Speaking today at the opening of a new exhibition by the Orange Order, 'Staunch and True – Celebrating The Reformation,' Rev. Ron Johnstone reminded his audience of the origins of Protestantism and its pivotal message of Justification by Faith Alone:
"Protestantism is not a new, novel from of the Christian religion. Martin Luther and the other Reformers did not introduce a new teaching, but rather rediscovered and re-emphasised the truths of the Gospel as taught by Christ, the Apostles, and the early Church.
At Pentecost, the New Testament church was FORMED, under the Papacy it was DEFORMED, but under Protestantism it is REFORMED.
We do not agree with or condone everything Martin Luther and other Reformers taught or did, but we stand where the Protestant Reformation stood on the vital question of how a sinner can beaccepted before the Holy God. The difference between Evangelical Reformed Protestantism and non-Reformed faiths is not minor. The Reformers came to understand the New Testament Gospel – that a person can only be declared righteous before God not by the Church, or their own works, but by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, which will then result in a life lived to the Glory of God Alone.
Luther came to see that, 'The Just shall by faith' (Romans 1:17).
As a boy, he feared the very Name of Christ. As a monk, he had come to hate God. His thought was that God demands that he must be righteous in order to be in heaven, yet Luther realised that of himself he could never be righteous.
However, through the study of the Scripture he came to see that what God demands He donated freely in Christ. 'Christ is my Righteousness,' concluded Luther as light dawned upon his soul. He called it 'the GREAT EXCHANGE': Christ the Righteous One became sin for me – and He gives the believing sinner His Righteousness."