As Nicholas Selnecker, the sixteenthcentury German hymn-writer, once put it: Against proud spirits stand and fight, Who lift themselves in lofty might, And always bring in something new To falsify thy teaching true.The ‘old, old story’ needs to be retold and reapplied, but its glorious content does not change and cannot be bettered.In fact, the full, unabbreviated version of the Latin slogan is “Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda est secundum Verbum Dei” (“The church Reformed and always reforming ”) God’s Word is the only true standard we have a divine mandate to conform to, and it is the ultimate standard by which we will be judged. To radicalism, the motto reminds us that reformation is not innovation – the gospel never changes.Success or failure in ministry therefore cannot be evaluated by numerical statistics, financial figures, popularity polls, public opinion, or any of the other factors the world typically associates with “success.” The only real triumph in ministry is to hear Christ say, “Well done.” One of the signs of spiritual life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was the proliferation of reformed confessions. To conservative, it reminds us that reformation is not reassertion – the gospel needs to be continually reapplied, and our historic assumptions need to be continually reformed.Being Reformed means being radical in precisely that sense, for it means not that we’re always becoming something new, nor that we’re always changing, but that we’re always being conformed and reconformed to the from adapting to this world; the goal is not to let this world squeeze us into its mold, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.It means accepting that we don’t set the agenda, but rather that we’re called to surrender to agenda, and thus recognizing that we’re people under authority—the authority of God, and thus of his revelation to us in his Word—and that we must bow to that authority even when we don’t like what we hear, rather than trying to find ways to rationalize what we want to do instead.
What is important to remember is that every situation is unique.
One of the reasons that Roman Catholicism has remained so impervious to liberalism over the centuries is because of its hostility to cultural and theological change.
Yet evangelical churches are willing to run the risks, because of our mandate to connect the never-changing gospel with our ever-changing world.
But as soon as our innovations begin to undermine the foundations of the reformed faith, which is biblical Christianity, the church will come crashing down.
These wonderful gospel truths, encapsulated by the , need to be clearly and enthusiastically proclaimed without hesitation in every generation. Horton, of Westminster Seminary in California, observed in his recent fourth and final volume on reformed dogmatics: ‘singing a new song’ and ‘always being reformed’ are only commendable goals if they are invitations to courageous and obedient faith rather than simply following the spirit of the age.