Today, October 31st, 2017, marks the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation!
I still can’t believe that it’s been 500 years, half a millennium, since Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. All around the world, Christians in many nations are celebrating one of the greatest events to ever occur in all of history. Though it is only Halloween for some, and believe me I love my candy, I think it is a mistake to overlook this tremendous occasion on this day, especially this year. Few events in history can come close to Luther’s nailing of his document. It led to a doctrinal Reformation and a recovery of a Gospel that was hidden the dark.
Despite common understanding, Martin Luther was not a ‘rebel rouser’ for the Gospel by vandalizing the church door. People also think that Martin Luther’s intentions were to initiate a protest against the Roman Catholics. The truth was that Luther was a mild-mannered person (though strong with words, and quite the savage sometimes), and he only wanted to debate the importance of indulgences. In fact, However, what the 95 Theses did was draw the common people’s attention to the corruption of the Catholic Church.
Luther would over the years come to realize that the issues with the Church were not only what he wrote in the 95 Theses. He began to realize that salvation was not justified by works as the Catholics taught, but by faith. He also began to see that salvation was freely given to men by God through His own divine grace, not through indulgences or the mediations of the priest. He despised the worship of Mary, the Eucharist, and other teachings of the religion that he knew to be heresy.
Luther would write about these things and voice his concerns that the Roman Catholics had systematically covered up the truth of the Gospel in order to control people, indulge in wealth, and get away with terrible sins against God and men. Finally, this created such a controversy that in 1521, Martin Luther was brought before a court called the Diet of Worms. There he was asked if he would recant all he taught. There he said that he would not unless he would be convinced by Scripture. Then he finished by saying, “Here I stand; I can do no other. May God help me, Amen.”
Did Luther start the Reformation? I don’t think so. There were people like John Wycliffe and John Hus before Luther, who not only wanted to translate the Bible into the vernacular language, but also teach the doctrines found in Scripture that the Catholic Church covered up. However, it was after Luther that the Catholics waged a mass war against all who disagreed with them and persecuted every single Protestant they could get their hands on. There was even a part of Martin Luther, after seeing all the violence and death, that wondered if it was worth it.
However, for every martyr that was killed by the Catholic Church, more people would become Protestants. For every Reformer ridiculed, many theologians and pastors would speak up. No matter how hard the devil tried to stop the revival that began long ago, he couldn’t. God’s truth prevailed. That is why I am grateful for the Reformation. It is not only because I am an admirer of church history, because I am quite a fan of Martin Luther, or even because I am a Reformed Baptist. It is because God’s Word prevailed and because God would not let the Gospel be forgotten. Matthew 24:35 (GNV) says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away.”
The motto of the Reformation was Post Tenebras, Lux (after darkness, light). It certainly was a time when God’s light would shine forth out of the Dark Ages. It was certainly a time when meek men like Luther, Clavin, Beza, Knox, and many others would go on to do great things. From the nailing of the 95 Theses to the publication of the Geneva Bible, God was glorified in the Reformation. His Gospel was not forgotten.
For all this, I honor the brave, courageous, and humble men who stood up, with Scripture in hand, to declare the truth of God. I pray that all people will see the blessing in the Reformation, and I pray that all Christians would rise and stand for truth, for the Gospel, and for the glory of God.
(At 2:00 pm, our writer Jon Wooldridge will write on his take on the Reformation as well. Likewise, at 9:00 pm our writer Ashton Clark will do the same.)
Semper Reformanda! Happy 500th Anniversary of the Reformation!
Soli Deo Gloria.