Rediscovering the Laity: The Reformation in the Pew and in the Classroom -- By: Joel R. Beeke

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 03:1 (Jan 2011)
Article: Rediscovering the Laity: The Reformation in the Pew and in the Classroom
Author: Joel R. Beeke

Rediscovering the Laity: The Reformation
in the Pew and in the Classroom1

Joel R. Beeke

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-4:5

The Reformation revived the role of the laity. Prior to the Reformation, church members were reduced to an audience watching a priest do a mass and listening to choirs of monks sing in Latin. But the Reformation revived the priesthood of the laity as commanded in the Scriptures. Peasants learned from the gospel to draw near to the holy God through faith in Christ’s blood and intercession. Soldiers and printers participated in worship by singing the Scriptures back to God. Bakers, carpenters, and milkmaids took up their work as sacred ministries through which they served God according to His Word. None of this undermined the pastoral ministry but exalted it as spreading the Word to equip the saints.

The Reformers dreamed of Word- and Spirit-filled men, women, and children of all social and educational levels. William Tyndale devoted himself to translating the Scriptures into the vernacular of the English people. Tyndale once told a priest, “If God spare my life, ere many years pass, I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost.” His dream came true as his translation paved the way for every parish church in England to offer an English Bible to all of its members. Tyndale paid for that Bible with his life.2

I praise God that the Holy Spirit is stirring a renewed interest in the Reformation today. This, then, is the topic before us now: “Rediscovering the Laity: The Reformation in the Pew and in the Classroom.” The question we must answer is: How may we bring the Reformation to people in the pews today?

Our rule for reformation, as well as for all matters of faith and obedience, is the Holy Scriptures. In 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul warns his young friend, Timothy, of present and future perils that besiege the church. False teachers are already spreading errors like a deadly disease among believers (2 Tim. 2:16 –18; 3:6 –9; 4:3). The church is swimming in a rising tide of wickedness (3:1– 4). And people are embracing external religion without true spirituality, “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (3:5). Such people have no appetite for sound doctrine but seek teachers who will scratch them where they itch (4:3 – 4). How should Christian leaders respond to ...

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