Reformation day is coming up on October 31st. Some may ask, what is reformation day? What is it that makes this day special? Reformation Sunday is the celebration of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. Martin Luther’s theses was an article stating 95 reasons why the 15th-century church was wrong in selling indulgences which were certificates of paper acknowledging the financial gifts a person has given the church. It acts as a promise that they or their loved one would be “freed from a portion of the misery expected in the afterlife”. This is a very important day to most believers currently.
On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther made a revolutionary movement that changed the very way that people viewed the church. He used this article to call out hypocrisy and corruption in the church and church leaders. It is obvious then why we celebrate this day in our history on October 31st. This momentous event affected the way that we do church and how we view it today. But what exactly did the 95 theses do?
According to Parker Douglas, a Junior studying Biblical and Theological studies here at OBU, “The Reformation was not only a massive theological moment in history, but it was also a massive historical moment for the world. The 95 Theses was the lighting of the match that sparked a massive thought change for the entire world. While most of the world was part of and under the Roman Catholic teaching many questioned and felt oppressed because over the recent years their teaching became more influenced by the spirit of Greek philosophy than the spirit of the one true God.
The Catholic church had shifted to a false Gospel of salvation by faith plus works; whereas, the Reformation wished to return to the true Gospel of salvation by faith alone, sola fide. Luther, in posting the 95 Theses, was not intending to separate the church, however, the issues grew so much the Catholic Church refused to listen. Luther’s followers refused to remain under what they saw as an extremely oppressive religion.”
He states that the Reformation helped to change the thought of most of the world. Even the Catholic Church abandoned most of their false teaching in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Reformation is a very important event that people nowadays should continue to remember and reflect.
Due to Martin Luther’s 95 theses, Christians are able to think critically about the church as an institution. Martin Luther had a large part to play in encouraging our ability to go to the Bible as the ultimate authority and to promote people to seek God’s word as the ultimate authority, rather than the church or modern-day pastors.
The Bible itself, as the word of God, “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit”, in Hebrews 4:12. We should continually rejoice for what Martin Luther did, but more importantly, we should rejoice in what Reformation Day means for the church itself, for the body of believers.
John 2:15-22 describes an instance in Jesus’ life, where Jesus, “making a whip of chords, he drove wicked nonbelievers out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen”.
Most of us have probably heard this story before, but according to Tim Keller, this story has a much deeper meaning than most people probably realize. He explains that in this instance, Jesus is claiming something that no one had ever even tried to claim up until that point—no other person has sought to claim since. Jesus states that he is the temple.
He is the Shekinah Glory, or the full embodiment of who God is. Up until this point, the only way that humans could seek the divine, in any religion, and in any capacity, they needed to go through a priest or an offering, to experience what it is that human beings have sought all throughout history.
So, when Christ came and showed that he had the authority to rearrange the way that people encounter God, everyone was shocked. In many other passages, when Christ makes statements such as, “you must hate your father and mother in order to follow me”, the Pharisees respond by seeking his death.
But in this instance Jesus shocks them so thoroughly, they do nothing. Timothy Keller explains in his sermon “The Final Temple” that Jesus is making the claim that no longer is people’s relationship with Christ going to be a transactional relationship.
From now on, Christians will no longer go through a temple or priests but through Jesus Christ himself. Therefore, what Martin Luther did is so important, not because he was making up a whole new idea about Christianity, but because he is pointing to the fact that Jesus Christ himself is what we need to seek the Father.
Therefore, we celebrate! Jesus did what no one else in the history of any religion was able to do. He has given us himself, so that we might surrender our will to the Father, not to any sort of priest or religious leader.