October 31, 1517 … the day that sparked the Protestant Reformation, the day the Gospel of grace once again broke forth from the chains of darkness, the day that opened the door for Christians to return to God’s Word as the authority for faith and life, the day that pointed the church back to the glorious doctrine of justification through faith alone in Christ alone, the day that brought about not only theological and church transformation but also cultural transformation. Yes, it’s a day that should be remembered and celebrated by believers all over the world.
Luther was greatly troubled and upset about the mass corruption in the church during his time. The selling of indulgences for past, present, and future sins seemed to him absurd. Could it be true that one could buy his way into heaven? Is there any thing man can do to merit eternal life? These concerns consumed Luther and he wrote out his 95 theses and presented them on the door of the Wittenburg church to spark debate. Luther was bold, a man of faith, willing to risk it all for what he believed. A few years later when asked to recant of his radical views against the established church, Luther didn’t budge, he didn’t give in, he didn’t compromise, he refused to put the tradition of the church or the authority of men above the authority of God’s Word.
As much as we adore Luther and appreciate what he sparked by his actions, the real celebrity and focal point of the Reformation is God’s Word. I sense that Luther himself might literally cuss us out if he discovered we spent more time praising him that reading and studying the Scripture. So you want to celebrate Reformation Day? … good … I hope you do. But here’s the best way to celebrate - amid all the costumes and reflection on the actions of Martin Luther just simply grab your Bible, sit down for a while, and prayerfully read a portion of it. It is God’s Word, living and active, totally true and sufficient for us in every way, authoritative over every aspect of our lives, and the very beautiful means of liberating grace for us. In Luther’s own words as #62 of the 95 theses, “The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.”