Down through the ages, God has worked is some amazing ways in the life of His people. In Scripture we read about things like the Exodus; the many victories in battle; the establishment of Israel’s Kingdom in Saul, David, etc.; the return of His people following exile; the outpouring of His Spirit at Pentecost. Of course the greatest of all was the sending of His Son, His life, sacrificial death and glorious resurrection.
Since those days, we have continued to see times in which God works in mighty ways for His people, all throughout church history. Even in this nation, we’ve seen Great Awakenings and widespread revival.
Yet, in the post-Biblical history of the Church, one of the grandest works of God was in some ways ignited by the simple act of a blog post. Okay, so it wasn’t actually a blog post, but it was the 16th century equivalent. One little monk put together a collection of thoughts and ideas about the current state of the Church, and in particular, the sale of indulgences; which he saw as a violation of Scripture. For those who don’t know, it was simply the practice of allowing people to purchase freedom for dead relatives out of Purgatory (a place whose very existence is a corruption of Scripture.
So, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther took his collection of arguments against this practice, now known at the 95 Theses, and he tacked them on the doors of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. The church doors were the world wide web of the day. Any announcements, advertisements, etc. were posted here. In God’s providence, the printing press was just coming into prominence, and someone took that one blog post and reposted it and it went viral. Of course I’m using modern images here, but you get the idea.
It’s not that Luther was the first to see the problems arising in the Church. For years and years, men like John Wickliffe and John Hus taught against some of the corrupt doctrines that had arisen in the church. But again, through the working of God’s Providence, the timing was right when Luther’s Theses hit the door. A Reformation had been ignited.
Luther and those like him battled of the sufficiency and supremacy of Scripture. It wasn’t just about the traditions of the Church, the Word of God had to take precedence. The Reformation was built on the five pillars of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), Sola Gratia (Grace alone), Sola Fide (Faith alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (God’s glory alone).
Afterward, men like John Calvin and Philip Melancton and Ulric Zwingli and John Knox and many others would take those Reformation sparks and fan them into giant flames. The result, of course, can never be overstated. The Church has never been the same. And down through the years, God has continued to raise up men to carry on the war cry: Semper Reformanda; Always Reforming. The Puritans are seen by many as the inheritors of the Reformers, and so it does down through the years to those who continue to hold God’s Word as the supreme authority, with salvation taught as being justification by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, only for the glory of God.
And so you see, friends, this date marks not the time for Satanic delight as some celebrate it. Instead, it is the celebration of God’s great work in the life of His people, His church. So Happy Reformation Day. May God continue to shower His blessings on and through His Church.
NOTE: For more reading on Reformation thought and theology, check on this collection of articles at Monergism.com And furthermore, if you're interested, here is my daughter's shorter and snarkier take on the whole Reformation Day thing.