I hope the last day will not tarry over 100 years, … – Martin Luther
John’s letter to the early church in the first century about the increase of counterfeit teachers and counterfeit Christians resonates with Martin Luther’s hope and expectation that the last day will not tarry for too long (1 Jn 2). Luther, a voice in the wilderness points our attention to the last day just as John draws our awareness to the spiritual deception of the Antichrists in the last day. One of the signs of the spirit of Antichrist is the abandonment of steadfast discipleship through seduction and flattery promises (1 Tim 4). The Babylonian captivity of the Church that Luther wrote about in October 1520 resonates with the deceits and unbiblical teachings in the church. The Church is built and preserve through the ministry of the Word. God’s people, Luther reminds us, cannot be without God’s Word (Jn 15). The Church owes its existence to the Word of God while the world owes it redemption and peaceful existence to the unfinished task of the Church in spreading that Word (Matt 24:14, Matt 28:19, Mk 16:15).
Erik Erikson, in his book ‘Young Man Luther’ spoke about Martin as a boy and a young man. Martin Luther a man at 22 in 1505 true to his word joined the monastery to study to be a monk and a priest in fulfilling his promise to God who saved him from a storm with lighting crashing all around him. Martin Luther and Reformation suggests a testimony of every great person who changes the world first as a young person, and what happens to them in those earliest years is what makes them who they are. The Reformation of 16th century that gave birth to Protestantism was a global movement for missional empowerment and authentic Christianity through evidence of genuine conversion. The Reformation, a return to the Biblical foundation of the Apostolic Church and Age was based purely on Scripture in opposition to those who were deceiving the people into believing false doctrines. The Reformers were Protestants, witnessing for the truth of the Bible and liberating people by the power of the gospel. Just as the Reformers exposed the Roman errors by means of the truth, Protestantism calls us to reclaim the doctrines of the early church founded on access to God trough One Mediator, Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom of God and peace of the world finds reality in the church, the pillar for the truth and this suggests the definition of Reformation as a vision for the future and not just the accomplishment of the past. Why is the world becoming more indifferent to the truth of the Gospel? 500 years anniversary calls us to ‘renew the grand old PROTEST to which the world owes its modern acquisition of liberty, knowledge, peace, and prosperity…’ The Reformation shaped by twofold discovery of centrality of Christ and His salvation rested on the Word of God, The Bible and the Bible alone need to be rediscover, especially the anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ. This 500 anniversary summons us to the rediscovery of the place and seduction of anti-Christ against God’s plan for humanity. The anniversary is a call to the church with a great watchword to expose the error and corruption of our society by spreading God’s Word through grassroots renewal movement.
Protestantism as a positive missional concept calls us to witness to the truth, especially the truth about the last day that has been virtually eradicated. The anniversary reminds us of historical and spiritual lesson and reflection beyond any attack on any denomination or individual. Reformation through the lens of 95 prophetic statements nailed to a church 500 years ago by Luther, the German friar speaks to the state of the church and world today. Luther was not the first person to openly criticise the corruption in Roman Catholic Church but he certainly achieved much in church renewal and in shaping a world of pluralism and tolerance we live in.
Beyond the decades of ecumenical dialogue that has enabled Catholics and Protestants to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation together, the basic principles that were rediscovered by the Reformation continue to offer us a major source of inspiration for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The church in a post-truth culture is increasingly corrupt and materialistic hence, the Reformation at 500 summons us to seek ways to lead and live a meaningful Christian life and witness assurance of eternal life. The truth is no longer subject to the Pope, the Pope is now subject to the truth, but ‘the 500th anniversary of the Reformation finds us in a time of turmoil, insecurity and changes.’ According to Martin Junge, Lutheran World Federation General Secretary, “For many people looking to the future brings anxiety and fears about peace, ecological degradation and what this may mean for the coming generations, our children. There is much concern about the indifference to the reality …” The Christian Church in all our diversity is rooted in Reformation, hence Good News of Jesus Christ, the same in every age and context need to be rekindle (Heb 13:8).
We are living in the last days under a great darkness, famine and decline of God’s Word, and scarcity of the minister of the Word. To overcome the fear of Martin Luther summons us to put on the breastplate of our faith, love and the hope of salvation. Beyond the blessings of constitutional and representative democracy, and free speech, Reformation as a call to go back to the Bible, provides a model for the Church in celebrating Jesus, the Light of world and the Coming King of kings and Lord of lords. Halleluyah.