“A high cost for Reformation: Can you prudently count it?”
The 16th Century reformation was led by heroes of the Christian faith who through diligent study of the Holy Scriptures and observation of Church beliefs and practice came to comprehend that the church had long veered off the correct path of biblical Christianity. The authority of the Bible and the doctrines found there had long been skewed and in some cases abandoned in favor of human authority and preferences which in actual sense were heresies imposed upon the Church.
The reformers could not remain silent after realizing how unbiblical the church had become, so they spoke up and used every opportunity available to them to teach the Bible. However, their convictions and teaching were not welcomed as they were seen as rebellious towards the establishment at that time. They were declared enemies of the church and heretics. But, this did not deter them. They continued to speak up with authority of the biblical Gospel while strongly opposing any beliefs and practices that were in contradiction to what the Bible teaches us.
Their desire to remain faithful to the Bible was not initially welcomed but proved to be a dangerous venture as it threatened a system that had greatly enriched and given excessive authority to the institutional religious hierarchy built around a tradition of more than 1000 years.
For the Reformers therefore, this was a dangerous venture, and in a culture that did not tolerate doctrinal differences, there was a high price to pay for their beliefs. They were persecuted and suffered many things at the hands of the institutional religion of the day, paying with their lives as martyrs for the cause of biblical Christianity.
Today, we need to understand that just as it was with the early reformers, our cause for sound biblical Christianity is gradually being shunned in preference of secularism, relativism and tolerance that serves human liberties and freedoms. Even from within the church, opposition is growing against sound doctrine, in an era that cherishes a guiltless and shameless society that denies the gravity of sin and the power of Christ to save. Reformation will still be costly for us as proponents of returning to the Bible basics, since the Gospel call is viewed in various establishments as an attack on some individuals and institutions.
Many have built their ministries on human experience, ecstasy, charlatanism, mysticism, and all sorts of spiritual formulations that have no basis in the Bible. And they do this because it serves them in some way – as a power base, material gain, fame and celebrity life; they now rise up in arms when they are called to account for what they preach. And yet we cannot afford to remain silent because anything (teaching or practice) that is unbiblical, is very dangerous for believers now and eternally.
So, just as Paul warns, today’s reformers must recall that false teaching is like a little yeast that will work through the whole batch of dough quickly (1 Cor. 5:7-8; Gal. 5:9), leaving in its wake a lot of ruin in the lives of individuals, whole households and our society (Titus 1:11). It is therefore required of any individuals passionate about God and His glory to diligently study the Scripture such that they are in position to teach and encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (Titus 1:9).
In a day and age where various forces and voices are competing for our time and attention, we will need to prepare to sacrifice and forfeit so much in order to realize reform. We should be encouraged by the fact that we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses from every age that have endured the scorn and malice of the masses as they stood for what was godly. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ warned us early on that the world would reject us because we are not of the world and the ideas we are advancing are not of the world but godly (John 15:20). The call for us therefore is to show mercy while reaching out and yet still being cautious not to be derailed (Jude 22-23).
By Patrick Byekwaso
Lugogo Baptist Church