Title: 5 Reasons Why The Reformation Matters Today
Artwork by: YMI X Dorothy Norberg (Writer)
Description: For many people, Martin Luther and the history of the Reformation exists in this single snapshot: a monk hammering the Ninety-five Theses to a church door. But there is so much more to the Reformation movement, which began on October 31, 1517.
The Protestant Reformation took place when Protestants—so-named for their protest against Catholic teachings—split from the Catholic Church. Luther’s involvement in this movement was shaped by his personal testimony of receiving God’s grace and overcoming doubts about his salvation. God used Luther to help restore a biblical understanding of salvation.
Here are five foundational reasons why his testimony, beliefs, and stand against the theology and practices of his day still matter today.
Read more here.
1. It reminds us to know the gospel for ourselves
As a professor and preacher, Luther encouraged people to focus on Christ and study the Scriptures. Things came to a head on 31 October, 1517: in his Ninety-five Theses, Luther protested the practice of selling indulgences and argued that the church did not have the authority to save souls.
Luther teaches us that the true gospel frees souls from spiritual bondage, and also frees people from dependence upon the gatekeepers of tradition. We should not depend upon pastors, speakers, or writers to make Christian teaching available to us. It is important to read the Bible for ourselves, know its truth, and be prepared to defend it against false teaching.
2. It reminds us that we are saved by grace alone
As a monk, Luther spent countless hours in the confessional, trying to remember and recount all his sins. He also tried to attain holiness through pilgrimages, long hours of fasting, and prayer. He later said of this time, “I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made of him the jailer and hangman of my poor soul.”
What transformed Luther’s life—and ours—is the knowledge that we are saved through grace alone. In Luther’s study of the Scriptures, he was struck by the language of righteousness in books such as Romans and Galatians, and came to understand that we are saved not because we do righteous acts in union with God, but through faith in the perfect righteousness of Christ.
3. It reminds us that following Christ always has a price
Luther was summoned by church authorities and told to recant under threat of excommunication. Luther chose not to do this, knowing that the authority of Scripture was of greater value than his reputation or comfort. Luther once said, “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”
Even in our ordinary lives, following Christ requires sacrifice. Let’s cherish this reminder that when we lay down our preferences at the altar and pick up our cross to follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24), our ultimate security lies in Him.
4. It reminds us that the gospel is for everyone
Because the Germans did not have accessible Bible translation in their language, they depended upon the Catholic Church for religious education and training. The church taught that only priests could rightly read and interpret Scripture, but Luther argued that every person can receive faith and understanding from God. He spent many of his later years crafting a Bible translation of the New Testament in the German vernacular, making the transformative, authoritative text of Scripture available to ordinary people.
In churches today, let’s not give special favor to the well-educated, wealthy, and beautiful, as if these markers of worldly success indicate spiritual strength. The Holy Spirit resides in every believer, and through Him, we have access to God.
5. It reminds us to depend on Scripture
Throughout different generations, challenges to Scriptural authority vary, but the correct response remains the same. Christians must depend upon God’s revelation in Scripture as truer than any church leader’s vision or political system’s creed. They must also reject the temptation to prize other means of spiritual discovery as more important than the Bible.
In today’s culture, it is easy for believers to feel like we must find fresh, glamorous ways to attract people to Jesus. But these approaches discard the tool that best convicts of sin, reveals God’s glory, and teaches the gospel. As the Reformation and the rest of Christian history shows, the Bible is our irreplaceable source of truth, with the power to change both individual hearts and the world.