500 Years Later

As I think about the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church there are a few things that come to mind. First, that the Bible alone is our highest authority. Second, that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ and by the grace of God alone.

Growing up in the Philippines in a BBFI missionary family, I got to see first-hand the preaching of the Gospel to people immersed in religion and ritual. I observed the biblical truths that are often associated with the Reformation at work in people’s lives.

In those days, few people had Bibles. One challenge my parents encountered was the mindset the Bible was only to be read by priests, not ordinary people. It was amazing to watch someone who had never read the Bible begin to read it themselves. We witnessed the power of Scripture to bring light and understanding to many people.

When my wife’s father, Bob Hughes, realized that people did not have Bibles, he launched an ambitious project to print one million Bibles. His ministry was known as, “What does the Bible say?” The passion for the Word of God led to a vibrant and enduring church planting movement in the Philippines.

Religious rituals and good works were the accepted path to salvation. I will never forget watching three people literally nailed to a cross in what appeared to be a heroic act of penance and good works. Our message was clearly focused on the freeness of salvation because of the finished work of Christ and the grace of God. The simple truth of Ephesians 2:8-9 brought freedom and salvation to all who would receive it.

As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is celebrated, the world will revisit these important biblical truths. I am grateful to be a part of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International where these truths have been the foundation of our message since the beginning.

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