Summer is ending and Fall is right around the corner. You can almost feel the cool breeze and taste the pumpkin-infused treats. This time of year has become a favorite for my family. We enjoy all of the seasonal events and are looking forward to visiting the pumpkin patch. However, this time of year holds another type of significance for me and other Christians. These next few weeks are moving toward an important and historic day in the history of the church, the day is October 31st. No, I’m not talking about Halloween. I’m talking about Reformation Day; the day in when the Augustinian Monk, Martin Luther, nailed his 95 Thesis to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany kicking off the Protestant Reformation.
In fact, this year marks the 500th anniversary of that momentous occasion and therefore is an opportunity for us to reflect upon the truths that were fought for during those tumultuous times of the 16th century.
“Why?” you may ask. “What was such a big deal about some religious bickering so long ago and why should I care?” I’m glad you asked. For starters, the Protestant Reformation became the impetus for not only religious reform but for political, economic, and social reform. Many scholars today see the Reformation as the signaling of the modern era. The outcomes of the Reformation are wide and varying. For example, the Reformation brought about higher literacy rates among the common people. Education in general became more desired and available to men and women. Economically, Protestant cities grew more with greater amounts of entrepreneurship. And politically, the Reformation was a key factor in the development of the state system. However, these are not the reasons I believe we should remember and celebrate Reformation Day.
The Reformation’s strength is not in its forging new territory, making progressive leaps into the unknown. Rather, the strength of the Reformation was in pointing people back, not to a time or system, but to Jesus Christ. The Reformers desire was not to start a new church or some type of religious insurrection, but to see the church and her leaders move back to the Bible, back to what God has said not what men and their traditions have said. As we take a closer look at some of the issues that the Reformers were dealing with, we will see that they were not simply matters of church politics but were issues that touched to the very heart of the Gospel. “How can a sinful person be made right with a holy God?” As we will see, it was questions like this that Luther and others struggled with. It was questions like this that Luther found no satisfying answer to within the traditions of the church. Only when Luther opened his Bible and the Holy Spirit open his eyes did Martin Luther come to understand a concept so powerful that it shook him to his core. What did he learn of? One word: grace.
Join me as we use these weeks leading up to Reformation Day to remember and celebrate the amazing truths of God. Truths that were not created by the Reformers but that they came to understand from God’s written word. So grab yourself a pumpkin spiced latte, open your Bible, and read the Words of truth that have changed so many and that continue to do so today. The Reformation is not over, we continue to reform and conform our lives to the Word of God. So here’s to 500 years and counting.
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ