Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. | Hebrews 12:1-2
Today is the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg and sparking the Reformation. The Reformation was a truly Holy Spirit led movement, calling the church out of its spiritual slumber to confront people with the pure truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, summarized in the 5 SOLAS:
To celebrate 5 centuries of 5 solas, it is necessary to see God’s hand driving all aspects of reforming. One of the things that this historical event does for us is challenges us to view the world we live in as one that is infused with life, not left alone to its own means. God has not left His world to ‘figure it out’ but is active and reforming! Let me give you 5 applications of this for your celebration.
Be thankful that God does not let our foolishness go on forever.
There are times when the brokenness and corruption seems great, but we can have faith that God will act to repair it. While His timing is different than ours, His presence removes despair as an option for us.
Be amazed that God works through the efforts of human beings.
While it is good to celebrate those who worked (and died) to reform the church, we must be careful not to venerate them (and they have some flaws that help in this). What we see in the Reformation is GOD WORKING through people.
Be motivated by the examples of the reformers.
The same God is active through us. We can be pushed by the this cloud of witnesses to run the race set before us; to be faithful to Jesus.
Be encouraged to read the Bible and study theology.
This relationship we have with Jesus is not only spiritual in nature. He has given us His Word. One of the major efforts in the Reformation was to translate the Bible to get it into the hands of people. It is much harder to take this for granted when you see how many lost their lives to make this happen.
Be careful not to fall for the same errors that defined the Pre-Reformation church.
The church at the time of the Reformation was much different than the church looks today, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t prone to the same mistakes: believing that it is works that earn salvation, separating life into spiritual/secular, and downplaying the importance of the Bible in favor of the appearance of holiness. All of these are alive and well in the church today, and we would be doing a disservice if we didn’t keep reforming. Reformation isn’t just something that happened a long time again, it is the continual life of the Christian. As the first of the 95 theses states:
When Jesus said “repent” he meant that believers should live a whole life repenting.
May we use this as an opportunity to do just that. And for fun, play a little Pin the Beard of the Reformer.