. But when God and His kingdom were attacked, he rose to exert the authority of his calling to the ministry that God had given him. On such occasions, he became relentless, and he firmly believed this passage which spoke to his heart:
Isaiah 25:1 – O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. (NKJV)
On our visit to the church where Calvin preached, we were told about the different events which had taken place there. The pastor who was leading our group was invited to enter the pulpit and say a few words. Only clergy are allowed to enter this pulpit, so, as I am a Lay Minister, I was allowed to do this as well.
I spoke a few words to the congregation gathered below me and offered a prayer. What a humbling experience it was to climb into the pulpit where John Calvin had stood so many times some 500 years before!
Over the years, many preachers have occupied that very pulpit and brought the good news of salvation to so many people.
As we reflect on these events on this Reformation Day, sadly, also over the years, many protestant denominations have strayed from the principle of the primacy of Scripture as the Word and counsel of God to govern our lives, substituting instead questionable interpretations that excuse moral lapses. The Reformers were willing to risk their lives because they believed in Scripture alone. Undoubtedly, it is time for a renewed reformation!
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the many reformers of old who brought your good news to the people in easy-to-understand and meaningful ways. May we have the ability to carry on their tradition, each one of us in our own way. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Who Is On The Lord's Side" (Lyrics)