Reformation 500

October 31st isn’t just the day little kids dress up in costumes and knock on strangers doors demanding candy. It is a date far more historically meaningful than any ghost, goblin or Disney character. It is also the date that marks the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. That glorious event that reclaimed many of the biblical truths you may take for granted today and reshaped the world in sweeping and dramatic ways. 

This October is especially important as it marks the Reformation’s 500-year anniversary. 

I have obsessed over the celebration of this momentous event. So much so that my wife is sick of hearing the names Luther, Calvin, and Zwingly. But not everyone is equally enamored with Reformation Day. Many ask the question, “Why does the Reformation matter?” 

A great deal has happened in the half millennia since Martin Luther nailed his theses to the chapel door and you are its beneficiary. But from what have you benefited? 

The Reformation is not a date on the calendar or a mere historical event but as something alive and active in your life today. Below are two reasons the Protestant Reformation matters today.

1. The Bible you hold in your hands or keep in your pocket.

Reading the Bible for yourself was not a common or acceptable practice 500 years ago. The church told you what it said, what it meant and what you were to believe. The concept of a commoner with a Bible in their language was so unthinkable that it got John Wycliffe in trouble nearly 200 years before Luther. Wycliffe died before he could finish translated the Scriptures into English, but that didn’t stop authorities from digging up his body, burning it and throwing the ashes into the river. That’s what you call opposition to an idea! 

The reformers picked up Wycliffe’s torch and ran with it by translating the Bible into the languages of everyday people. They put the words of God into the hands of men and women to read and learn for themselves. 

While facing martyrdom Luther declared, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves–I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.” 

If your heart and mind are to be held captive to the Word of God, you have to be able to read and know what it says. Without the tireless efforts of the reformers, you may not have the access and knowledge of exactly what the Bible says. 

2. Justification by faith alone.

The reformers reclaimed the very heart of the gospel. The sweet and simple message of the good news of salvation was corrupted by the Roman Catholic Church. A system of penance and religion had replaced the finished work of Christ. Luther led the charge to recover the truths of the gospel—namely that salvation is by faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone. 

The Westminister Catechism expresses this clearly in question 70: 

Question: What is justification?

Answer: Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which he pardons all their sins, accepts and accounts their persons righteous in his sight; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.

Talk about an issue worth standing and ultimately dying for! 

Luther was right that justification is, “the article by which the church stands or falls.” It was the case 500 years ago and it remains so in our day. Too many have abandoned the truths of Scripture delivered to us, chief among which is how a man is saved. The church needs to hear the call of the gospel again today and every day.  

Monthly Mash Up (August 2017)

Every day is a chance for you to grow, get better and improve. All it takes is a willing attitude and the willingness to work hard and stretch yourself. 

I surveyed some great resources in August in my attempts to do just that. I’d like to share a few of them with you here. Below is a quote I’m thinking on, four books I’ve read or am reading, and five articles or services I found helpful.

Each taught me some incredibly valuable lessons. Lessons that made me think, re-evaluate points of view, and better that I would be otherwise. Hopefully they do the same for you.

Quote I'm Chewing On

People tend to focus disproportionately on results, while neglecting the day-to-day things that will get them there.
— Ben Bergeron, Chasing Excellence

Big lofty goals are nice, but more is required to make them a reality. To do that takes daily work. Work that isn’t pretty and that’s not always fun. But work that must get done if you’re going to get there. 

What I'm Reading

  1. Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa - This is an epic tale of Japan’s most famous warrior. Jocko will be reviewing it on episode 100, and I’m rushing to finish this near thousand page tale in the next few weeks.  

  2. Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron - Perhaps one of the most encouraging and inspiring books I’ve read in awhile. Every page is littered with highlighted sentence after highlighted sentence that I read and reread day after day.

  3. Romans 8-16 For You by Tim Keller - I read the first of Keller’s books on Romans earlier this summer and this one was just as good. Few resources on Romans have balanced deep theological truth with easy going style as well as Keller’s. If you want to have a deeper understanding of the theology of the New Testament, get this resource.

  4. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount And His Confrontation with the World by D.A Carson - Our community group is reading through the Gospel of Matthew the next several months. Which means I’m on the hunt for awesome resources to help me wring all the Biblical truth and wisdom from it. My mentor mentioned D.A. Carson’s work on the Sermon on the Mount and I can’t wait to dig in.

From the Internet

  1. Marketing about power and with power via Seth Godin - It’s no secret that Seth’s is one of my favorite blogs. I read his stuff every day, and is a large part of why this blog has gone daily in recent months. In this post, Seth discusses the wide ranging difference between two marketing approaches. Which one do you use? Which one best fits your business?

  2. Why I love my paper dictionary via Austin Kleon - I appreciate Austin’s approach to art and its creation. He offers us a glimpse of the blend between digital and analog. The two really can coexist. This post is a perfect example of how.

  3. Both Lincoln and the Confederacy Were Awful via FEE - It seems we’re in the middle of rehashing the Civil War anew of late. While reasoned discussion is never a bad thing, that’s not we’ve been in the middle of these last several weeks. This article is a quick look at what few are willing say: both sides were in the wrong.  

  4. MoviePass - Monthly movie subscription service that allows you to see unlimited movies for $10 per month. Hannah and I will definitely be checking this out!

  5. Texas Price Gouger Are Heros via FEE - This might be one of the most important articles I’ve read in the last week. It offers an excellent explanation of exactly why price gouging isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Work in process

It’s easy to get frustrated with your progress in this life. 

You hope to be and do better, but find yourself not reaching that destination quickly enough. 

“Do this, this and this and you’ll get there,” is well-meaning advice, but life doesn’t work that way. 

There are very few instances in which life comes with turn by turn navigation. 

In one sense, you’ve already arrived at your destination. 

You already have everything you need in Christ. He is your portion and your prize. In Him, you are righteous and perfect before The Father. 

At the same time, you’re not quite there. You have a ton of work left to do. Areas to grow, mature and change. 

You’re not a finished product. You’ll never arrive this side of eternity. 

You’ll always remain a work in process. Striving, pushing and seeking to be more like Jesus. 

This life is all about that journey. 

The long toilsome journey from one degree of glory to another. From who you were yesterday to who you’ll be tomorrow. 

Today is but one day in that journey. 

Make it count. 

Rest in the finished work of Christ. 
Pursue the Lord faithfully. Seek Him and find Him in His word, through prayer and in the communion of the saints. 

That’s going to require discipline on your part. But you’re up for the task.