More Than History
People might think that the Reformation is irrelevant today—just a feature on the pages of history. And they may not like history so they might not find that at all interesting. People might think that the Reformation was mainly a reaction to a historical issue 500 years ago that we’ve moved on from and therefore that reaction is no longer relevant.
But the Reformation was not merely a reaction to some problem that was in the church 500 years ago. The Reformation was, at its heart, a project to move ever closer to the gospel—that we might be ever more purified and reformed as believers and the church by the word of God.
That was how it all began for Martin Luther—with him digging into Scripture and seeing how Scripture could confront and overturn the teachings of his day, and it went on as that. The Reformation was, at its heart, a project to move ever closer to the Gospel.
Change in the Church
The whole Puritan movement started in the 1560s in England—a generation or so after Luther—and was a movement that was dedicated to what John Milton called the reforming of the Reformation, because the Puritans were people who saw we cannot settle with any level of change that God has brought about in our life or in our church.
Therefore, we need to be constantly searching in his Word to see how further reformation needs to work itself out and what it looks like in our lives. And so, the reformation movement was a movement of constant change, constant purification by the word of God. And if the Puritans were right in that, that’s what the Reformation is: a project of being ever more purified by the word of God. If that’s true, and I believe they are absolutely right in that, then the Reformation cannot be over.
Here are principles that we need to hold onto. Let’s be constantly purified by the word of God. The central principles of the Reformation still apply because they’re ever-relevant. The matter of justification hasn’t gone away and so the issues of the Reformation cannot have gone away.