Thursday, March 02, 2006

PART I: Introduction to Reformed Evangelical Movement

This is my personal summary of the seminar of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on the Future of Reformed Evangelical Movement on 23rd February 2006 (Session 1)

If a person does not see where value is, he would not be diligent with his life. But those who have seen and understood and yet do not respond are the rebellious.

What is reformed?

It means to return to God, to the Truth. It means to have the right thought system, the right faith, the right ministry, the right pathway. God says that He will inspire us and leads us into the path of righteousness for His name's sake. The Reformation is a movement that returns to the Scriptures and is modeled after the historical Jesus Christ.

The term ‘reformed’ reminds us that Christianity must have orthodoxy. It demands us to be built upon the Scriptures truth and to hold onto the teaching of the apostles.

Which one then truly summarizes the teaching of the apostles? Not only Charismatics have deviated, even important evangelical leaders have deviated.

The mark of a true church is faithfulness to the true teaching of the Scriptures. This is not an issue of arrogance, of luxury, or of disputable matters. This is a matter of absolute necessity. When the church no longer stays faithful to the Scriptures, she opens the door for the enemy.

But where do we draw the line? Absolute teaching cannot be compromised. Relative teaching needs not be insisted upon. When we make the absolute relative, we make even the enemies our brothers. When we make relative absolute, we make brothers our enemies. But who decides what is absolute and what is relative?

This has to do with our approach, whether we are God-centered or man-centered. One example is our approach towards music. Do we want to teach others to appreciate those great music written for God or we just want to let people sing whatever they like?

(Personal Note: Ultimately knowing the absolute and relative is presupposition because it can only be known by God’s Revelation. On our side here, having the heart to see God as God and men as men is the starting point of the right spiritual understanding and hence is the beginning of knowing what is absolute and what is relative.)

We wonder at the growth of charismatic and contemporary churches because they cater to what the masses want. We excuse ourselves saying because we are orthodox we can never have big crowd. However, we should ask ourselves why only the charismatic churches can reach out to all kinds of people? It is not that there is not answer for us, but that we have not found the answers yet. We have surrendered before we fight. There's more unbelief and belief in our hearts and many church leaders have blinded themselves.

Reformed evangelical movement consists of two main forces. Our faithfulness to God is internal, but it has to express itself externally in brave battles. A dog that can bite is better than a sleeping lion. So many people are sleeping in their theological study. Karl Marx said that philosophy is not confined in the classroom but is the power to change human history. If Christians understand this, they will be able to engage in real battles and face the enemy. When we are in our comfort zone, we are sleeping and are unaware of our enemies.

We need to be courageous. We cannot forsake our courage. We cannot replace humility with fear. We should not compromise before we even try.

Martin Luther was just one humble monk who had to face the challenge to destroy the entire system that had been established for 1000 years. Imagine the kind of courage and power he needed.

God said to Jeremiah that He would send him to do the work of destruction and the work of rebuilding. God used Martin Luther to destroy the wrong system and used Calvin to build a correct system. They never taught any new doctrines but only made known what had been given to the Church since the days of the Apostles.

Calvin wrote a masterpiece of Institute of Christian Religion while Martin Luther established the 5 Solas.

Sola Scriptura

We cannot mix God's Word with men's words because His Word is eternal Truth revealed to us. Human philosophy is reaction towards God's general revelation and is a product of fallen reason.

While Augustinian theology influenced Calvin a lot, there's a difference between Calvin and Augustine. Augustine gave a lot of place to philosophy at the same level as the Word of God while Calvin, though he quoted human philosophy, never gave them a place equal to the Scriptures. So when Calvin expounded on God's creation, salvation and revelation, he found his source in the Scriptures alone.

Sola Fide

It is reliance on the faith that is given to us. Many people, especially the charismatic believers, teach that it's our faith that causes God to work. However, the faith meant by sola fide her is the faith that comes from hearing the Word of God, not our own faith. Christian faith is not the same as self-confidence. On God-given faith alone we can rely on.

Sola Gratia

We are all unworthy recipients. “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” It is not bound by our work, but it is all by His grace. (Rom.6:23)

Solus Christus

Only in Jesus we escape judgment and made righteous, made the children of God, and receive all spiritual blessings.

Soli Deo Gloria

All these given to us are not for self-glory, but to the glory of God alone.

So these 5 solas are the core values of true Christianity. False teaching would not hold in these 5 solas. In false teaching, we hear men's words, see men's faith, men's strength, men's identity and men's glory.

Not many people can understand the essence of reformed evangelical movement and even less people are willing to pay the price to stand up for it.


Post a Comment

<< Home