Reformation Day will be here soon. On October 31, it will be the 501st anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg church. Reformation Day seems kind of boring. After all, it was just a guy writing an essay on theology. So why is Reformation Day so awesome?
Reformation Day and the 95 Theses
Reformation Day is not even really about the birth of the Lutheran Church. Martin Luther was still firmly ensconced in the Roman Catholic Church in 1517. If you read his 95 Theses, his theology is still Roman Catholic, including such Roman Catholic beliefs as purgatory and the pope’s authority. However, you do find radical thoughts for that time and inklings of the developed theology of the Cross to come. A few examples:
32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.
62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
86. Again, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?’’
A Christian First
Martin Luther wanted to be and stay Roman Catholic, but above all, he wanted to be a Christ-follower, a Christian. He did this at much cost and threat to his life. He wrote in his preface to the book of Romans,
Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.
This was what he was trying to bring to the world of poor believers who thought they had to buy their way into heaven—Christ, their Savior and trust in Him and only in Him. So really, Reformation Day is about a man’s sure belief in the goodness and rightness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was so sure that he faced down the pope and the full power of the Roman Catholic church.
Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:9
This is why Reformation Day is so significant to the Lutheran Church. Not because the Lutheran Church was born, but because through this man, Martin Luther, the world remembered the Gospel again. Through Martin Luther’s belief in the Gospel and the grace given him by God, the Augsburg Confession was written in 1530 and formed the foundation of the Lutheran Church, of which the pure Gospel is the cornerstone.
The Blessings of Reformation Day
Because of Reformation Day, we don’t have fear, we have Christ. We don’t buy indulgences. Instead, we give freely to support the Gospel proclaimed by Gloria Dei. We don’t worry about whether we will go to heaven or purgatory. Just look at the face of Christ, trust in Him for His mercy, and know that He always gives it. Because of Reformation Day, we know that He bring us to Himself when we die. There is no fear in that. Because of the fruits of Reformation Day:
- Pastor Horn preaches the Gospel to us every week in his sermons.
- We hear the Word of God through the readings, and it gives us faith and forgiveness.
- We receive faith and forgiveness, the Body and Blood of Christ, through the Sacrament of the Altar every week.
- Pastor Horn forgives our sins “in the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ” every week in worship and anytime we request in private.
- We are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection and can remember that certainty every day of our lives.
No one at Gloria Dei is perfect, but because of Reformation Day, we know we are forgiven. Sometimes it looks like what we do is small and mundane. It’s hard to remember what it might be like to stake our lives on the Gospel, like Martin Luther did. But what we do at Gloria Dei is of eternal significance, for us and others to come. Every way you support the proclamation of the Gospel at Gloria Dei, you are giving Jesus to poor, lost souls who need Him desperately. Every time we come to church, we are staking our lives on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we are boldly proclaiming,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. Romans 1:16
By proclaiming Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins, Gloria Dei has the power of God behind her, and God does not fail to give faith, forgiveness, and mercy. So on Reformation Day, let’s stand up and joyfully sing, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”:
Our victory has been won; the Kingdom ours remaineth.