The Bible was the central pillar of the Reformation and with good reason. The Bible offers the most comprehensive answers to the great existential and philosophical questions of life. Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? And Where am I going? These are questions that every single human being grapples with regardless of personal beliefs and biases. In answering those questions the Bible paints a picture of a great controversy that began in heaven, spilled out onto the earth and continues both individually and corporately in the world today.
The narrative of the great controversy offers us a bird’s eye view of the origin of sin, God’s purpose in creating man, the fall of man and the plan of redemption to restore man back his original state. This is the story of the gospel.
The truth is God made us for the purpose of reflecting His character, a character that is rooted in relationships, a character that is defined as love. The only way we are able to fulfill this purpose is through an intimate relationship with God and the only way we can have that kind of relationship with Him is through mutual communication that is based on trust and obedience. What do I mean by that? Well communication is a two way street and not only are we able to share our thoughts and feelings with God but when He chooses to do the same with us, say regarding our choices, or our behaviour or the type of company we keep, He longs for us to trust him and take on board what he says.
In a nutshell, the character of God is best revealed in the human heart by our willingness to trust and obey God’s commandments because we love him. The Bible plays a pivotal role in this entire process because it is God’s chosen method of communication with the human agent. It is how he speaks to us.
The work of the Reformation was to restore that relationship between God and man by ensuring that the Bible was placed in the hands of the common man. Each reformer that stood up as a champion did so as a result of a personal encounter with the word of God and each reformer made it his first priority to bring those within his sphere of influence into direct and personal contact with God. They fought for it, prayed for it, wrote about it and ultimately sacrificed their ives for it. It permeated every aspect of their lives. It changed them completely and in doing so changed the spiritual landscape of Europe and the world. Each man passed the torch on to the ones who came after him in a grand, almost ceremonially coordinated relay. Wycliffe to Huss and Jerome and then on to Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Latimer, Cranmer, Ridley and the list goes on. The Reformation spawned some of the brightest luminaries to grace the spheres of spirituality and scholarship.
But the story doesn’t end there. The work that the great Reformers of the 16th and 17th centuries began and carried forward so faithfully was to be brought to completion by others who would come after them.
The Reformation would spawn one of the most significant spiritual awakenings in Christendom.
This awakening would not be heralded by the scholarship of the great learning centers of Europe but rather by the intense devotion of humble potato farmers, circuit-riding preachers and impassioned spiritual activists in a faraway land that was just beginning to rise up as a nation. Standing on the shores of an old world that had just been through the rigors of a sometimes bloody and brutal reformatory process one could discern the promise of a greater battle looming on the shores of the new world. The new revolution was on its way.