Much has been written about the Protestant Reformation, especially as we approach the 500th anniversary of the catalyst of that movement: Martin Luther’s posting of his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany on October 31, 1517. It began the eventual split between the Reformers and the Roman Catholic Church. It was the beginning of a Gospel resurgence, but it was also the continuation of Jesus’ promise that not even the gates of hell would prevail against his church.
It’s a worthy pursuit to pause and thank God for this movement because, more than anything, it was a movement of God. The notable names like Luther and Calvin were significant proponents for Christ-centered change whose bold acts and articulate writings continue to echo after half of a millennium. But these men were human like anyone else. They were sinners with skeletons in their closets that the Lord sovereignly used in spite of themselves, as he is prone to do (Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, Peter, et al).
Circumstances in the church had reached a crisis point (not for the first time or the last), and the Lord used that crisis to bring a renewed focus on the explicit teachings of Scripture: that man is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone. Through the great trials that the Reformation sparked, these truths took root in a fresh way in the hearts of God’s people, and we feel the effects every day. Every time we read Scripture in our own language, sing together as a congregation, or pray directly to God himself with only Christ as our mediator, we are experiencing the ripples of the Reformation.
Praise God that he sees fit to correct us in our misdirection that we might continually be brought back to a clear vision of his sovereign grace and perfect love. Praise God that moments of crisis and suffering are not without hope. May he always be reforming the hearts of his people. May he continue to use broken vessels for his purpose. May we ever seek to live for his glory alone.
For more information about the people involved in the Reformation, check out this helpful series of short podcasts from Desiring God. For information about the foundational truths of the Reformation, check out our sermon series on the 5 Solas of the Reformation.
Also, this is a great hymn by Bob Kauflin based on the 5 Solas: