October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the doors of the Wittenberg Castle. This was the start of what would come to be known as the Reformation. The Reformation was significant to all in the early church – Roman Catholics and the future Protestants (pretty much everyone other than Roman Catholics) alike.
So each year on the last Sunday of October, we celebrate that momentous occasion! We read from Jeremiah 31, Psalm 46, Romans 3, and John 8. We sing Luther’s famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress” and we wear red symbolizing this freedom that we have in Christ. It is a glorious day to celebrate indeed!
HOWEVER! It must be made clear that in our celebration of freedom from the papacy we do not forget what it is that we are actually celebrating. If we forget the real reason we celebrate, why Luther nailed the 95 theses, we end up praising doctrine and church practices which puts us in the same place that we as Christians were 505 years ago.
Therefore, let us remember what it is we actually are celebrating – what was actually understood by the actions of the Reformation: our freedom as Christians. We are made freed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is not our joyful singing of “A Mighty Fortress” that saves us. In fact it isn’t our church practices that saves us. Nothing that we do justifies us (Romans 3:20). Instead, our church practices, our singing, our wearing red, it all is BECAUSE of the faith that God has given us in Christ Jesus. It is all BECAUSE of the grace we have been given by God, redeemed by His Son (Rm 3:24).
This is the freedom we celebrate. Freed from our fears of not doing enough to please God. Freed from the belief that we are responsible for our salvation. Freed from the sin that holds us captive, the sins that we cannot free ourselves from by our own power.
May you believe this all to be true. May you lay your trust in the hands of Christ and know Him to be your only source of righteousness. Know that it is by the faith that God has given you that you are set free in His name.
This is most certainly true.