Why Celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation?

Martin LutherMartin Luther launched the great Reformation when he nailed “The Ninety-Five Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral on October 31, 1517. Since then, many protestant churches commemorate this day on the Sunday closest to Reformation Day (October 31) each year. This year we celebrate Reformation Day on Sunday, October 29th.

Why should you and your church celebrate the Reformation? At the core, we owe an immense debt of gratitude to the Reformers for their courageous efforts in recovering the biblical gospel: That God accepts us sinners not because of any work or supposed merit of our own, but because of His own mercy, on the basis of Christ’s finished work in which by grace we put our trust.

Robert Capon shares in a graphic metaphor exactly what happened during the time of the Reformation: “The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof grace—of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly” (Between Noon & Three: Romance, Law & the Outrage of Grace).

Thus, on Reformation Sunday we remember the essence of all that we believe. You can summarize it in three words: Christ saves sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Christ saves sinners from beginning to end all by His grace alone. If that’s true, then our lives should be distinctly marked by three character traits: Gratitude, humility and joy. Which of these marks of a Christian do you need to grow in the most?

As Reformation Day approaches, ask yourself if your faith at its core is more of a grace-filled journey or a moral code? Is it a love affair with your Savior rather than merely a religious exercise and a philosophy of love? Is your Christianity characterized by receiving a gift with open hands or is it keeping rules with clenched fists? As your relationship with Christ is characterized more as a grace-filled journey, a love affair and receiving a gift with open hands, you will grow in gratitude, humility, and joy.

Let us pray that our church would continue trumpeting God’s grace and that the Lord would unleash His Gospel with its transforming power so that He might revive us again so that we rejoice in Him (Psalm 85:6) and so that times of refreshing would come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:20). Don’t let this Reformation Day pass without praying this for yourself, your family, your church family and community!

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