January is just around the corner and with it the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018. The month of January actually gets its name from the Roman two-headed god, Janus, who is always depicted as looking backwards and forwards. It’s an apt name for this time of year which inspires both reflection on the past year and inspiration for the coming one. With that in mind, I thought it good to choose two things to discuss, one looking back and the other looking forward, both happening within a few days of each other: The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and Seven Mile Road’s Vision Night.
October 31st, 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. While many issues ultimately led to the division of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, the most major issues are accurately summed up in five latin phrases, the 5 Sola’s as they are called (Solae/Soli if you are a Latin purist):
- Solus Christus (Christ alone)
- Sola Gratia (grace alone)
- Sola Fide (faith alone)
- Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone)
- Sola Scriptura (scripture alone)
Summed up very briefly, we as protestants believe that salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone which leads us to live the whole of our lives for the glory of God alone and we trust in this belief on the authority of Scripture alone. I think looking backwards on these principles can be a wonderful guiding light as we look forward in our Vision.
October 29th, 2017 Seven Mile Road held it’s vision night, and our elders shared their hopes and plans for our church’s next 3 years. As we expectantly plan to plant churches we are reminded that it is by God’s graceful provision alone that we even exist as a church today and it is through Christ’s power and grace that we will see other churches planted. We act not on a blind faith, but in fact a well informed one by God’s word and promises.
The most personally interesting of the Solae to me as laymen is soli deo gloria. The controversy that led to its formation was that Romanists had postulated that there were sacred and secular divides in life and work, a divide between what happens in the life of the Christian on Sundays and the rest of the week. What the reformers, particularly Luther, were so good at emphasizing, was that it was the totality of the Christian’s life that was meant to bring glory to God. This is particularly applicable to SMR’s bucket of a healthy local church. As we envision doing justice, missional engagement, youth ministry and so many other things, we are bringing all areas and walks of life under God’s authority for his glory. As we hope to further develop our church’s policies and positions, we do so by submitting to God-breathed Scriptures as our ultimate authority.
So we look back at SMR’s history and at a unique time in church history and it drives us forward. Through our history and the scriptures we can rejoice in Jesus’ great salvation that purchases the whole of our lives, past, present and future. By his grace and through faith SMR will press forward into 2018 and beyond growing closer to God, bringing glory to God and advancing his kingdom.
Happy New Year Seven Mile Road.