The Reformation wasn't about change
“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6, 7)
Martin Luther was a pastor in Germany in the early and middle 1500’s. He is most famous for posting 95 statements or theses on the church door in Wittenberg Germany on October 31, 1517.
Martin was concerned with some of the teachings in the church and he wanted to discuss them with the leaders of the church. What ensued has become known as the Lutheran Reformation.
Some feel that Luther always wanted to start his own church by changing the church. In fact some still feel that to be “Lutheran” means to always reform the church’s teachings to match with the times. In reality that was not what the Lutheran Reformation was all about.
Martin Luther never taught anything new. Instead, he taught what the Bible has taught from the very beginning. Instead of changing the church, Luther brought the church back to its roots, the word of God.
Many feel that the angel in the passage was fulfilled with Martin Luther because he held on to God’s Word even when it wasn’t popular. However this prophecy is fulfilled still today with you and me.
Today, God’s Word isn’t always popular especially when it tells you and me what sin is or that we deserve to go to hell. When we stay true to all of the teachings of God’s Word, even the parts we don’t like to hear, we too are that angel or messenger who calls the world to fear God and worship him only.
God’s message is eternal and it will never change. The times may change but that doesn’t mean that God’s Word will ever change or become less true. That is good news for us. Sure God’s Word still says that we deserve hell and punishment but God’s Word also says that we are saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It says that those who believe in their hearts that Jesus is Lord, will have eternal life in heaven because we have been forgiven.
If we change God’s Word and not follow it always, we may lose the message of, “don’t do this or don’t do that,” but we will also lose Jesus Christ and the salvation he won.
October 31st is approaching again and while many will be getting dressed up for Halloween and gathering candy, may we never forget the stand one man took to stay true to God’s Word when it wasn’t popular to do so.
May we also follow in Luther’s footsteps by always returning to what God says to us in his word even if it makes us unpopular.
Happy to have possession of God’s everlasting gospel, just like you!
Jacob Hanneman is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Terry.