History cannot be documented simply as chronological events, but the intrusion of God into time to establish His redemptive purposes in and through men. Two epochs in this Spirit’s work point to the greatest revolutions ever documented: the entrance of the Lord of Glory in the fullness of time in the little town of Bethlehem, and the era of the Reformation breaking out of a reign of eclipsing doctrinal darkness and superstition. Christ brought forth the Gospel of God, and the Reformers rescued the Gospel from drowning in a sea of ecclesiastical expedience. Since the Gospel writers, carried along by the Spirit inspired as they were, have given an accurate account of the life of Christ and the early church, in today’s modern age, we ought always to desire to remember our roots, and the reformation.
God does not intrude into time to arrange events, but to begin revolutions that cover over the face of the earth. Revolution is what the Reformation was all about. Can you, listener, say the same about your church? Is your church revolutionary? Would the Reformers think of your church as one partaking in their revolution, or would your pastor and the people that attend to hear him, say that they exist to meet the needs of the emerging culture that the church today exists in?
Though God has His providential hand in the affairs of Alexander the Great as well as the apostle Paul, the greater question that should concern the Christian surrounds the remedy of the fallen soul. To truly document history is to set one’s historical eye upon the Gospel of Christ and its affect on the world.
The Reformation would bring back justification by faith alone, where the popes has set up a capitalistic endeavor to make faith something to be bought, and achieved by works. The indulgence rapidly affected the superstitious that had already been familiar to a submission of their will under the Vicar of Christ on earth. The clergy had become the conduits by which the grace of God, or the favor of the popes, was to be dispensed. The works of bygones saints, even the supererogatory merits of Jesus Christ, could be bought for a price in order to secure the salvation of the buyer, or aid in the release of those already captive to the purging of sin in purgatory. Financial advantage to the Roman Church did not go unnoticed, and purgatory became one of the chief doctrines to validate indulgences in the thirteenth century, and to furnish the livelihood of the Pope.
The Reformation brought man face to face with God rather than having popery “interpose the Church between God and man.” Popery separates men from God and hides the Gospel from them, where the Reformation, through the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and justification by faith alone, will unite men to God. Does your church bring men face to face with the Jesus Christ of the Bible and of the Reformation, or does your pastor meet the needs of the people in his sermons. Does your church hold steadfastly to the doctrines taught by the Reformation, or just those that your church and pastor deem convenient? And what about you, listener? Are you a closet reformist? Or are you a revolutionary?
I can hear you now. You’ve seen the Luther movie. You’d shake your fist and stand your ground amidst opposition. You’d say the same things and borrow the same lines Luther did, right? Would the people in your church, at your work, in your family, amidst your friends say the same things about you? Would they say you are a revolutionary in the same light as the reformation?
Ok, I know, you are no Luther or Calvin. That’s not your place, right? That’s for your pastor to emulate. You are just a simple hard working Christian. You are just trying to get through the day at work, and get through a simple devotion time with your family. You don’t have the time to be a revolutionary.
The Reformation had made its way from the minds of a few men zealous for the truth, to the practical application of the doctrines they represented in the life of the Church. People lived out, upon pain of death, their Christianity. I know, I know, listener, your persecution doesn’t extend that far. We aren’t speaking about when you get a flat tire and feel God is against you today, or when your pool pump breaks. We are talking about, however, the reality behind a true Christianity. You, listener, may not have to worry so much, because, as you already made clear, you are not a revolutionary. You loved to watch the Luther Movie each year, it gets you stoked, but far be it for you to challenge your church on whether or not it really falls in line with the reformation, and with the Gospel they preached.
Here is the difference between your “reformation” ideas and “The Protestant Reformation”: you enjoy the emotional high that a movie brings with ideas that you might hold dear. Would you lose your job for your beliefs? Would your pastor be willing to be thrown out of his church for teaching the Regulative Principle? Would it be OK if your family was divided as a result of the truth of Scripture as long as Christ was being glorified in the truth? If you really embrace the Reformation as a revolutionary, how could these things not happen? True Biblical Reformation, on the other hand, advanced the truth of academic learning and filtered that down into the hand of the laity, regardless of the outcome. It may be that you need not only remember the Reformation in some touching recollection of a scene Hollywood has drummed up with Luther standing at the Diet of Worms, but rather go back and read of the life and deaths of those men and women that held steadfast to being revolutionaries of their time.
In truly remembering the Reformation historically, one has no choice but to practically apply it as a revolutionary today. Is the Reformation just a picture in a book, or a scene from a movie? Or is it real to you, embraced by you, propagated through you and lived out?
Remember the Reformation differently this year. Make it count all year through.