Rallying Cries of the Reformation


Martin Luther (1483-1546)

It is appropriate for Christians to remember the significant heroes of the past. This is especially true for Protestants, since there have been so many great champions from the Reformation (1517-1658) who made a major impact upon the present day church—men such as: Theodore Beza, Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, Oliver Cromwell, John Hus, John Knox, Hugh Latimer, Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Pierre-Robert Olivetan, Caspar Olevianus, Nicolas Ridley, Samuel Rutherford, William Tyndale, Zacharias Ursinus, John Wycliffe, Ulrich Zwingli, and many other lesser known persons. Each one of these Reformers, despite some of their individual differences, greatly influenced the church in their own particular region to hold to right doctrine (orthodoxy) and to develop right practices (orthopraxy) in their churches based upon the Bible. This is why taking time to remember these men each year on Reformation Day (October 31st), the very day that Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral in 1517, is good and right and proper. Consider the following “rallying cries” as hard-won blessings which have been “bought with blood” for the benefit of Christ’s Church during this current era in which we live.

  1. “By Scripture Alone” (Sola Scriptura): The Bible alone is the source of God’s revelation; it contains the Law, the Gospel, and principles for how we should live, worship and think. It is referred to as the “formal principle” of the Reformation (Isa. 40:8; Jn. 5:39, 10:35; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; Heb. 4:12-13).
  2. “By Christ Alone” (Solus Christus): Jesus Christ is the only name by which we may be saved. The gospel is exclusive, and only faith in Christ saves (Isa.  53:1-12; Jn. 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5-7; Acts 4:12).
  3. “By Grace Alone” (Sola Gratia): God’s grace alone is the ground of our salvation, and this is received by faith alone; (i.e.) the “material principle” of the Reformation  (Ps. 31:1; Eph. 2:4-10; Tit. 2:11-14).
  4. “By Faith Alone” (Sola Fide): God-given faith is the only way to receive the imputed righteousness of Christ, which results in our justification (Rom. 1:16-17, 3:28; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5-7).
  5. “Before the face of God” (Coram Deo): Christians are exhorted by the Bible to live all of life in the presence of God. This implies that there is no area of life where we do not have “business with God” [Negotium cum Deo]. Christ is Lord over all (Prov. 15:3; Eph. 5:1-21; Col. 3:1-17).
  6. “To God Be the Glory” (Soli Deo Gloria): God alone is the proper recipient of our gratitude in the matter of salvation and the Christian life (1 Cor. 10:31; Tit. 3:5-7; 1 Pt. 4:10-11).
  7. “The Priesthood of Every Believer” (Communio Sanctorum): Every believer is exhorted by God to live-out the Christian life as a “holy venture” that pleases God (1 Pt. 2:9-10). Our sanctification and assurance of salvation are based solely upon the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross (Rom.  12:1-2; 1 Jn. 1:9, 5:13; 1 Pt. 2:21-25).
  8. “After Darkness, Light” (Post Tenebras Lux): This was the town motto of Geneva, Switzerland during the time of the Reformation. It reflects the wonderful deliverance from their former way of life that the local population came to feel as they lived by the doctrines of the Bible (Jn. 3:19-21 and 8:12; Eph. 4:17-32; Col. 1:13-14).

Resources for further Study:

Beeke, Joel, Sinclair Ferguson, eds. Reformed Confessions Harmonized. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.

Douglas, J. D., ed. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church. Revised edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978.

  • “Anabaptist” by Robert G. Clouse
  • “Calvin, John” and “Calvinism” by J. S. Reid
  • “Luther, Martin” and “Lutheranism” by Carl S. Meyer
  • “Protestantism” by David C. Steinmetz
  • “Radical Reformation” by Haddon Wilmer
  • “The Reformation” by Robert D. Linder.

George, Timothy. Theology of the Reformers. Revised edition. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2013.

Lindsay, Thomas M. The Reformation: A Handbook. First published in 1882; Reprint, Edinburgh, UK: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2006.

McKim, Donald K., ed. Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992.

Muller, Richard A. Dictionary of Latin & Greek Theological Terms. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1985.

Nichols, Stephen. The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007.

Sproul, R. C. What Is Reformed Theology? Formerly titled: Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1977.

Copyright May, 2016   Dr. Marcus Serven, ThM and DMin
Used by Permission.  All Rights Reserved.

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