If you ask most kids what they celebrate on the last day of October, they would say Halloween. Would the response be different from a Sunday school calls? As the poet said, “The world is too much with us!” This is the season for thinking about the Protestant Reformation. With Halloween so spiritually questionable today, shouldn’t we be more concerned about our spiritual heritage?
When Martin Luther nailed his 95 these to the door of Wittenberg church on October 31, 1517, that was the beginning of the greatest spiritual awakening since the days of the apostles. Not only Luther, but Hus of Bohemia, Wyclif of England, Calvin of Geneva, and Knox of Scotland were used of God to kindle the fires of reform.
The basic doctrine of the Reformers was that the Bible is our only infallible rule of faith and practice. Not the pope, not human tradition, not church councils, but the Word of God must be our final court of appeal in matters of belief and conduct. This soul-liberating truth needs fresh emphasis in every generation.
Another doctrine rediscovered in the Reformation was justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Our salvation can depend on nothing except the perfect righteousness of Christ. The means of laying hold of the perfect righteousness is faith. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,” Paul says, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Without this truth there is no gospel, no good news for sinners.
Another truth stemming from the Protestant Reformation is the universal priesthood of believers. We depend on no priest or minister for our access to Almighty God. Jesus is the “high priest whom we confess.” Only through him do we have the right of direct access into the presence of a holy God.
We who are heirs of the Reformation have so much to thank God for. And yet we dare not think the battle fought by the Reformers has been won. In every generation, even the Protestant churches, that battle needs to be joined and, by the grace of God, won again. For the sake of the faith once delivered to the saints, we must be willing today to say with Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me!”