Monday, October 30, 2006

How Marvellous, How Wonderful…
A Guest Post for Reformation Day, 2006

By John Kivell

You will notice that I have taken as the title of this post, if not the content, lines from the chorus of a favourite hymn. This will not be some grand theological treatise, but rather a few very personal thoughts on the significance of the Reformation.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Eph 2:4,5 NIV)

How marvellous is God’s plan of salvation – a plan that could have been written by no human hand or imagined by no human intellect. How wonderful is this truth, even if it may seem to from time to time have been forgotten; buried in the mists of time, or tradition, or fashion, or ignored in favour of some formula of human invention that transfers sovereignty from God to man. But the truth is always there, even if it is forgotten. It is there even if we don’t know it, or indeed whether or not anybody knows it. In fact it was there, for each of us, even when we didn’t know it, because as Paul writes, “…While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8b)

The reformation did not bring a new thing – it remembered an old thing; an ancient thing; a thing that had been there all along, as truth always is.

But how marvelous to know it. How wonderful the assurance of it!

What a blessing to those who first discover it, or to a Church that re-discovers it.

Chesterton has written of the deaths of the church, although as he was a Catholic, I’m sure he didn’t write it in approval of the Reformation. But I think the image fits. Just as out of the seeming destruction of a forest fire springs regrowth and new life, so out of the ashes of a dead and corrupt church came the rediscovery of these earliest truths and the Church was reborn.

How marvellous to realize we are saved by God’s grace alone, not by our works, which would be so pitifully inadequate to earn us the right to stand in His presence.

How wonderful to be assured that no further suffering beyond that of Christ on the cross was necessary as payment for our salvation and that the fictional netherworld of “purgatory” is a mere fabrication of man. “Jesus paid it all!”

How marvellous to know that the hand of God has written the formula for our rescue from sin. How wonderful to realize that Jesus, by his death and resurrection, has accomplished it. How beautiful that God has told us of it in His Holy word. How comforting that He has given us His Holy Spirit that we might be confident in Him.

How great is our God!

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