Someone has well said that God's people have nothing to fear for the future except as they forget how God has led them in their past history. This was true in the case of ancient Israel. God wrought marvelously for their deliverance from Egypt. But they erred because "they remembered not. . . . they soon forgat" (Ps. 106:7, 13, 21). We too need to remember what has happened and what has been given to us. The revival of the evangelical faith in the sixteenth century, and with it the birth of Protestantism, was a mighty deliverance for the church of God. We need to keep it in memory.
In this issue of Present Truth Magazine we have reproduced material from two great documents of the Reformation era — the Lutheran Formula of Concord and Calvin's Institutes. The subject matter is the righteousness which is by faith — the very heart of Reformation theology.
A number of our readers will be well acquainted with both articles. In such cases we trust that this issue of our magazine will serve as a convenient documentation of these great Reformation statements. But we also know that a vast number of people, even among preachers, are very poorly — if at all — versed in this literature. Far too many are taking it for granted that they know what the Reformation stood for, when in reality they are abysmally ignorant of the vital issues.
Persons accustomed to a diet of theological fairy floss1 may break a couple of sets of dentures on this strong meat, but they will be well rewarded. Those who have written these great documents have done so only after taking pains to attain theological accuracy. The reader also needs to be reminded that "there are no gains without pains." And he may be surprised to see how some popular ideas among evangelical Christians of today are soundly refuted by our spiritual forefathers. (For example, the idea that faith is the basis of acceptance with God is soundly rejected by the Reformers.)
We do not subscribe, however, to the notion that theology has to be heavy to be good. So we have included a couple of lighter articles. The story of Ben Trying illustrates the true doctrine of righteousness by faith. We hope that our readers will enjoy it as much as we did. Perhaps ministers may see their own style of preaching reflected in this story.
1 Australian expression for cotton candy.