2 Chronicles 34 and the Reformation – Part Two
Rev. Pollema continues from part one . . .
This is also what happened again 490 years ago. Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli, and others went back to the Bible after it had been mutilated and all but lost by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The Reformers, too, were confronted by the Law of God. Martin Luther stood terrified before the Law of God, for by the Law comes the knowledge of sin (cf. Rom. 3:20). No matter how much penance Luther performed, his sins and sinfulness continued to plague him.
When sin is known for what it is, i.e., rebellion against the Almighty God, when there is the fear of falling into the hands of an angry God, then the gospel will get a hearing. Then the meaning of the words, “Unto whom shall we go? Thou alone hast the words of eternal life,” (Jn. 6:68) hits home. The Law of God needs to be rediscovered today; it needs to be preached. As the apostle Paul states: “If it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin” (Rom. 7:7). When Josiah heard the Law and trembled before it, he felt its curse as it is clearly taught in Deut. 27:26: “Cursed is he that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.”
The Heidelberg Catechism
The Heidelberg Catechism is a product of the Reformation. It is quite significant that in setting forth the three parts of the Catechism, the first thing that was deemed necessary in order to have comfort in life and in death, was the knowledge of the greatness of one’s sin and misery. The first question to deal with the subject of sin and misery is #3: Whence knowst thou thy miser? The answer: Out of the Law of God.
Today, the church, the nation, and all people must go back to God’s Word, the Bible, as the absolute divine authority for faith and all of life. Today, the churches are few and far between that speak forth on the sinfulness of sin as rebellion against the Almighty God who demands absolute perfection and holiness. Man is no longer made aware of his sin and therefore sees no need for salvation nor does he have any fear of judgment. God, who is holy, righteous, and just, does not change.
Even though man fell into sin and his nature became totally depraved, incapable of any good, and prone to all evil, God continued to require of man absolute and perfect obedience to His Law, for God so made man that he could keep it, but man willfully disobeyed. When Adam disobeyed, he deprived all mankind of the ability to keep the law perfectly. Nonetheless, man remains responsible before God for such obedience and is at fault for his corrupt nature.
When the Israelites of Josiah’s day heard the newly-found Law read to them, they were terrified and prostrated themselves before God, begging for forgiveness. When God spoke through His Word to certain men during the sixteenth-century Reformation, they repented, believed, and lived.
Stay tuned for part three!