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Five hundred years ago, an Augustinian monk and professor objected to abuses in the Medieval Church. He probably didn’t know where his 95 points for debate would lead. Rather, seeing problems in his church, he sought to reform it from the inside. Sadly, his call to return to the teachings of Scripture—to the proclamation of salvation by grace, through faith in Christ and not by human works—was not always well received. But since the teaching came from Scripture, it endured.
The Reformation began on that day and quickly spread, affecting all Christian churches. Its effects continue today. The changes that it launched in church and in broader society were wide reaching. It is truly a historic event.
Christians whose churches arose out of the Reformation may celebrate these events, even as they should mourn divisions in the church. However, in remembering these important things, let us not lose sight of an important truth: the church is always reforming.
The church is always reforming, not because God changes or the truth changes. No, it is always reforming because the church is made up of human beings. Every one of them sinful. Every one of them tempted to ignore the Word of God or to substitute his or her own ideas for God’s truth. It is easy for Christians, and for churches, to become confused and to drift from God’s Word and will.
When that happens to churches, God calls them to return. “Come back to me,” He says. “Leave these flawed ideas of yours and come back to my truth.” That happened in the Reformation, but it keeps happening repeatedly. “Let me bring you back,” God says. He will! He is always reforming His Church.
We see the same thing in individual lives. If we are honest, it is easier to see in our own lives than anywhere else. Individual Christians need reformation. Daily we sin and seek our own way. Still, God is faithful. In love, He calls us back to Himself. Repent. Turn around. Come to me. Let me re-form you. Let me shape you once more into what you were always meant to be: my child!
In this, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, God calls all people to Himself, just as He does every day. “My grace is for you. Come and let me bless you.”
Thank God that He re-forms us each day.
"Perhaps Christianity has never been explained more simply and eloquently than in the words Martin Luther wrote to explain the Apostles’ Creed.
Dig deeper. Learn more about Lutheran Theology.