The Purpose of the Reformation

October 31, 1517, Martin Luther would nail his famed “Ninety-Five Theses” on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral, forever changing the course of the Church. Luther initially posted the theses to invite other members of academia to have a discourse concerning the problems of the Catholic Church at the time. Instead, people took notice of his theses written in Latin, translated it to the vernacular, and published it so that others could read it.

It created a huge controversy; the officials of the Roman Catholic Church were not happy. Martin Luther would eventually be declared a heretic and an enemy of the Church after beginning to believe and teach in the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

The controversies surrounding Martin Luther were the following beliefs:

  1. Scripture alone must be the basis for our beliefs.
  2. It is by having faith in the promises of Jesus Christ alone that we can be saved.
  3. Faith is not a product of the human will, but rather by God’s grace alone.
  4. We have redemption in Christ’s works and promises alone.
  5. We are saved not for our own glory or gain, but according to the glory of God alone.

These five points would later on become what is known as the “five solas.”

  1. Sola Scriptura
  2. Sola Fide
  3. Sola Gratia
  4. Solus Christus
  5. Soli Deo Gloria.

All of these things were what separated the Reformers, not just Luther, from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther was not trying to start a revolution, but a Reformation, a turning-back to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, the ones that were even taught by earlier Catholic saints such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and John Huss. The Catholic Church lost its way and lost what was at stake, what was understood to be the most important thing up until that era: the Gospel.

The Reformation was not about having some kind of anti-pope rage, starting a revolution, or creating an excuse for theological bickering. It was about the Gospel. It was about returning to the Gospel and to call for a love of Scripture and sound doctrine!

I am saddened when people think this is Luther Day, Anti-Catholicism Day, or Calvinism Day. It’s none of those things; it’s Reformation Day, the day where we commemorate the importance of the Gospel, the value of believing in the promises of God and honoring the riches of the word of God. This is the day where we recognize who God is and humble ourselves before Him. This is a day where we ought to be grateful that God called someone like Luther, though a mere human, to preach the word and call for people to take heed of a lost message.

Most of all, remember this: the reason why we still celebrate Reformation Day and why there are many of us who are Reformed… is because the Reformation has not ended. It is still going on! Reformation Day is not just about looking to the past, but also to the future. The Reformers had an amazing motto: “Semper Reformanda.” (Meaning: “Always Reforming.”)

Dear ones, we are not finished. Pelagianism is still rampant in the Church, abortion is still an issue in society, the Kingdom of God is still being built, Catholics still haven’t repented, the Scriptures are not being preached enough in most local churches in America, the Gospel is starting to become forgotten, false converts are plenty in many congregations, et cetera, et cetera. We need a Reformation every single day.

We have this hope: the fact that we still celebrate means that God has willed for us to continue fighting against the dark forces of the enemy and to defeat Him by the power of God’s word, through the promises of Jesus. As we continue to reform and to spread the Gospel, know this: the Lord is on our side, and as Martin Luther penned in his great hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, “Lord Sabaoth, His name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.”

Happy Reformation Day! Semper Reformanda! And as always…

Soli Deo Gloria.


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