Some people are going all out to get the most out of the 500th anniversary of the protestant reformation. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to celebrate this event. I myself will be doing that and even attending a reformation party. But one thing I have noticed is that even in the wake of such an important epoch of Christian history, the reformation theme can take on its own cultural milieu. In some ways, even the name “reformed” has become its own kind of cool. Some young men drawn by the allure of the reformed culture have grown beards and attempt to display their reformation liberty and style in theological debate over an ale. Others are satisfied to celebrate the day and discuss the great names of the past as they recite the Five Solas.
I am all for honoring the men of the past who have been instruments in God’s sovereign plan for his gospel. Yes, I thank God for Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, William Tyndall, John Calvin and other men who had the God given tenacity to stand on the authority of God’s Word and proclaim the main thing as the main thing. Church history is important. So much so that I took time to teach a little about Martin Luther from the Sunday pulpit.
But that is still not the point. Ask any of the reformers where they desire every person to find their hope. Ask them to refine their gaze to its most central point of focus. Ask them how we might, today, get the most out of the reformation. They will say to put your eyes on Jesus Christ. If we want to get the most out of the reformation, we need to understand that the stance against indulgences, transubstantiation, penance, relics, merit of saints, the magisterium and the papacy was to show that the church had lost the only hope of eternal blessing in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Five Solas (Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, God’s Glory Alone), all point to one source of hope and blessing for every human being – Jesus Christ. Without denying the irreducible importance of any of the other Solas, we must consider that they all find their pin-pointed focus on the cross of Christ.
In Ephesians 1:3-6 the apostle Paul gives us the way we might find the most out of celebrating the reformation. He says it a little differently. He says that it is the way we might know every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. It’s better than getting the most out of the reformation. It’s finding every spiritual blessing in the same source of blessing found by the reformers. We have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus who chose us before the foundation of the world, adopted us into his family according to his purpose, and don't forget that it is to the praise of his glory. Paul goes on to say that in him we have redemption through his blood and the forgiveness of our sins. And we could continue reading in Ephesians 1 of all that gives us ultimate hope and joy in Jesus.
How do you get the most out of the reformation? Don’t glory in an event of church history! Be thankful for it, celebrate it, but don’t glory in it. That's not even what the reformers would have you do. Glory in a Person. Glory in a Savior. Glory in Christ! Spend some time today thinking through how Jesus might be the one aim and focus of your life and how you might spread the news of his single source of hope – the gospel.
Remind yourself, the reformation is not as much about Luther as it is about Jesus.