502 years ago, a monk named Martin Luther dug up a timeless truth and in a terrifying era boldly declared it to the world. Luther’s purpose was not to initiate a mass rebellion and protest against the established church of his day, but the Sovereign Lord had a different plan. Luther’s 95 theses became the official “spark” of the Protestant Reformation. But how would we summarize what happened through this monk named Luther and this Reformation movement? In short, the Reformation recovered the truth of the gospel for the common, every day person. But what was this gospel that was salvaged by Luther and shared with the masses?
The gospel of the Reformation was (and continues to be) the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ. The heartbeat of the Reformation was the good news that by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, a person is forgiven by God and forever declared right before God. Our acceptance with God does not come by performing any special works or paying any special price. It comes through faith in the finished work of Christ and the final price that he paid for our sins on the cross.
When Luther discovered this gospel, there was no turning back. Everything changed for him. Everything he knew before was but dust: penance, purgatory, the authoritative nature of the Pope, etc. With the sufficiency of Christ, all of that could go! Were Luther’s convictions costly? Yes! Did they bring suffering? Absolutely. Did his message of grace offend people? Undoubtedly. But we should not be surprised. We are told that, “The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but for those who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). And so, as we reflect upon the convictions of Luther and the blessing that he was to the Church, let us be sound and well versed in the Scriptures. And let us, with one voice and full conviction, proclaim and defend the truth of the gospel in our day. And if asked to renounce the truth, may we say with Luther,
“I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.” ~Martin Luther