October 31st is Reformation Day.
Martin Luther was a brave and studious professor at the University of Wittenberg. Having been ordained as a Catholic priest in 1507, he had a strong understanding of the Catholic Church. But, his pursuit of God and the study of Scripture led him to a place of conviction and courage. He was keenly aware of the corruption of the Catholic Church and understood it was pervasive and painful.
Seeing the lucrative distraction of indulgences and more, he spoke out by writing and posting his well-known “95 Theses”. His paper threatened the income from indulgences sold by the Catholic Church and led to his ultimate excommunication and being declared an outlaw. His message was a clear picture of Christianity, that salvation is by faith alone and cannot be purchased.
This ushered the start of the Protestant Reformation and is an example of someone’s determination to challenge the cultural and religious norm. Today’s Christian church is forever indebted to his courageous actions. Martin Luther was a disrupter of the system and status quo, not for the sake of mixing things up, but rather, for the sake of the Gospel.
This season of remembrance is a reminder of the reality of our need to stand for the Gospel and expect natural responses when one’s way of life is threatened. Acts 19:21-41 tells a similar story. Following the leadership of Paul and the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word was effective and was increasing mightily (Acts 19:20).
Like the Catholic Church following the actions of Martin Luther, the pagans of Ephesus were threatened by the preaching of Paul, and a mob was up in arms in defense of its way of life. While the people’s sense of threat is somewhat understandable, it is a warning for us to consider.
Like the Ephesians, we can risk trusting in the temporary security of:
All of these represent a slippery slope to false hope and security. It is only the Gospel that can save and keep us. It is the Gospel that must be our driving hope and source of strength. Wealth will fade. Religion will lead us to Hell. Reputation seeks to make our name known.
It is the name of Christ and the power of His saving grace that should be our focus. It is in the Gospel that we can find eternal security and peace.
Acts 19 does not describe a university professor nailing a paper to a door declaring heresy. Rather, it describes a missionary by the name of Paul preaching against the idolatry of the pagan, Gentile nations and preaching hope by faith in Christ alone.
Do you put your faith in what is temporary or eternal? Do we, as Christians, have the courage to challenge the status quo for the sake of the Gospel? Think about it.
Perhaps another reformation in Jesus’ church can occur. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 19:21–20:6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.