What is Reformation Day? (and Why It Matters)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
The Protestant Reformation was an important part of the Christian heritage that brought needed change to the church. What is the Protestant Reformation, why does it matter, and what are we celebrating on "Reformation Day"? Learn more about Reformation Day and why it matters today!

What is Reformation Day and Why Does It Matter?

What Is Reformation Day?

Did you know that Halloween isn't the only holiday that falls on October 31st? On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of his local church, detailing his rebuttal of the works-based salvation, indulgences (the idea that people could pay the priests for forgiveness), and the false belief that only the church leaders had the ability to interpret the bible- not the everyday people.

Reformation Day has never been something I've thought about, honestly. I mean, I knew it was a good thing for Christians that the Reformation happened, but I never thought to celebrate the anniversary or really pay attention to it. But the more I've learned about the Protestant Reformation and what we are celebrating on Reformation Day, the more I have come to appreciate the significance of it.

Through the Protestant Reformation, lies were exposed, salvation by grace alone through faith alone was lifted high again, and Christians began to understand that they could read the Bible for themselves. Those are gifts to us who believe, friends.

What is Reformation Day and Why Does it Matter?

Why the Reformation Matters

God Uses Nobodys

Martin Luther was just some random monk. That's all. A monk who beat himself up over his sin constantly. A monk who thought he needed to physically hurt himself and constantly do penance in order to earn God's forgiveness for his sins. And God chose to use him to bring about the entire history of the Protestant church. He used him so that we could see that we could read the bible for ourselves, that we could come to God in prayer and ask forgiveness of our sins without the help of a priest or a confessional. God used Martin Luther to remind us that salvation is by grace alone, not of ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God used a nobody to bring about something huge. That's not the first time he's done it that way, and it's not the last.
We have a great privilege and calling to serve God with our lives, and he often uses "the little people" to do big things.

God Calls Us to Himself

The fact that we are allowed to come to God on our own- that we can talk to him, read his words, learn about him, and be led by him- is a deep truth that the Reformation displays. Before that, many people weren't living as if that were true at all. They were paying paying the Church money because they were told that was the way to escape purgatory. They confessed their sins to a priest in the place of going to God.  They also believed that the only right way to do church was to listen to scripture readings that were solely in Latin, which meant that they had no idea what was going on, and they just had to trust whatever the priest told them was true about the Bible.

But the truth of the matter is that God calls us to himself. We don't have to go through all those other means. It was never necessary, and thanks to the Reformation, we can now live that out.

We Should Not Reject What the Reformation Allowed

One thing I've been thinking about for the past few days, is how much we take our Bibles for granted. I mean, I already knew that, and I have heard plenty of sermons on the matter. But when I think about what the Reformers went through just so we could have the opportunity to sit in our PJs while we read whatever passage of scripture we feel like- that's when I realize how ridiculous it is that I don't take the time to read God's word each day.

Sure, there are probably better reasons to be convicted about not taking the time to dive into God's word- like, ya know, the whole Jesus dying on the cross thing- but the reformation provides just another reason to take advantage of the freedom we have to know God through his word.

Friends, we have a great privileged to know God more, and there's no reason not to actively live in that gift. God used the Reformation to free many from the lie that we can't come to him on our own. He reminded us that our sins are forgiven through Christ alone, by faith, not by works, and not because we sought out a priest for help. God also used the Reformation to remind us that we can read scripture for ourselves, in our own language, so that we can get to know God without having to have someone reading to us from the Latin version.

Our protestant heritage shouldn't be taken for granted. Our salvation shouldn't be treated as mundane, and the accessibility of scripture should be deeply appreciated. As one of the speakers from the weekend said,

"If your sermon, message, or ministry is lacking a focus on the scriptures, then it is lacking God himself!"
Let us not take our faith or the sacrifices of those before us for granted, and let us live with thankfulness for the freedom we have.

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