“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”—Romans 3:28
This Sunday is Reformation Sunday — 500 years after the Protestant Reformation began in Wittenburg, Germany when a priest named Martin Luther nailed 95 “protests” to the church door there. Welcome to the Reformation!
There are too many effects of the Reformation for me to recount here, so here are two that we might celebrate together:
1) Justification by Faith ALONE. I recently listened to a podcast where a reporter went to a convention for pastors and asked, “Are Christians justified in God’s sight through faith or moral living or both?” I was astonished at how many answered, “Both.” No, no, no, no!
Calvin wrote, “How shall we answer the heavenly Judge when he calls us to account? Let us contemplate that Judge, not as our own unaided intellect conceives of him, but as he is portrayed to us in Scripture (see especially the Book of Job), with a brightness which obscures the stars, a strength which melts the mountains, an anger which shakes the earth, a wisdom which takes the wise in their own craftiness, a purity before which all things become impure, a righteousness to which not even angels are equal, a vengeance which once kindled burns to the lowest hell.” Can we be justified in this, God’s sight through trying hard or through anything we might do on our own? No, and living a life trying to justify ourselves only leads to arrogance, depression, self righteousness, empty religious practices, and constant failure. But Christ freed us from all of that, the reformers proclaimed with joy! You can do NOTHING to make God love you any less or any more! WE love because God first loved us. Sola Fide (Faith Alone) rings out to this day as a battle cry against human arrogance and for Christ our Savior!
2) The Priesthood of ALL Believers. The Reformers have always rejected adhering to the proclamations of one church teacher. This means that you cannot trust the Pope or even your pastor unconditionally to tell you what is in the Bible. We rebels like this in our current American Culture!
But here’s something this also means that we don’t always like: You cannot trust only yourself to know what is in the Bible, either! It’s hard to live life in the whole church, in all times and places. It demands accountability, social engagement, and compromise. These are three things we Americans don’t like very much! It is only through the Priesthood of ALL Believers that we receive knowledge and growth in our God whom we love so much.
So, take a moment today to give God thanks for what was begun through Martin Luther 500 years ago. Raise a glass and let us never give up reforming our lives to the perfect truth of the Gospel!
Who’s with me?
Peace to you,