While many people are thinking about carved pumpkin, costumes, and consuming candy, my mind on the other hand is consumed with the theological and historical significance of today. Five hundred years ago today was the greatest movement of God in church history next to the birth of the church at Pentecost. This movement revolved around a question that still is asked today: How does an unrighteous sinner stand before the throne of a righteous God?
“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)
“If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.” (1546 Council of Trent, Canon 9)
A plain reading of scripture and this declaration clearly shows that there is a contradiction. Either the scriptures are right, or the Roman Catholic Church is right. Are the scriptures the final rule and authority, or the church?
The Protestant reformation was necessary because the true gospel of salvation is necessary. And the reformation is still necessary today. The unchanging gospel, which was obscured over many years of the tradition of men, shined into a world of darkness like the dawn of the day. The heart of the gospel, which was once for all delivered to the saints, was rediscovered.
The only way that you can be made right before God is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone according to scripture alone and for the glory of God alone. Your works and merit add nothing to your justification. When God saves a sinner, it is the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone that is counted on the sinners behalf. And all of their sin is counted paid in full by the cross.
To believe that anything other than the finished work of Jesus Christ alone and His righteousness is necessary for salvation is to believe a different gospel that does not save, but rather condemns.
And almost four years ago, that was me.
It wasn’t until I began to read the bible when my eyes were opened to this good news. As Martin Luther once said, “the very gates of paradise opened up before me”. When I was saved, I did not know or understand much of what I have written to this point. And I didn’t need to.
But, I did understand one thing. I knew is that I was a sinner in need of forgiveness, and that Jesus Christ was the only way. There isn’t anything I could to do make up for my sin against God. I did not have to obtain my own standing before Him, and I could not. Jesus already accomplished that salvation on the cross when He said, “It is finished.”
The protestant reformation is worth celebrating because the gospel is worth celebrating. But, how would the reformers want us to celebrate this good news today? The same way that Jesus did: preach the gospel.
It is my prayer that God would do this great work again. May God fan into flame the pulpits across this world, and bring about an even greater reformation as the church is continually reformed according to the word of God alone.
Soli deo gloria.