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The Gospel Coalition
Reformation 500 Statement
Today we join with millions of Christians around the world in celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Granted, dates like these are hard to pin down. Who is to say when something as big as the Reformation began? And what about those who labored for reform long before October 31, 1517? Nevertheless, for centuries, Protestants have instinctively recognized that a providential series of events was set in motion on this day 500 years ago when a German professor named Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
We give thanks for Martin Luther, imperfect though he was, for the role he played in igniting a reform movement that caught fire in the cities of the Holy Roman Empire, spread through the rest of Europe, and now reaches to the ends of the earth. Wherever we find the Scriptures alone as the highest and final authority, grace alone as the only hope for sinners, faith alone as the only ground for justification, Christ alone as the only atoning sacrifice for sin, and God alone as the ultimate object of our worship—wherever we find these truths sung, savored, and celebrated, we have reason to rejoice in the Reformation.
But we do more on this day than give thanks for the past. We also marvel at what we see in the present. Who but God could have foreseen the triumphs of the gospel in the last 500 years—from the planting of Reformation churches in the New World, to the explosion of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa, to revivals in Korea, to the endurance (and now spectacular) growth of the church in China, to renewed gospel vibrancy in places as diverse as Australia, the Arabian Peninsula, Brazil, and India? Who but God could have known that once the Bible was translated into English and German and French it would also be translated into Albanian, Cambodian, Japanese, Oshindonga, Navajo, and Swahili? Who but God could have predicted that with the advent of airplanes, radios, and the internet, the good news of justification by faith alone in Christ alone through grace alone would be available to more people in more places than at any time in history? This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes (Ps. 118:23).
And yet, we are not blind to the challenges facing the church: secularization in the former countries of Christendom, opposition to biblical orthodoxy in the West, and increasing violence against the church in parts of the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. Theological heterodoxy holds sway in too many places, as do grinding poverty (on the one hand) and affluent indifference (on the other). And this is to say nothing of rising racial tensions, widespread nominalism, and the plight of those—numbering in the billions—who have no access to the gospel.
But Scripture tells us that the word of God is not bound (2 Timothy 2:9). What we know from the Bible and have seen in history—that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16)—we expect to see in the years ahead. We are not confident in ourselves or in our ministries. We are but a vapor, a mist that appears and then vanishes away (James 4:4). We will not change the world, or even a single human heart, but we know the One who can and does. The God that Luther proclaimed is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and our God too. Though cultures change, and the church with it at times, the Head of the Church does not change. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
And so on this momentous day when we celebrate the rediscovery of the gospel and the recovery of true worship, we commit ourselves once again to the worship of our triune God and the gladhearted declaration of this gospel. And if the Lord should tarry another half millennium, our prayer is not to be remembered as Luther is, but only to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands as he was.
The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God will stand forever (Isa. 40:8).
Three Recommendations for Christmas
We'd love to recommend three books to you during the Christmas season. We hope that you'll read one, give a copy to a friend, and talk about it over coffee or a meal.
Child in the Manger by Sinclair Ferguson
Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional by Marty Machowski
Christmas Playlist by Alistair Begg
[On October 31,] we join with millions of Christians around the world in celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
ANNUAL MEETING AND ANNUAL REPORT We invite each member and attender to join us for our Annual Meeting at 6pm during the evening service on September 10. The 2016 annual report is available in the info racks and will be available for download here.
We invite each member and attendee to join us for the upcoming Annual Meeting on October 30, 2016, at 6pm during the evening worship service. This meeting fulfills our legal requirement as a non-profit organization in the state of Ohio and there will be a brief statement of the financial report. The 2015 annual report is available in the info racks or available in PDF form here.
This past week we returned to the Auditorium after the completion of its renovation.
We invite each member and attendee to join us for the upcoming Annual Meeting on Sept. 27, 2015 at 6pm during the evening worship service. This meeting fulfills our legal requirement as a non-profit organization in the state of Ohio and there will be a brief statement of the financial report. The 2014 annual report is available in the info racks or in PDF form Here.
Location: Garfield Middle School (13114 Detroit Ave. Lakewood, OH 44017)
Start Time: Sun 27, Sept. 2015, 10 a.m.
End Time: Sun 27, Sept. 2015, 11:15 a.m.
It's official! The launch date for Parkside Church Westside Sunday services will be September 27 at 10:00am in Garfield Middle School (Lakewood). Visit our website at www.parksidechurchwestside.com for more information.
As we continue to prepare to church plant we are asking for 200 people to join us as prayer partners. There is a sense in which I am increasingly recognizing the "prayer is the work of ministry." Will you be one of the 200 who join with us in asking God to show us favor, equip us for ministry and see many come to saving faith in Jesus?
Location: The University of Akron Lakewood, 1415 Warren Rd. Lakewood, OH 44107
Start Time: Sun 8, Feb. 2015, 4 p.m.
End Time: Sun 8, Feb. 2015, 6 p.m.
This has been a really exciting season for our Westside church plant. We are so encouraged by the interest in the plant as evidenced by the response to the information meetings that we have held. Our prayerful goal is to have 100 individuals committed to the plant by the launch of our first service in September 2015.
We are excited to take the next step together of meeting for Core Team Gatherings at The University of Akron Lakewood, at 1415 Warren Rd., Lakewood, OH. Our first meeting there will be on Sunday, February 8, from 5pm-7pm.