Inspired by, and based upon, Dr. Martin Luther’s historic 95 Theses published 31 October 1517, which launched the Protestant Reformation. We offer these 95 Theses for Reformation Today to stimulate prayerful reflection, study of God’s Word, discussion in the Church and positive action for Reformation Today
- Our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, commanded us to: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”(Matthew 4:17). The whole life of a believer must be one of repentance.
- This cannot be interpreted as a token gesture of commitment, nor a technical salvation that is all theory and no experience.
- Biblical repentance involves conviction: a change of mind; contrition: a change of heart; and conversion: a change of life. It is not enough to confess our sin, we also need to reject sin, to loathe it and to forsake it. Repentance involves a change of mind, a change of heart, a change of habits and a change of behaviour.
- “Now, therefore, says the Lord, turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness…” Joel 2:12-13
- This was the message of the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
- This was the message of the early Church: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19
- The heart of the Gospel is a changed life in Christ.
- God is a Holy God and His righteous standards are seen in His Law. Man is sinful and we need to repent from our wickedness and trust in Christ.
- This repentance and faith is to be evident in obedience to Christ, and a willingness to sacrifice and to suffer persecution for Christ. To those who turn to Him in repentance and faith, God promises great blessings, rewards and eternal life.
- Before He returned to Heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ commanded His followers: “But repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name to all nations…” Luke 24:47
- Salvation is by the grace of God alone, received by faith alone, on the basis of Christ’s blood atonement on the Cross of Calvary alone.
- Biblical Salvation always involves a change of behaviour. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7
- Those who teach that as long as you believe you are saved, regardless of how you behave, are false teachers. The Scripture makes clear that just as repentance without faith is not true repentance, so faith without repentance is not true faith. For repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. Belief always affects behaviour.
- “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead. But someone will say, you have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works… for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”James 2:17-26
- The Scripture warns us not to harden our hearts (Psalm 95:8). Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble (Proverbs 28:14).
- “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionerswill inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified by the Name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
- The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). The Lord promises to hear and heal the responsive and humble heart (2 Kings 22:19).
- “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart, and a new spirit. For why should you die…?” Ezekiel 18:31
- Those who claim that we can accept Jesus as Saviour, without submitting to Him as Lord, are false teachers. It would not have been sufficient for Moses to have proclaimed to the Hebrews, who were slaves in Egypt, that they should accept that in Yahweh they had perfect freedom, whilst leaving them in bondage and under the yoke of slavery in Egypt.
- Nothing less than deliverance from Egypt, freedom from the bondage of slavery, would have been adequate. God’s eternal purposes required the people of Israel to survive the Passover, leave Egypt, cross through the Red Sea and be established as a free people in the Promised Land.
- Sin is serious. Yet we are far too tolerant of sin. “God now commands all men everywhere to repent.” Acts 17:30
- Sin is more defiling than dirt, more dangerous than an unexploded bomb, more life threatening than a deadly disease, more insidious than a virus. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6
- “The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Psalm 19:7. The first duty of the Gospel preacher is to declare God’s Law and show the nature of sin. Failure to use the Law is almost certain to result in false hope, the introduction of a false standard of Christian experience, and to fill the church with false converts. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
- They will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and holy Law. The Law of the Lord is the schoolmaster that leads us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24). Salvation is by the grace of God alone, received by faith alone.
- Scripture alone is our ultimate authority. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Christ alone is the Head of the Church. Christ is the only Mediator between God and man. Truth conquers. Not all the darkness can put out the smallest light.
- We are to deny self, not indulge self. For many people experience is key. But for Christians, Scripture must be our ultimate authority. Emotions are a poor substitute for Scripture.
- The Scripture warns us: “Learn to not exceed what is written.” 1 Corinthians 4:6-14.We must be aware of movements and teachers who go beyond the Scriptures and presumptuously proclaim that which is not clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures.
- Christians must be aware of those churches that try to look and sound much like the world. In many churches the Great Commission is virtually ignored as social issues, health and wealth, flashy entertainment and an emphasis on selfish and materialistic concerns become the primary focus. Many modern Word of Faith teachers display a lack of the fear of God and proclaim a different gospel and a different Jesus from that revealed in Holy Scripture.
- Many popular preachers today are telling people what they want to hear, instead of what they should hear. The Word of Faith ‘Name it and Claim it’, ‘Gab it and Grab it’, Health and Wealth Prosperity preachers may be popular, but they are false teachers. They are effectively inoculating people against true Christianity. We need to be like the Bereans, who were more noble than the others, in that they searched the Scriptures daily, to see if the things that the apostles said were true (Acts 17:11).
- A mature Christian is a discerning Christian. We cannot love God without knowing Him. We cannot know God without studying His Word, the Bible. Christians should test themselves to see whether they be in the Faith. Has there been a genuine change in your life? Have you evidenced Godly sorrow for your sins? Do you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Do you love to study God’s Word? Do you love to pray? Do you hate sin?
- We are commanded to contend for the Faith, once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Our Lord Jesus Christ is our example and He exposed false prophets, scribes and pharisees, hypocrisy and false teaching.
- The goodness of man is an unBiblical concept. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I test the mind, even to giving every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9-10
- 34.Signs and wonders do not actually save anyone. In John’s Gospel, we read: “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His Name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25. Our Lord Jesus said that an evil and idolatrous generation seeks for a sign (Luke 11:29).
- Only the Gospel can change lives. Conversion for health and wealth is a false conversion. Those who teach that believers should tap into cosmic forces and laws of attraction, are unBiblical. What they are offering more resembles magic than Biblical faith. Much of what is being taught in the modern Word of Faith movement is not the Biblical Faith in a Sovereign God, but faith in faith. It is actually idolatrous.
- The Scripture warns us: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
- Believers need to be very selective concerning what entertainment and news media is allowed to fill our minds on a daily basis.
- The Scriptures describe secular humanist thinking: “Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:21. It is extremely dangerous that most Christians send their children to secular humanist schools to receive their education.
- “Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind…” Romans 1:28. Ideas have consequences. What we see influences what we think, and what we think influences what we become and what we do. Actions flow from thought patterns.
- “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven.” Matthew 7:21. It is not so much what we say, but what we do that counts. Actions speak much more eloquently than words.
- The emphasis on feelings and blessings to the exclusion of commitment, obedience, and discipleship, is a sure way to failure and disappointment (Matthew 7:15-23).
- There is no short cut method, no 4-point programme, no cut and dried, canned salvation. There is no alternative to full surrender to the Lordship of Christ (Colossians 2:6-7), and wholeheartedly seeking (Jeremiah 29:13), and following God’s way (1 Peter 2:21). You have to forsake the world (1 John 2:15-17), and you must give up living for selfish reasons and motivations (Matthew 16:24). Repent of your past sinful way of life (Isaiah 55:7) and put all your energies, time, strength, talents, money and abilities under God’s control. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind and live wholeheartedly for Him (Romans 12:1-2)
- The way of Salvation in the Bible is described as a search (Jeremiah 29:13), a journey (Matthew 7:13-14), a war (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), and a marathon race (1 Timothy 6:12). Christians are described as pilgrims, disciples, soldiers, long-distance runners. The Bible is full of words describing fighting, overcoming, advancing, conquering, struggling, suffering and succeeding. These Biblical descriptions speak of progress, advancement, and movement. They speak of a continuous ongoing experience and way of life. Not a once-for-all gesture, or technical theory, or mere theological understanding.
- The heart of the Gospel is a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ, where communication and contact is established and maintained with God. Where character is developed and God’s eternal purposes are accomplished in, and through, your life.
- Ignorant and wicked are those who teach that the Law of God no longer applies to us today. Those preachers are in error who declare that one can receive Christ as Saviour without submitting to Him as Lord.
- Christ alone is the Head of the Church. No pope, bishop, archbishop, cardinal, synod or moderator has power to overrule the decrees of Almighty God clearly spelled out in Holy Scripture.
- Men must be on their guard against those who require excessive payments for spiritual services.
- They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that Repentance is not necessary for those who seek to be right with God. The truly repentant earnestly desires to undertake full restitution, to repair, replace and restore what he has taken, or damaged.
- They are enemies of Christ who require the Word of God to be silent on some issues in order that policies they support continue unimpeded.
- 50.Injury is done to the Word of God when a balance is not maintained in our preaching. Between the Law of God and the love of God, the wrath of God and the mercy of God, the doctrine of Eternal Judgement and the Gospel of Redemption, the blessings of Heaven and the realities of hell. The true treasure of the Church is the most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
- He who speaks against the truth of Holy Scripture, let him be anathema and accursed (Galatians 1:6-10)! But he who guards against the lusts and licence of the world, let him be blessed!
- Those who teach that we are little gods are guilty of blasphemy. Those who teach that the Cross of Christ was not enough to effect our Eternal Salvation teach heresy.
- Away then with those false prophets who say to the people of God, ‘peace, peace’, and there is no peace! (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
- Blessed be those who lift up the Cross of Christ and give a clear message of Repentance.
- Christians are to be exhorted, that we be diligent in following our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, through sacrifices and sufferings, seeking first the Kingdom of God.
- We can be confident of entering into the Kingdom of Heaven through many tribulations, rather than through delusions of comfort and complacency.
- If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God’s Word, except precisely that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, then I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefront besides is mere flight and disgrace – if he flinches at that point.
- Compromise and cowardice hurts everyone concerned. Cowardice is destructive and short sighted. In Revelation 21:8, cowardice is at the top of the list of those who will be condemned by God through all eternity – thrown into the lake of fire.
- The Word of God commands us not to be afraid of any man (Deuteronomy 1:17). We are warned that the fear of man will prove to be a snare (Proverbs 29:25).
- It is cowardice for us to stay seated when we should stand up. To remain silent when we should speak up. To remain passive and inactive when we should fight for what is right. “Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of a son of man, who will be made like grass? You forget the Lord your maker, who stretched out the Heavens and laid the foundations of the earth…” Isaiah 51:12-13
- The prevailing Arminian, antinomian, egalitarian, sinner-friendly, self-centred, superficial, sensational, materialistic, cheap grace and easy believism has produced gutless and spineless evangellyfish who stand for nothing. “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:5-6
- We are not called to be popular, but faithful. The Great Commission is not about how to win friends and influence people, but how to make disciples of all nations, teaching obedience to all things that the Lord has commanded.
- We are called to submit to God, to resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7)
- They can kill the body – but they cannot kill the soul.
- It is a disgrace for ministers of the Gospel to remain silent while the very foundation of our faith and freedoms – civilisation itself – is under attack. A campaign to have what God describes as an abomination called “marriage” should rouse every Christian to stand up and fight for the family and the faith. The basic building block of society, the family itself, is in the frontline of the world war of worldviews. As the influence of education, entertainment and the news media is so pervasive, it is in these realms that the battle for the family is being either lost, or won.
- The Bible tells us that God seeks “Godly offspring…” Malachi 2:15. It is the first priority of parents and teachers to ensure that children are taught to love God and His Word. Secular humanist education is attempting to kill God by eradicating Him from the classroom and from the minds of the next generation. By eliminating the Bible as the basis for all knowledge, humanists are removing the very foundation of truth. They are prohibiting the only objective standard by which reality can be evaluated. “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:8
- I am much afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them on the hearts of the youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.
- In this culture war, it is vital that we understand the war between Creation and the theory of Evolution. Science textbooks and Museums are strategic battlegrounds in the world war of worldviews.
- We need to know the Word of God and we need to know the God of the Word. We need to know God and to make Him known.
- It is vital that we know what we believe, why we believe it, and to practically know how to defend it in argument. It is also vital that we become effective soul winners.
- Christians must recognise that we are involved in a world war of worldviews. There is a war against God and against His Word – The Bible. In this battle for the mind, classrooms and cinemas are battlefields. Education is a battleground. The textbooks and the teachers are frequently promoting evolutionism, situation ethics, sex education and values clarification. Reality is being rearranged by selective focus and in what Karl Marx declared “the first battlefield – the rewriting of history.” By twisting perceptions, secular humanists hope to steal our children and hijack our culture and country. Much of the entertainment industry has been so subverted as to glamourise evil, popularise profanity, and celebrate ugliness. It is the duty of Christians to support excellent Christian media.
- In entertainment, it is vital that we know before we go, that we learn to discern. We must choose the best family-friendly films, and avoid the anti-Christian programmes.
- The theory of Evolution is an attempt to abort God retroactively. The theory and philosophy of Evolution destroys all meaning, purpose, direction, justice and hope in life. The Scriptures declare:“The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God’. They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14:1
- We are called to be the light of the world. All the darkness cannot put out the smallest light. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”Habakkuk 2:14
- The recent phenomenon of age-segregated Sunday morning worship should be re-evaluated in the light of Scripture. The youth are not the Church of tomorrow, they are part of the Church today. The Church is one body. “For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that body being many are one body; as also is Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12
- Parents should be raising up their children in the fear of God, in fellowship with all believers. Church social events should involve families. Youth ministry should be returned to where it belongs – to families and fathers. It is a sad fact that many youth groups are doing more harm than good. “Those who walk with the wise become wiser still, but the companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20
- Young people have a far greater capacity for spiritual and social maturity than we tend to give them credit for. Young people should be encouraged to go deeper, further and higher for the Lord.
- Many mainline denominations have been infiltrated by secular humanists, who have gutted the churches of the Biblical Gospel and produced generations of spineless evangellyfish. Many churches are filled with pseudo-saved, semi-saved, half-saved, un-saved, pew-warmers who have never been truly converted, nor have they come into any real relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
- To distract and neutralise the Christian Church, false doctrines and heresies have been vigorously promoted. Passivism has been promoted and a “rapture fever” obsession with end-times prophesies has greatly distracted many Christians.
- Antinomianism has gutted the Church of the Law of the Lord which is perfect, which converts the soul. Defeatism and escapism have neutralised many churches.
- Worldly music, age-segregated services, youth groups which entertain rather than educate, have further undermined the churches’ fulfilment of the Great Commission in our generation.
- Discernment is at a low ebb in the average Western church. Sensationalism, materialism and idolatrous elevating of human beings have side-tracked many believers from fulfilling the Great Commission.
- Many Christians have failed to notice that secular humanists have hijacked the schools and universities and are continuing to send their children to, what are effectively, anti-Christian brain washing institutions.
- Theological seminaries have generally been infiltrated by liberal theologians and those who hold to theistic evolution. The undermining of Biblical Christianity in many denominations is like a cancer working throughout the body.
- “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you.” 2 Chronicles 19:2
- We need to face the moral challenges of our day, including the symptoms of moral depravity: deception in the news media, degenerate entertainment, dishonesty in business and decadence in government.
- Even more importantly we must recognise the root causes: ineffective churches, insipid preaching, irresponsible leaders, a rejection of God’s Law as the foundation for our families, churches and nation, neglect of the Bible, prayerlessness, selfishness, confusion, compromise, cowardice and, at the very core, a lack of wholehearted love for God.
- All too many churches are entertaining their members instead of educating them with expository preaching from God’s Word. They are comforting their members instead of challenging them in confronting sin. “Righteousness and Justice are the foundation of Your Throne; love and faithfulness go before You.” Psalm 89:14
- Life begins at conception. Abortion is murder. The sanctity of life is an essential aspect of the Christian Faith. Christians must “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”Proverbs 31:8 and “Rescue those being led away to death.” Proverbs 24:10
- Throughout the Bible, money is spoken of by weight. God’s Law forbids theft, unjust weights and measures, inflation, usury, unbacked currencies and multiple indebtedness. Biblical Law requires honest money backed up by real constant value (Leviticus 16:35-36; Proverbs 11:1; 20:10; 20:23; Amos 8:5-7; Micah 6:11-12).
- In the Bible sin is specific and personal. It is the violation of the Law of God. We are guilty when we disobey one of God’s Commandments. Sin is failing to worship God alone; it is making, or worshipping an idol; taking God’s Name in vain; desecrating the Sabbath; dishonouring our parents; taking innocent life; committing adultery; stealing; bearing false witness and being covetous. However, guilt manipulation, false, or psychological, guilt, is vague and general.
- When we repent of our personal guilt in violating God’s Commands, the result is forgiveness, freedom, healing and restoration. However, when repenting for false, or psychological, guilt we will never find freedom and forgiveness – because the devil is a hard taskmaster. We must know the Bible to recognise deception in the world and we must understand history in order to expose those who attempt to manipulate God’s people through guilt manipulation.
- “Where there is no vision, a people perish…” Proverbs 29:18. We need a positive and practical vision from the Word of God for our personal lives, for our Churches, for our nations and for the world.
- We must give our highest priority to loving, worshipping, serving, obeying, and honouring God. We need a Biblical vision of righteousness, justice, love and compassion. “The Lord loves righteousness and justice…” Psalm 33:5
- “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
Dr. Peter Hammond
The Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
The Reformation Society encourages further study and discussion on the Reformation doctrines and actions needed for Reformation today. Please visit our Facebook page: Reformation500 to post your comments and suggestions.
Churches, ministries and individuals who wholeheartedly support these 95 Theses for Reformation Today are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org to register their endorsement, or to write to: The Reformation Society P. O. Box 74 Newlands 7725 Cape Town South Africa.
This initiative is part of Coalition on Revivals’ 5 year Plan to Reform our Churches, culminating in the Reformation 500 event at Wittenberg, 31 October 2017, to mark the 500th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church.