In 1517, Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Wittenberg chapel 95 theses questioning numerous doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church, leading to the expansion of the Protestant Reformation. Next year Protestants and Catholics alike will commemorate at numerous events five hundred years since that action was taken by Luther. Meanwhile, the religious world is moving further and further away from the principles on which the Reformation was based:
– Sola scriptura (by Scripture alone)
– Sola fide (by faith alone)
– Sola gratia (by grace alone)
– Solus Christus (through Christ alone)
– Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone)
Pope Francis met with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, in Cairo, Egypt, on May 23, 2016. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said that the pope and the Islamic cleric had “mainly addressed the common challenges faced by the authorities and faithful of the major religions of the world.” The pope con- tinues to work very strongly to unite all religions under the Catholic Church.
In fact, “the 500th anniversary of the Christian Reformation in 2017 is to be profoundly ecumenical, with Pope Francis even taking part in a celebra- tory service with Lutherans in Sweden in October of this year….
“In recent years … Roman Catholics and Lutherans have reached agreement on the doctrine of justification, a key dividing issue between the papacy and Luther and his followers, and many doctrinal differences should no longer have a church-dividing character,” acording to the chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany. –ecumenicalnews.com, May 18, 2016.
During this Week of Prayer, the experiences, beliefs, and dedication of seven prominent Reformers from the Sixteenth Century will be presented. The purpose of this is to focus on the principles that showed their devotion to God for the saving of lost souls. This is very essential, for the events just prior to Jesus’ second coming will require the upholding of Biblical truth more than at any other time in history, and we can learn a lot from these Reformers.
“In our day few of the professed followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 232.
“The Reformation did not, as many suppose, end with Luther. It is to be continued to the close of this world’s history. Luther had a great work to do in reflecting to others the light which God had permitted to shine upon him; yet he did not receive all the light which was to be given to the world. From that time to this, new light has been contin- ually shining upon the Scriptures, and new truths have been constantly un- folding….
“The message of the third angel will be proclaimed…. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power–all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 148, 149, 606, 607.
“Choose poverty, reproach, separation from friends, or any suffering rather than to defile the soul with sin. Death before dishonor or the transgression of God’s law should be the motto of every Christian. As a people pro- fessing to be reformers, treasuring the most solemn, purifying truths of God’s word, we must elevate the standard far higher than it is at the present time.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 147.
This Week of Prayer is a unique opportunity to come together and pray for the Holy Spirit to plant divine truth deep within our hearts so the indwelling of Jesus will shine out when our testimony is called for. “The faithful discharge of today’s duties is the best preparation for tomorrow’s trials.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 481.
All church leaders and officers are urged to make these Readings for the Week of Prayer available to the members, especially those who are not always able to meet with a group, and to take time to pray with them. The Readings are also available on various Internet websites for download and printing, such as www.sda1844.org and www.sda1888.org (English, Spanish, and French), www.asd1844.org (Spanish), www.reform-adventisten.net (German), and others.
Sabbath, December 10, the final day of the Week of Prayer, is a day of fasting and prayer; all are encouraged to take part in the meetings as the believers all over the world unite to plead with God to prepare each one to be a faithful servant. The annual Week of Prayer offerings will be gathered for the General Conference; this fund is used for a broad spectrum of missionary outreach. Please give generously.
“ ‘The thoughts of the coming of the Lord,’ said Baxter, ‘are most sweet and joyful to me.’ ‘It is the work of faith and the character of His saints to love His appearing and to look for that blessed hope.’ ‘If death be the last enemy to be destroyed at the resurrection, we may learn how earnestly believers should long and pray for the second coming of Christ, when this full and final conquest shall be made.’ ‘This is the day that all believers should long, and hope, and wait for, as being the accomplishment of all the work of their redemption, and all the desires and endeavors of their souls.’ ‘Hasten, O Lord, this blessed day!’ Such was the hope of the apostolic church, of the ‘church in the wilder- ness,’ and of the reformers.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 303, 304.
–The brothers and sisters of the General Conference