It is appropriate for Christians to remember the heroes of the past. This is especially the case for Protestants, since there have been some truly great champions from the Reformation era (1517-1650) who have made a major impact upon the present day church—men such as: John Wycliffe, John Hus, Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Martin Bucer, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, John Knox, William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, Thomas Cranmer, Nicolas Ridley, and Ulrich Zwingli. Each of these Reformers greatly influenced the church in theology and practice. That is why remembering their life, faith, and death is appropriate. Consider the following “rallying cries” as hard-won blessings which have been “bought with blood” for the benefit of the modern church.
1. “By Christ Alone” (Solus Christus): Jesus Christ alone is the name by which we may be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
2. “Scripture Alone” (Sola Scriptura): The Bible alone is the source of God’s revelation, the gospel (John 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:14-17).
3. “By Grace Alone” (Sola Gratia): God’s grace alone is the ground of salvation, and this is received by faith (Ephesians 2:4-10; Titus 2:11-14).
4. “By Faith Alone” (Sola Fide): God-given faith is the only way to receive the imputed righteousness of Christ, and this results in our justification (Romans 3:28; Ephesians 2:8-9).
5. “In The Presence Of God” (Coram Deo): Christians are exhorted by the Bible to live all of life in the presence of God. This implies that there is no area of life where you do not have (negotium cum Deo) “business with God” (Ephesians 5:1-14; Colossians 3:1-17).
6. “To God Be the Glory” (Soli Deo Gloria): God alone is the proper recipient of our gratitude in the matter of salvation and the Christian life (1 Corinthians 10:31; Titus 3:5-7).
7. “The Priesthood of Every Believer” (Communio Sanctorum): Every believer is exhorted by God to live-out the Christian life as a “holy venture” that pleases God (1 Peter 2:9-10). Forgiveness from sin and personal assurance of salvation are based upon the finished work of Christ on the Cross (1 John 1:9; 1 Peter 2:21-25).
8. “After Darkness, Light” (Post Tenebras Lux): This was the motto of Geneva, Switzerland. It reflects the deliverance the population came to feel as they lived by the doctrines of the Bible (John 3:19-21, 8:12).
Resources for Further Study:
— Douglas, J.D., ed. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church. Revised edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978.
— George, Timothy. Theology of the Reformers. Nashville, TN: The Broadman Press, 1988.
— McKim, Donald K., ed. Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992.
— Muller, Richard A. Dictionary of Latin & Greek Theological Terms. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1985.
— Sproul, R. C. Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1997.
— Sproul, R. C. Jr., ed. After Darkness Light: Distinctives of Reformed Theology. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2003.