I was asked to give a 5 minute answer to this question in a local church:
Why Should I Care About the Reformation’s 500th Anniversary?
Here is the gist of my answer:
500 years ago, an Augustinian university professor realized that there were big problems in the church. The people were ignorant about God and the Bible. They relied on experiences, works, and the church for salvation.
As he taught Romans to his theological students at the university of Wittenberg, Martin Luther realized that “the just shall live by faith.”
While teaching the Bible, he continued to develop the big ideas that would eventually challenge the theology and practices of the church. Then, on October 31st, 1517, Luther posted his 95 ideas on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
This door served as a kind of community bulletin board. By posting these ideas, he announced a challenge to an academic debate. What he actually did was light a match that would explode into a raging fire of revolution. Today we call this protest that brought reform the Protestant Reformation.
This movement spread across northern Europe and eventually around the world. Now, let’s be clear, the Reformation was not all peaches and cream. There were problems because there were humans involved. But six biblical truths were recaptured and remain important to you and me today.
Using the just published Greek New Testament of Desiderius Erasmus, the Europe wide movement to translate the Bible into common languages made God’s word available to all who would read. The people could see for themselves what the Bible taught instead of completely relying on the teachings of men in the church. Thus, the first big idea of the Reformation we consider is…
Scripture Alone – Sola Scriptura
Among Protestants, the inspired word of God would become the authority by which everything should be measured. From Scripture more biblical ideas were recaptured:
Glory to God Alone – Soli Deo Gloria
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! (Psalm 115:1, ESV)
Christ Alone – Solus Christus
To the Jewish council, Peter proclaimed in Acts 4:11-12: “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (ESV)
Here is the Good News: Jesus + Nothing = Righteousness
Grace Alone – Sola Gratia
Isaiah proclaims the good news saying:
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,”… (Isa. 61:10, ESV)
Faith Alone – Sola Fide
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Rom 12:3, ESV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9, ESV)
Royal Priesthood of All Believers
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Pet 2:9)
Today, like in 1517, there is widespread theological confusion of various kinds about works righteousness, errors about the Bible, about health, wealth and other teachings that falsely elevate man, his reason and his abilities.
These big ideas matter today to a weakening church in 2017 as they did back in 1517. We need to place our focus on God. Be careful church that you don’t spend more time in the writings of man than in the word of God!
To God ALONE be ALL the Glory
So, as members of the royal priesthood of God, saved by the grace of God, through faith alone, in Christ alone, trusting in Scripture alone, let us give God all the Glory with our lives. THIS is why the Protestant Reformation is important for us 500 years later!
Soli Deo Gloria.