Summary: After 500 years, does the Reformation still matter? After all, a recent poll showed that over half of American Protestants didn’t even know that Martin Luther’s writings and actions inspired the Reformation. And this was a multiple-choice question with
After 500 years, does the Reformation still matter? Do we still need a day every year to remind us of the Reformation? After all, a recent poll showed that over half of American Protestants didn’t even know that Martin Luther’s writings and actions inspired the Reformation. And this was a multiple-choice question with only three choices! So, most Christians today say, “No, the Reformation doesn’t matter.”
If Reformation Day only celebrated Lutheranism, then it shouldn’t matter. If Reformation Day only celebrated the pride we have in being Lutheran, then it shouldn’t matter. But if Reformation Day is about the truth that Martin Luther dusted off in all its shining glory, hidden by centuries of faulty doctrines, then the Reformation does matter.
The Reformation still matters in at least three ways:
1. First, the Reformation matters, because confessing the truth matters.
2. Second, the Reformation matters because hearing the truth matters.
3. Third, the Reformation matters because believing the truth matters.
First, the Reformation still matters, because confessing the truth still matters. The Reformation was about confessing the truth, the truth about your sins, and the truth about God’s work to save you.
Many falsehoods were being taught in Luther’s day. One such teaching was that Christians had to spend time in a place called “Purgatory.” This took place after someone died but before he could get in to heaven. Purgatory was where God purged the sins someone still had after he died. Such a teaching implied that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough.
Here is where it got even crazier. The Pope could shorten someone’s time in purgatory if somebody bought something called an “indulgence.” Luther quipped that if the Pope had the authority to shorten someone’s time in purgatory, then why wouldn’t he do that for free?
What was most offensive about some practices of the Roman Catholic Church was that a person contributed to his salvation. Those practices implied that Jesus’ perfect life, suffering, and dying was not enough to pay for all of our sins.
Jesus said to his disciples, “If you remain in my Word, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). By nature, we are slaves of sin, death, and the power of the devil. We can’t do anything to set ourselves eternally free. That’s why Jesus took on human flesh. That’s why Jesus was born, lived, and died as He did--all because we couldn’t save ourselves.
That’s why there was a Reformation. That’s why we still have Reformation Day. That’s why the Reformation still matters. It matters because confessing the truth still matters!
Today, people are still spreading lies, lies that take away from the work of Jesus Christ. You will hear lies like, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere,” or “All roads lead to heaven.” Perhaps, you’ve heard, “If you’re a good person, you’ll get to heaven.” Perhaps, you’ve heard, “Muslims and Christians pray to the same God.”
Confessing the truth still matters, because only truth can expose lies. Only truth can remove the spiritual darkness of lies. Only truth can set one free from the curse of sin, the fear of death, and the power of the devil. Indeed, confessing truth still matters.
If someone doesn’t know the truth, he won’t know freedom, peace, hope, joy, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. Yes, the Reformation still matters because confessing the truth as Jesus did, as Paul did, as Martin Luther did, still matters. Unless the truth still rings out today, the devil’s lies will continue to hold everyone captive.
Second, the Reformation still matters because hearing the truth still matters. When you go to your doctor, you expect to hear the truth about your health. When you are willing to hear the truth, then you will be ready to accept what the doctor says. I may not like to hear that I have high-blood pressure and that my cholesterol is too high. I may not like to hear that I have poor eyesight, and I need to wear glasses, but hearing the truth matters.
Even if I don’t like it, hearing the truth matters. It could mean the difference between life and death. To improve my life, to save my life, I need to hear the truth about my physical health.
Hearing the truth matters even more when it comes to my spiritual health. That’s why Jesus warns His Church to “beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15). That’s why the Apostle Paul told the Church to “beware of those who cause dissensions and create obstacles contrary to [Apostolic] doctrine” (Romans 16:17).
I don’t like it when Scripture says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I don’t like being called a sinner. I’d rather hear how marvelous I am. I don’t like hearing that I deserve hell for my sins, but hearing the truth matters.