Gabe Hughes: Semper Reformanda


November 3, 2017

Gabe Hughes Gabe Hughes, pastor of Junction City First Southern Baptist Church, author, and creator of WWUTT returns for his third episode of Echo Zoe Radio. With the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, there's a lot of discussion about both church history and the need for both historical and continued Reformation. One term often used in this regard is Semper Reformanda, or Always Reforming. We talk about what this term should and shouldn't mean, and where the Church has continued need of Reformation.

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An Outline of the Discussion
  • Gabe says he is not familiar enough with the history of the term Semper Reformanda to be comfortable using it, and after reading the article I sent him by R. Scott Clark, is even more uncomfortable with the term.
  • The term, in its longer form, is often rendered ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda, or the church reformed, always reforming.
  • We shouldn't be of the mind that true Reformation is not possible; that we can't get back to the Church as established by the Apostles.
  • “Always Reforming” should be looked at from the perspective that there are congregations that need to return to the Gospel.
  • We persevere through sanctification knowing that we will never be perfected in this life, but do so because of the Lord that bought us.
  • We enter the 501st year of Reformation recognizing that Reformation is still needed to get the Church back to where Christ intended it to be.
  • Preaching through 1 Corinthians was, providentially, a good book to be in during the 500th year of the Reformation. What Paul was doing in Corinth was bringing Reformation. The church in Corinth was tolerating sin so egregious, the pagans were appalled.
  • Despite the appalling behavior, Paul extended grace to the Corinthians, and still counted them as among the brethren.
  • The situation in Corinth resembles California in our own day. They are similarly cosmopolitan and the pagan cultures of both deal/dealt with similar sins. I (Andy) always think ‘1 Californians' when I hear 1 Corinthians.
  • It wasn't just the epistles to the Corinthians, but also the epistle to the Galatians that dealt with Reformation. Paul was calling them back to the Apostolic foundation laid in the Gospel.
  • The Church at Ephesus (Revelation 2) “Left its first love.” Sardis and Laodicea (Revelation 3) both left sound doctrine.
  • The common, contemporary interpretation of Revelation 3:16 is anachronistic. Jesus does not wish the church at Laodicea to either be outright rejecting of him (cold) or passionate (hot), He's saying that the two cities with cold & hot springs are faithful, but the one in the middle is theologically poor. They're far from ‘the source.'
  • The modern methods of American Evangelical Churches resembles the Trojan Rabbit from Monte Python movies (as described by an article by Jared Wilson that appears to have disappeared.) They constructed the rabbit, and got it into the city gates, but forgot to get into it first.
  • Pre-Reformers, and some of the Reformers, gave their lives to get the Gospel to the people. Gabe gave the example of William Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English. Jan Hus experienced a similar fate after trying to translate the Bible into Czech.
  • We share a story about the Lollards, in England, who memorized the Bible in English so they could recite it to each other at clandestine church services. It was a recounting of the story as shared by James White recently on a Dividing Line webcast.
  • Semper Reformanda, and the continued need for Reformation can also refer to the reasons the Protestant Church diverged from Rome, and the continued need for recognition that we cannot go back.
  • The men who came before us, even by 500 years, contribute to our own sanctification, and are brethren we will be together with in Glory. We learn from their successes and mistakes.
  • Reformation is still needed in our time in that the American Evangelical Church still has its “Golden Calves,” such as the “sinner's prayer” and the altar call.
  • Church is very important. We can't have a “Me and my Bible” mentality to our faith, forsaking the assembly together.
  • The most important thing we do in our Christian walk is to attend church. It is what worship most looks like, and is what we will be engaged in for eternity in Glory.
Scriptures* Referenced
  • Ephesians 2:19-20
  • Philippians 3:12
  • Matthew 5:48
  • 1 Peter 1:16
  • 1 John 1:9
  • 1 Corinthians 14
  • Revelation 3:19
  • Revelation 2:4
  • Isaiah 66:2
  • Hebrews 11:39-40
  • 1 John 5:13
  • Matthew 16:18
  • Ephesians 2:18-22
  • Ephesians 4:11-16
  • 1 Peter 2:4-8
  • 2 Timothy 2:
  • 1 John 2:19
Additional Resources
  • Always Abusing Semper Reformanda — R. Scott Clark
  • “Strange Fire” – Message by Sinclair Ferguson at Ligonier 2003
  • “I Will Be Your God” – Message by Douglas Wilson at Ligonier 2003
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