Thursday, November 01, 2007


Yesterday, October 31, was Reformation Day. It's the day people put on masks and costumes and re-form themselves into something they're not! Haha!

But seriously, through what we've come to know as "The Reformation," God did some great things through people such as Martin Luther (and other "reformers" such as Calvin, Wycliffe, Tyndale and many, many others) that began to take Christianity out of the darkness of legalistic and unbiblical religious practices and back into the gospel of grace. Not that things are perfect these days! (I'll get to that below). But the truths that Luther's eyes were opened to (as he studied epistles such as Romans and Galatians) were finally brought out into the public arena, when they had previously been kept hidden by the religious leaders of the day who had agendas other than teaching the true freedom of the gospel of Christ.

I've never studied the Reformation deeply, but I always perk up when I read about it or hear discussions about it, and I'd love to delve into a deeper study of it. Nevertheless, I remain an amateur on this subject and so I simply want to share a couple of things that have stuck out to me during the past couple of days as I listened to Christian radio and read a little bit on the internet.

Terry Rayburn of Grace For Life has an excellent article called "Celebrating Halloween with Abraham, Martin & John." This is actually the transcript for his weekly Grace Walk Internet Radio program. This week's program (as with all his programs) can also be heard via his blog. I think the whole of it is well worth reading (and/or listening to), but if you scroll down to the section on "Martin," there is a paragraph that goes right along with some interesting things that I also heard on the radio yesterday.

"But no matter how he (Martin Luther) worked and strived and prayed and worked and strived and prayed, he had no peace. And the reason was that he understood how righteous and holy God was, and that man’s works can never gain favor from such a perfect and righteous and holy God."

I've always known this to be true about Martin Luther, but the words here pinpoint something specifically that I wish the world - especially those in the Christian church - would wake up to! Luther "understood how righteous and holy God was." There are two basic ways a person can go when he understands the perfect righteousness and holiness of God. Luther started off in one direction, but fortunately ended up going completely the other way. At first, he dedicated his life to try to live up to this righteousness. He struggled, strived, worked, prayed, and he even entered the monastery. But in all of this, he found he just couldn't live up to it and he did not find the peace of God.

Through his struggle, he finally came to understand that his striving and his works could never gain him favor with such a perfect and righteous and holy God. The more he tried, the more he understood just how righteous and holy and perfect God is and how far he fell short of it. Understanding the perfection of God should lead a person to understand that it's impossible for man to live up to it! Fortunately, all of this eventually led Luther to the grace of God.

One other comforting and reassuring thing I heard on the radio yesterday has to do with how God used various "reformers" in ways in which they didn't set out to be used by Him. One radio commentator, who was speaking specifically of Luther, said that he didn't set out to start a mass reformation of the church. In my own words, he didn't set out to change to world as we know it. But through his actions and the actions of the other reformers, the world was changed. The church began to take on another shape. The reformers themselves didn't call themselves the "Reformers" and they were not involved in some huge plot to "reform" the worldwide church. In simple terms, they simply spoke and wrote about what they believed. (Not that they didn't face huge obstacles and opposition). Another radio commentator, who was also talking about how the reformers didn't set out to change the world, put it this way (and I don't recall whether he was talking about Luther or another reformer): "It's as if he stumbled in the dark and grabbed a hold of a rope... and didn't realize there was a bell attached to it!"

May that bell sound loud and clear and for a long, long time to come!

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