There are some moments in history that seem to stand out among the rest. We set aside particular days to remember various historical events. Holidays such as Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day are intended to focus our attention on those past events that have shaped our present reality. A day that has become increasingly significant to me as I view the vast scope of world history is October 31st, 1517, a day we now refer to as Reformation Day. Last week I gave a brief historical sketch of Martin Luther and his contribution to this time in history.
As a Christian, I find the time period of the Protestant Reformation to be particularly intriguing. Not because I believe the Reformers came up with new ideas or forged 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 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?” Reformers struggled with questions like these, to which they found no satisfying answers within the traditions of the Roman church.
However, when the Reformers, guided by the Holy Spirit, opened their Bibles, everything began to change. The truth of the Word of God that had been kept from the average person, that had been locked up in Latin and forbidden to be translated into the common tongue, began to burst forth into the hearts and minds of the Reformers and overflow into society as a whole. The impetus, then, for the Protestant Reformation, was not political or economical, but Biblical.
The dark times of Biblical ignorance were coming to an end, as the Reformers diligently taught the Bible, translated the Bible, and made sure the average person understood the Bible. Post Tenebras Lux — after darkness, light! This brief Latin phrase became their battle cry as John Calvin and other Reformers saw the glorious Word of God shine forth, breaking the darkness of the false Gospel and doctrines of Romanism. The chains of religious bondage that held people down, the rule of the papacy that contradicted the authority of Jesus Christ, and the selling of indulgences that cheapened the Gospel of grace were all seen for what they were in the light of God’s holy, inspired Word, the Bible.
We are now separated from the beginnings of the Reformation by over 500 years. However, that does not mean the Reformation is over. In fact, the cause of the Reformers, and the need for the light of God’s Word to go forth, is stronger than ever. We live in a world that is increasingly hostile to truth; a world of spiritual apathy, where religious bondage increases, sin is glorified, and hope is elusive. What is the answer? While many may jump into a political, social, or economical tirade, the answer is that we need “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4) to break out into the dark corners of our world. We need the Bible to be heralded as the banner of truth. We need to pray that God’s grace would extend to the hearts of those who are trapped in religious bondage, cultic systems, and New Age spiritualism. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit would draw to Himself those stuck in addiction and sinful life patterns that they may be convicted of their sin and see their need of the Savior.
No, the Reformation is NOT over. In fact, the Reformation will not end until Christ comes again. Until that day, we must be constantly reforming every aspect of our lives to the revealed Word of God, the Bible. So open your Bible today and hear the Words of your Creator. If you find yourself in darkness, open the words that bring light. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Get a FREE download of my E-booklet on the 5 Solas of the Reformation by visiting www.CrossHopeBible.com/5-solas.
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ