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.”