The Reformation Today
By Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard
It was like a large rock thrown into a pond causing waves to crash ashore. No, it was much more violent. It was more like a massive explosion that occurred in the midst of buildings, resulting in shrapnel being scattered, walls tumbling down, and windows shattering. What am I talking about?
I am speaking about the sixteenth century Reformation. Yes, I am referring to the great Reformation explosion that happened in the 1500s when Martin Luther and the Reformers came into sharp conflict with the Roman Catholic Church of that time.
With all of that said, what good does this historic explosion do for us here and now?
Sure, we live in the aftermath of this enormous explosion and reap some of the benefits of much that was accomplished during the Reformation. However, the church and our nature have a way of cleaning up the rubble, patching the shattered walls, and fixing that which is broken to move away from the explosion, and returning to a man-centered message that encroaches and overthrows the very Gospel.
Frankly, my friends, the very message of the Gospel that exploded and detonated the church some five
-hundred years ago is an explosion that needs to happen in our midst, right here and right now. It needs to happen again.
Yes, the explosion needs to happen every year and every week in the church. You see, “The church must be in a state of continuous reformation… a continuous return to the Word of God. [The reason why?] Our old sinful nature continuously tempts us to leave the Word of God behind. If we do not continuously reform… if we do not continuously study God’s Word, then we will slowly, but surely drift away from the truth. We will drift away until we are no longer free.”1
Therefore, blessed Saints, we do not merely study the great explosion of the Reformation once a year or once every 500 years on Reformation Sunday, but as a church of the Lutheran Reformation we undergo this Reformation explosion and experience continual reformation every Sunday and every day. Why is this so; how is this possible? It is this way because at the heart of the Reformation was the Word of God – the Word that invaded an Augustinian Monk and the Word of God that invaded the church. Furthermore, this very Word of God is the ‘same’ Word of God that continually comes to you and me in the local church. Otherwise stated, the rock is thrown into our lives and the explosion is recaptured every time that we read the Word of God, hear the Word of God, and receive the Lord’s Sacraments.
So, do you see the rock tossed in the water? Do you feel the blast from the detonation? Jesus fulfilled the Law; sin was punished on Jesus; salvation was accomplished perfectly; you are baptized into Christ’s name; you are absolved by the Word of God; you are admitted to a heavenly feast. It is finished — for you.
This changes everything; nothing will ever be the same. Cur-plunk; splash. Bam; shatter. Christ Jesus has been crucified and resurrected for you. You are justified by grace through faith as a sheer gift. The Reformation lives on.
1James T. Batchelor, “Reformation (Observed) (26 October 2014) http://lcmssermons.com/index.php?sn=3916 (26 October 2014).