From its earliest days corruption, contamination and perversion began to subtly creep into the church, through compromise and unbiblical teaching. As Christianity spread throughout the known world, it became known as the Catholic Church, which simply means universal. Later a close affinity developed between the Roman Government and the Catholic Church and there was further erosion of the clear doctrines of the Bible. The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church became more focused on the human leader (the Pope) and its traditions, rather than the Word of God.

Martin Luther was the key figure in challenging, what were considered erroneous extra-biblical traditions and works-based practices of Roman Catholicism. In 1517 he listed 95 concerns which he posted on the cathedral door, calling the Church back to the good news of salvation by grace alone through faith alone (Eph 2:8,9). With others he began a restructuring or reforming of some churches, leading to their separation from the Roman Catholic Church and his recognition as the founder of Protestantism. Reformation Day is commemorated on October 31.

The reformers considered the Roman Catholic Church to be error in four key areas – how a person is saved, where religious authority lies, the nature of

Does my faith need some reformation?

the church, and what is the essence of Christian living. To explain their understandings the protestant reformers established five essential points of doctrine all grounded in Scripture.

1/. Scripture alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith and practice, and the standard by which all teachings and doctrine must be measured.

2/. Salvation (that releases us from sin and raises us up from spiritual death to spiritual life) is by God’s grace alone.

3/. Justification is through faith in Christ – faith alone. His righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice.

4/. Salvation is only found in Christ – by Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement is sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to God the Father.

5/. Salvation is of God and has been accomplished for His glory alone. As Christians we must glorify Him at all times, and live our lives honourably under His authority for His glory alone.

Today these still provide a good yardstick by which to evaluate our own beliefs and those of Protestant Christianity and where necessary return to these roots.

See also: Bible, compromise, doctrine, foundation, glory, justification, Luther/Martin, Protestant, reform, Roman Catholicism, salvation.

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