Standing on a bridge
across the historic Tiber River in Rome, Italy, I caught my first
glimpse of the magnificent edifice that was the catalyst in beginning
one of historys most important movements. I was looking at
the reason for the Reformation.
The Reformation is the
movement that restored a large measure of biblical Christianity
and started the Protestant church named so because those
involved "protested" the corrupt state of much of the
church at the time. The Reformations beginning is typically
dated at October 31, 1517, the day Martin Luther nailed his now-famous
95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
That small piece of paper
created a firestorm. And it was the magnificient edifice on the
Tiber River, St. Peters Basilica, that caused it to be written.
At the time, Pope Leo
X was funding the lavish rebuilding of the ancient church by the
sale of high ecclesiastical posts and something known as indulgences
supposed remissions for the punishment of sin. Indulgences
purported to remit sins of various sizes, or even, for a heftier
payment, buy a souls way out of purgatory and into heaven.
This was too much for
Luther; he drafted and posted 95 propositions, primarily attacking
the sale of indulgences, and invited debate. And so the Reformation,
which had been brewing for more than a century, began. The movement
restored the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace through faith,
the priority of Gods Word, and the priesthood of all believers.
But touring the extravagant
St. Peters, I realized that, despite the convulsive revolution
it produced, St. Peters was the same monument to excess that
it was nearly 500 years ago.
Though God moves and
revivals come and go, the need for reformation will remain with
us until Christ returns.
As Reformation Day approaches,
lets reflect on the rich heritage of the evangelical church
and be grateful. Lets also determine to never lose
the wonderful things the Reformation bequeathed to us: an emphasis
on grace and faith, Gods Word for all, and a Christianity
that is characterized by each individual having a personal relationship
with Jesus Christ.
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