The gospel is the triumphant declaration that God, holy and righteous, is redeeming the world through Christ, calling everyone everywhere to repent from sin and trust Jesus Christ for salvation.
2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther, an obscure German monk, nailed 95 Theses, or statements, to the door of the Wittenberg Church. Luther was attempting to open a public discussion on what he saw as abuses within the teaching and practice of the Roman Catholic Church. His desire, at that time, was to reform the Roman Catholic Church from the inside. What he got instead was a firestorm of debate which began a movement that eventually changed the world.
Over the centuries, the movement that began in Wittenberg has spread throughout the world, taking with it a firm commitment to the Scriptures as the Word of God and the true gospel of Jesus Christ often summarised as the Reformation doctrine of “justification by faith alone”.
The Latin phrase, Semper Reformanda, was first used by Jodocus van Lodenstein in 1674. He stated:
“The church is reformed and always [in need of] being reformed according to the Word of God.”
While our theme this year is “Always Reforming”, the term was first used in a passive sense. That means that we don’t reform the church: God does, by His Word. Our desire is for God’s people and His churches here in New Zealand to be continually reformed by the power of His Word.
With all this in mind, we are excited about the opportunity and privilege this year’s Stand for the Gospel Conference provides.
General Sessions: The Five Solas
Sometime in the 20th century, a helpful mnemonic tool was developed to help summarise the key doctrines rediscovered during the Reformation. This has become widely known as The Five Solas.
- Sola Fide, by faith alone.
- Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
- Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
- Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
- Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.
The Five Solas are actually recent in terms of history, yet they helpfully summarise the key truths which ought to be the focus of every church in every age.
Conrad Mbewe from Lusaka, Zambia will be with us again this year (his third time!). He will use his five main sessions to preach to us from God’s Word on The Five Solas mentioned above. This promises to be a rich feast of Christ-centred, doctrinal preaching. We pray the Spirit of God will prepare our hearts for further reformation.
Saturday Seminars: The Road to the Reformation
We’ve introduced a change to our usual format for the Saturday seminars just for this year. This is intended to be a “one-off” as we seek to further utilise this year’s conference to give focus to the monumental, world changing event that was The Protestant Reformation.
We’ve asked Stuart Coulton, Principal of Sydney Missionary Bible College, and Rob Harrod, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, to join us. These men will take both of the normal seminar slots on Saturday (Stuart in Auckland, Rob in Christchurch). They will discuss “The Road to the Reformation”, exploring the circumstances that led to it, and why was it necessary. This will help us to think about the issues facing the church in our day and the continual need for reformation.
Both Stuart and Rob have extensive knowledge and teaching experience on this subject as well as a deep passion for the church. We will be challenged and blessed as we learn together under their leadership.
Come and join us!
We’d love to have you with us! Mark you calendars with the following dates:
- 21-23 July @ Bishopdale Reformed Church, Christchurch, NZ
- 28-30 July @ Howick Baptist Church, Auckland, NZ
Tell your friends (especially other pastors and church leaders you know). Make sure to join us in July in either Christchurch, Auckland, or both!
Blessings in Christ,
The Stand for the Gospel Steering Committee