Reformation events were taking place before the eventful date of October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Roman Catholic church door in Wittenberg Germany. Since then, the call is the same, Biblical authority, is to lead the church in faith and in practice. Salvation is by Grace, through Faith, in Christ alone. These were areas of concern for our forefathers, and remain today. Though many long hard battles have been fought, it seems many have forgotten to fight for doctrinal purity but refute bad theology and the dangers they bring. As a church in Mississauga, we believe, more than ever it is paramount to ensure not only do we hold to but teach what are known as the pillars of the Reformation.
The Mill Christian Fellowship teaches the following:
This first term, is the first link in a chain, and like the others is a Latin term for “Scripture Alone”. This doctrine arose to address the perceived error in the medieval teaching of the Roman Catholic church. It was not that the Roman Catholic church was denying the inspiration or inerrancy of Holy Scripture, it was because over the course of many years, the Roman Catholic church walked the slippery slope of tradition. After many years of misplaced ideology, and poor theology, the Roman church places Scripture, and tradition as authoritative. So, Deo Verbum, The Word of God, in the view of the Roman church was through divine revelation, and tradition. This placing the bishop of Rome (The Pope) and those overseers under him in a place to speak, teach (Ex Cathedra) as final authority regarding both faith and practice in the Christian faith.
As part of the theological call of Reformation, the thought, which we now label Sola Scriptura, was an attempt to fix this error. The Reformed position is that the Bible itself, of Scripture alone is inspired, infallible, authoritative, sufficient, and final for all matters of faith and practice. The foundation for this is clearly observed than in 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Holding to Sola Scriptura, does not mean, we do not recognize the importance of extra Biblical writings to aid and assist with matters of doctrine. Therefore, we still honour and utilize creeds and confessions, as they rest upon the authority of Scripture in their articulation on matters pertaining to the faith. However, these creeds and confessions are not above Holy Scripture.
If one had to declare one main spark, that ignited the fire of the Reformation, it would be Faith Alone. It was this disagreement between the Protestant Reformers and the Roman Catholic church in the sixteenth century. This matter is still an issue today. It must be stressed, the Roman Catholic church does not deny justification by faith, the matter is justification by faith alone. Martin Luther along with other Reformers stood on this ground and made no provision to deviate away from the central truth, which all Protestant denominations should still adamantly hold to. Why? The doctrine of justification by faith alone, is as Luther states, “is the article by which the church stands or falls”. This may seem a little over exaggerated, but considering the context of the sixteenth century, and what is taking place today – very important.
The doctrine of justification, for the Roman Catholic church was clearly set within the Council of Trent (1547), as a reaction and response to the Reformation. By stating such doctrines and placing anathema (Cursed) on those who would teach otherwise. To summarize, the council confirmed Rome’s Position, that to be just, you must take part in sacraments. Such as baptism, and penance. There was a need for hope and charity, and that to be declared righteous before God, the person has to be made righteous by God. In other words, sanctification, and renewal of the inward man. The grounds of one’s justification, in the Roman church including this sanctification and renewal, was the declaration of infused righteousness (Meaning grace is poured into the soul, and as long as one cooperates, they are renewed and sanctified. Therefore, an individual may lose their salvation through mortal sin. Since mortal sin can be forgiven, the sacrament of penance is required, and penance brings indulgences.
The Reformers understood, as we should today that there is only ONE who is perfect and righteous. Jesus Christ, not man. There is nothing in man to achieve this. Humanity is fallen, sinful, corrupt unrighteous creatures. Therefore, infusion cannot ever be the grounds of justification, but righteousness needed to be imputed. There needed to be a legal process in which sin can be imputed to another, and that others righteousness imputed upon the sinner – this was done through Christ. Therefore, the central, main and only instrument of justification is through faith alone, sola fide. Faith is a gift of God, delivered by grace.
In our statement on what we teach we declare that we reject semi-Pelagian theology. One reason being is that Pelagius held to, and taught that man was able to obey God, outside salvation, because Adam’s sin was exclusively Adam’s and no other. Pelagian theology teaches, since Adam was created with the disposition to either obey God or disobey God, all men therefore were created with the same disposition. Through their obedience, or good works, this would be a merit for salvation. If they did not have good works, they would have no merit and would face the judgement of God.
Augustinian theology teaches the true, and opposite of Pelagius. That is, Adam’s sim did indeed impact all creation, including his decedents. Therefore, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). This means all people who were, are and will be born are under what is called the bondage of the will. They are spiritually dead, no able to choose, act, or will anything acceptable to a Holy God (Rom 3, 5:6, Eh 2:1)
Because of this reality, all confessions, including those found in The Mill’s creeds and Confession’s page point to the doctrine of grace alone (Sola Gratia). This. Doctrine means we are dead, and the only thing dead men can do is stink. There is no self-performing CPR, not automatic deliberator to get the heart to start right, no medicine in which we can drink. Outside of grace, we are rotting in a tomb, wrapped in the stench of our own sinful rags and only an act of effectual grace, pure, loving grace that bring about a new birth. In other words, grace alone.
Currently, almost all Evangelical statement of faiths will address the person of Christ. In fact, many of those statements regarding who Jesus is, his humanity and divinity would align with not only the Roman Catholic church, but the Eastern Orthodox church as well. Like in the days of the Reformation, the identity of Christ was not the main issue as these matters were settled at Chalcedon. What needed to be addressed was, and perhaps still today is the work of Christ.
In the Roman Catholic church, many are familiar with priests, confessionals and how they take the eucharist. It is here where the work of Christ is attacked. The Roman church, and their sacraments have one central problem – they lock in or control the believer. From the moment one is born, there is a need of Baptism, then catechism, confirmation, sacramental obedience, then at death, and purgatory all about control. What the bishops and overseers were doing because of their traditions and apostatizing theology was usurping the authority of Christ. It was the church that bestowed grace upon a person, not Christ – and this is serious.
There is only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (2 Tim 2:5). The office of mediator is the result of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation. Scripture is clear, there is only one name under heaven by which man can be saved, at the name of Jesus Christ (Act 4:12) and who ever calls upon this name shall be saved (Rom 10:13). For the Reformers, the centre of worship was not the traditions of the church, nor was it the eucharist and false theology of transubstantiation, it was through preaching Christ alone, the worship was to Christ alone, it was all centralized-on Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria
Everything God does is for His glory. In fact, since the Holy Spirit breathed out the Word so that we can find understand our dilemma and found our way to salvation that is offered by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone all points to one truth – it is all to the Glory of God alone (soli Deo Gloria).
God is glorified in the lost sheep that is found, and the rebellious creature condemned. He is glorified through the local assembly of believers called the church. He is Glorified through his invisible attributes that are clearly known to men and is glorified through his communicable attributes. God being just, being longsuffering and being a God of grace, bringing our redemption to fulfillment is to bring all creatures to a place of worship and adoration – and worship exists for the Glory of God alone. Therefore, every service, every sermon, every song is not based upon what we want, but on what God wants and deserves – obedience and worship. So The Mill exists, not to be a seeker sensitive movement – making outsiders feel at home and to design our services for the purpose of entertainment but to be church that attracts seekers of God.