Most of us associate this day with Halloween. But did you know that October 31st is also a very significant day in the life of the Protestant church? It is Reformation Day. It was on this day in 1517 that Martin Luther, a catholic priest nailed his Ninety-Five Theses (stated objections) to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. This began what is known in history as the Protestant Reformation. For Luther personally, it began a long period of conflict with the Roman Catholic Church. Though men before him expressed concerns with the church, the reformation movement crystallized with Luther. The word reformation means “to form again or to revive” and in Luther’s eyes what needed reviving was the supremacy of the gospel; a right theology in which to worship, a theology centered on God. Reformation theology is built on what are called the five Solas, a Latin word meaning “alone”. They are as follows:
- Sola Scriptura – the church looks to the Bible alone as its ultimate authority (2 Timothy 3:16)
- Sola Gratia – salvation is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9)
- Sola Fide – salvation comes through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 1:17)
- Solus Christus – salvation comes in Christ alone (1 Timothy 2:5)
- Soli Deo Gloria – life is to be lived to the glory of God alone (1 Corinthians 10:31)
We would do well to see as clearly as Luther saw in his time because the supremacy of the true gospel needs reviving today as well. Appreciating and embracing the doctrines of the Reformation helps us to that end because they force our return to a right theology, a theology centered exactly where it belongs; at the cross of Christ. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36).