My friend and colleague, Dr. Charles Spong, retired professor at Southeastern College in Lakeland, FL has written about the Protestant Reformation. With his permission, I am using his “Lessons from Luther” to inspire us to learn about such a pivotal event in church history.
The Reformation of the Church begun by Martin Luther in 1517 is more than about one person or an era (1517-1648). It is really about a continuing movement of the Church forward to what God wants it to be worldwide (Ephesians 4:11-16), a challenge yet to be fully met. 500 years (1517-2017) of church and contemporary life are reminders of the work that needs to be done.
*As evident by reading the life of Luther, it is important to know both the positive and negative turning points in ones’ life. He had numerous ones as evident beginning with his youthful days.
*Luther was open to God’s leading in the Word rather than essentially being influenced and controlled by parents and others, as well as political and social events.
*Luther was committed to the truth grounded in God’s Word. (“My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I will not recant…Here I stand.”)
*Two key truths were restored to the life of the church by Luther, sola fide, sola scriptura (faith alone, scripture alone). These are still affirmed and practiced today.
*Though difficult, Luther was willing to break with tradition and current practice to accept Biblical truth. A knowledge of Church history makes this clear.
*Luther was willing to break with powerful religious and political leaders when in error.
*As observed in the 14th to the 16th centuries, drifting from Biblical truth ultimately leads to failure whether within Catholicism or Protestantism.
*As observed in Luther’s life and ministry, it is evident and vitally important to work together.
*Luther lived in unexpected isolation for a lengthy time, as he was in hiding for a year. Through that difficult experience, the New Testament was translated into German, something never before available to the average person and something that dramatically changed the world.
*From Luther the Church learned anew that all believers are ministers/servants/priests, not just attendees, Ephesians 2:10, 4:12. Note Luther’s The Freedom of a Christian Man. The work of the Church is still done by a small number of church people. The 20/80 dilemma remains, perhaps more accurately 7/93. There would be a great surge in the Reformation Movement if 80 to 90% of believers were fulfilling Ephesians 2:10!
*The spiritual should take precedence over the social and political as witnessed in Luther and all Reformation leaders throughout the past 500 years.
Think theologically. Reflect on the lessons from Luther presented by Dr. Spong. Celebrate the 500 years since God inspired Luther to initiate the Reformation. Continue to build His church!
Love is a verb,
©2017 by Mike Olejarz