IN THE SPIRIT OF MARTIN LUTHER, THE FATHER OF THE REFORMATION
By Pastor Dermoth Baptiste
President, SVG Mission of Seventh-day Adventists
Today the Christian world celebrates 500 years since Martin Luther, known as the father of the Reformation walked away from the Religious establishment of the day, citing 95 practices of the Church that were inconsistent with pure Biblical teachings. As a young monk, Martin Luther hated God. “I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God,” he wrote. Like countless others who doubted whether they had made themselves worthy of heaven, Luther shook with fear at the thought of how God might judge him. Until, of course, he began to understand that the gospel is not a message of fear and judgment, but of good news and great joy.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, in deep study of the Bible and bold utterances, Martin Luther discovered and proclaimed the five indisputable pillars on which the Reformation is grounded:
- Soli Deo Gloria – To God alone be glory
- Solus Christus – Christ alone as mediator
- Sola Scriptura – The Bible alone as the inerrant, living Word of God
- Sola Gratia – Grace alone by which we are saved
- Sola Fide – Faith alone as the vehicle by which Grace is dispensed
The Reformation, carefully understood, is therefore centered in Jesus Christ – His life, His teachings, His death, His resurrection, and His promised return. Jesus is our Creator, our Redeemer and our ONLY Hope. Upon discovering these great Biblical themes, Luther ecstatically exclaimed, “I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.”
Luther had joined a monastery to do good works for God. But he came to see it is not God in heaven who needs our good works. It is people on earth. Luther therefore encouraged Christians, instead of retreating to monasteries, to go out into the world. Having been loved first by God, they could go out to love and serve others.
The words ascribed to Martin Luther as he held firm to the dictates of his transformed conscience, when he was pressured to recant from his position, have inspired generations of believers and non-religious people alike: “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me.” It is evident that the Word of God should dictate a person’s choice to worship and religious practices.
Through the Reformation, a tidal wave of spiritual, social and cultural improvement was unleashed that has forever changed the world:
- The age of printing and the translation of the Bible, making it available to every home
- The composition and putting to music of some of the most heartwarming and soul satisfying hymns
- The beginning of the dismantling of the slave trade by the abolitionists;
- The great spiritual awakening across Europe and into the new world that brought about revival and the spirit of generosity for the benefit of the less fortunate.
The Protestant Reformation is not a historical event frozen in the 16th Century. On the contrary, the Reformation spirit and message must be rediscovered and relived today, if we are to make the most of its core principles. Jesus is the change that the world needs most to make it a better, safer and fairer place. He is the One who mercifully lavishes His love on those who have not made themselves attractive to Him. We must continue to be that change and preach that change.
In this age of ‘post-truth, fake-news and alternative-facts’ it is so easy to become confused or be carried away with the winds of doctrine that is blowing across the land. It is for this reason, that like Martin Luther, we must become students of the Word so that we can discover for ourselves those amazing truths of Righteousness by Faith, Obedience to God’s Law and the Intercessory work of Jesus Christ on the sinner’s behalf.
The question has been asked, whether or not the protest started by Martin Luther and continued down through the centuries by loyalists of the Reformation should continue in as much as there is seemingly a narrowing of the differences in the Religious world. As for Seventh-day Adventists, standing on nothing else but the irrefutable and indisputable word of God, it is our firm belief that:
- As long as we live in a fallen, fractured world, where the great controversy rages between good and evil we must continue the protest
- As long as Christianity remains divided and the Commandments of God trampled upon we must continue the protest
- As long as cheap Grace is offered as license to sin and Religious liberty pounced upon we must continue the protest
- As long as crime, violence, abuse and immorality abound we must continue the protest
- As long as inhumanity to man exists and darkness dim the light of the Gospel we will continue the protest until Jesus comes to liberate man from the very presence of sin.
The spirit of the Reformation lives on; faithful men and women are called upon to carry the liberating, transforming light of the pure Gospel until every stronghold of the enemy is broken, every crooked path made straight, sin is forever abolished and Jesus establishes His universal Kingdom based upon love, justice and mercy.