But the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is still a full two years away, giving us more than enough time to look at the various people who played a role in its development. Nothing requires us to confine writing about it to the last week of October. I would freely write about the Incarnation in months other than December, and I definitely don’t wait until Easter to write about Christ’s death and resurrection. So why should I pressure myself to concentrate all I want to say about the Reformation into 10 short days each year?
Although the Reformation lasted (at most) from 1517 to 1648 in terms of a historical period, with most scholars arguing for its completion in 1555, its significance to Biblical Christians cannot be overstated. The Lord brought it about, I believe, to restore the access that believers have to the Bible and consequently to bring people back to the truth that salvation comes by nothing other than faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood.
These two foundations of the Christian faith once again suffer assault from those who, although calling themselves Christians, would alter God’s Word with human strategies and philosophies. Something deep within our human nature fights proudly and viciously against both God’s authority and dependence on Him for salvation. We want to believe that we have something within ourselves that makes us worthy of God’s favor.
Studying the Reformation, with its call back to the doctrines of the Bible, can help us better evaluate current trends and teachings within the visible church. No, I don’t mean to suggest that the Reformation is a measuring rod. Rather, the Reformation points us back to Scripture–the same Scripture that Luther and Calvin used as their measuring rod. As we examine the writings of these men (and others), we’ll witness their reliance on the Bible and on Christ’s atoning work on the cross in ways that should inspire our devotion to Him.