500 years since the Reformation
Published on: 02 Oct 2017
What was it and why does it matter?
On the 31st October 1517 a German Monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses (statements for debate) to a church door in Wittenburg, Germany. What followed brought about a re-forming of the church, or we might say a re-turning to what the church once was and taught.
At the heart of the Reformation were two questions: ‘Who has the final authority?’ and, ‘How are we made right with God?’ These questions are as relevant and vital to us today as they were 500 years ago.
Luther wrestled to find peace with God. He became a Monk and in his monastery, began to read the Bible (an activity then deemed only suitable for priests etc). His reading convinced him that the Bible, being the word of God, instructed mankind directly. This was revolutionary because the Pope was said to be the highest authority. This power was abused to help fund the building of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome through the Pope’s authorisation of the selling of indulgencies. By payment of a sum, one could purchase a ‘get out of purgatory card’!
His new understanding of the Bible and its authority then led Luther to his joyful discovery that peace with God was not something that anyone could earn but only something that God could give. No human being could, on God’s behalf, grant forgiveness of sin to another. No human being could merit God’s forgiveness – no matter what penance they performed or what they bought from the church. God gave.
Luther was declared a heretic and ordered by the Pope to recant. He refused. The Emperor then declared him an outlaw and tried to stop the distribution and reading of his writings. Luther was rescued and taken into hiding where he worked on translating the Bible from Latin to German for all to read for themselves. This spread through the then new technology of the printing press.
God has given his word to mankind that we might truly know him and how we ought to respond to him. So, we give thanks for those like Luther who have translated and upheld the Bible’s teaching throughout the centuries. And, God has given his Son as the way we can have peace with him now and forever. Jesus’ death and resurrection achieved our means of forgiveness and belonging to God. We receive Christ and forgiveness by the grace of God and through faith alone. We read, we believe, we receive. It really is good news!
If you would like a copy of the Bible or to know more about peace with God through Jesus Christ, please get in touch and we will be delighted to help you.