The Reformation Part 8: Solum Evangelium1
The Reformation (Part 8):
By the time of the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church had obscured the simplicity of the gospel through the invention of an elaborate merit system of salvation. As I mentioned in a previous blog, that system was built on the twin errors of Sacerdotalism (people cannot approach God on their own, but must come through a priest) & Sacramentalism (people cannot be saved directly by the grace of God but rather that people receive grace incrementally through the seven sacraments).
The System at Work (circa 1517)
Rome enjoyed a monopoly on salvation. Here’s how the game worked:
- Merit is necessary for salvation.
- Merit (salvation points) can only be obtained through the Roman Sacramental System. (The Treasury of Merit)
- No one knows how many points you need so you can never know if you’ve done enough
- Certain types of sin negate or remove merit
- Your level of accrued merit points determines your afterlife destination (Heaven, Hell or Purgatory)
- Purgatory (purging) is for the Roman Catholic who hasn’t done enough to get to heaven but has enough points to avoid hell. Merit points were added to the person based on the number of years they spend in in purgatory.
- A “get out of purgatory card” could be obtained through an Indulgence.
- An Indulgence supposedly purchased a pardon or remission of sin by the Pope based on merit drawn from the Treasury of Merit (I’m not making this up). The Treasury of Merit was filled by the righteousness of Christ, Mary and the Saints (dead Catholics who had more merit points than they needed to earn there own salvation).
- Indulgences were sold (yes, for money) at first for years off purgatory than eventually for the Complete Remission Of All Sins For All Time! It was this last super sale that led to Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis against Indulgences and “selling salvation”.
In sharp contrast to Rome the Reformers pointed Christians back to the simplicity of the Biblical Gospel. The Reformers teaching on the Gospel is summarized by the Latin phrase, “Solum Evangelium”. (The Gospel Alone), which reminds Christians that the Gospel message alone is God’s Power for Salvation and Plan of Salvation. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
The Content of the Gospel
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that the Gospel is “Christ died, was buried and rose again the third day for our sins”.
Our Response to the Gospel
Since Christ has already paid the penalty of sin we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone!
Make It Matter
- Repent of your sins, (turn away from them and towards Christ) and believe (trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!
- Preach the Gospel clearly!
- Deepen your understanding and experience of the Protestant faith by attending the course, The Reformation, offered at both the 8:30 and 10:30 services at Kindred beginning on September 3.
Leading up to the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation on October 31st, I will be reflecting on key principles taught by the Reformers. Next week we look at Martin Luther & The German Reformation.
© Dave Doyle