Our Glorious Protestant Reformation
Public Meeting arranged by the Trinitarian Bible Society (West Anglia Auxiliary)
and Christian Watch held at Clifton, Bedfordshire
Following an introduction to the Trinitarian Bible Society by Mr. Graham Hadley, Chairman of the TBS West Anglia Auxiliary and an introduction to Christian Watch by Mr. Ian Henderson, Vice-Chairman of Christian Watch, the Meeting opened with the singing of Martin Luther’s hymn — Come Holy Spirit, God and Lord. A large congregation had gathered on this notable occasion as Mr. David Lawson (CW Committee Member) chaired the Meeting and invited Mr. Graham Chewter (TBS Deputation Speaker) to address those present.
Bible readings from Psalm 46 and Psalm 78 verses 1-11 were followed by an excellent exposition on the Protestant Reformation by Mr. Chewter who emphasised the mighty work of the Holy Spirit of God. He emphasised the need to understand the ways of God in history and to have a living faith in a living God.
The Protestant Reformation, he recalled,was the most significant event since Pentecost. Prior to 1517, the worship of relics was prevalent, but it wasn’t all darkness. Examples such as the Waldensians, John Wycliffe (the Morning Star of the Reformation who translated the Bible into English), Jerome of Prague (the means used by the Lord to save John Hus), the Renaissance (bringing a renewed interest in art and poetry), the Printing Press (Gutenberg) – all contributed to the river that flowed into the sea of the Reformation.
The Reformation began in three separate countries independently – Switzerland, Germany and England. In Switzerland, there were 13 States or Cantons that belonged to the Holy Roman Empire, but Ulrich Zwingli became a great preacher. In Germany, Martin Luther came to discover the awesome holiness of God and saw the corruptions of Rome, coming to discover that wonderful text in Romans 1 v 17 – the just shall live by faith. His 95 theses – the basis of debate amongst University students – was used by God to awaken people’s concerns about matters spiritual. In England, Erasmus published the Textus Receptus – the Greek New Testament – and the first convert on reading the Greek New Testament was Thomas Bilney. William Tyndale was also converted by reading the Greek New Testament.
Mr. Chewter advised that Luther had some rough edges – the best of men are only men at best (Job 32 v 9), but John 3 v 16 was a comfort to his soul on his deathbed.
God then raised up another generation of Reformers – John Calvin and John Knox amongst them and also the English Puritans, as well as Bishops Latimer and Ridley. Many died for their faith and Foxes Book of Martyrs recounts the cruelty of the Church of Rome during this period.
So, what is the legacy of the Protestant Reformation? The legacy was a bringing back of the people to the Word of God; education; democracy (no longer shackled to a corrupt system); the Bible’s influence on poetry and music; the Protestant work ethic; legal reform and the primacy of preaching. Preach the Word! (2 Timothy 4 v 2).
The Meeting closed with a singing of Martin Luther’s rousing hymn based on Psalm 46 — A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing — and an opportunity to enjoy fellowship and refreshments kindly provided by Clifton Chapel members.
Praise God, from
Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
By: Ian Henderson