In an age where the church suffers from biblical illiteracy and ineptitude, misplaced and sometimes abused authority, widespread hypocrisy and disillusionment and the loss of the biblical gospel, reformation is much needed. But to reform is to change, and that is a word that terrifies even the healthiest of church members.
Yet, if she is to be healthy, the church must exist in a perpetual state of flux, always ready and willing to change in order to bring her beliefs and her practice in line with God’s Word. As long as sinners remain in the church there will exist a need for change.
Of course, most of us would say, “Yes! Of course I’m willing to change. If the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” When push comes to shove, however, action is not so easy. Some of us even blame others for their lack of commitment and flexibility, but when it comes to us and our time and our bending, it’s a different story.
What we believe dictates how we live, and how we live betrays what we believe. If we believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, then we will change when its teachings challenge us, as individuals and as a community of faith. A refusal to change in order to be obedient to God’s Word is an indication that we do not believe what it says. Either that or we do not value it as the ultimate authority in our lives and in the life of the church.
Reflect on the gospel in light of the previous paragraph. Salvation, according to Holy Scripture, is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
Sola Gratia (grace alone) – To the extent that you believe that salvation is by grace alone, that there is no inherent righteousness or goodness in you to merit God’s saving you, you will be humble. You will be gracious. You will be at peace with yourself regarding your sin and forgiving of others when they sin against you. The person who is prideful, the person who expects perfection from others and refuses to forgive, the person who wrestles inside because of his or her own imperfections is a person who is not believing in salvation by grace alone.
Sola Fide (faith alone) – To the extent that you believe sola fide, that no work on your part is necessary for salvation and that even the faith you have is a gift from God, that God is already pleased with you in Christ, you will be able to faithfully serve God. The person who labors tirelessly that he might make himself right before God will face depression and defeat, because he is not believing in salvation by faith alone.
Solus Christus (Christ alone) – To the extent that you believe that it is only Christ who can save you and that His work alone on the cross is necessary to save you, you will be saved and bear much fruit. But you cannot save yourself. Neither can any other name under heaven save you. The person who relies on false teachers and upon Himself for salvation will remain lost in his sins, because he is not believing that salvation is in Christ alone.
Soli Deo Gloria (God’s glory alone) – To the extent that you believe that all is done for the glory of God alone, even your good, you will be committed and labor tirelessly unto death for the Lord. The person who refuses to love, who refuses to serve, who avoids fellowship with other believers, who balks at mission, is a person who is not doing all to the glory of God alone.
In every case, the person who refuses to change in light of God’s Word is denying a tenant of the gospel. A refusal to obey God is to deny the Bible’s authority and to exalt oneself as God and Savior of one’s life. It is to spit upon the loving grace with which He saved us.
Let us not be that. Let us be a people who search tirelessly within the pages of the Bible and then walk accordingly no matter the cost. Then, let’s give Him all the glory that He deserves.