500 YEARS AND STILL WAITING
October 31, 2017 – the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Did you know Martin Luther expected 2017 would never come? He wrote, “Things are going toward their end… I hope the last day will not be long delayed, not over a hundred years.”
By the time Luther died in 1546, he had seen dramatic changes in the morality, spirituality, and safety of society. The printing press, which amplified the work of the 1517 Reformation, also carried news of spiritual apostasy, apathy, and moral degradation throughout the world. The Ottoman Empire represented a Muslim threat throughout Europe as it conquered one land after another. It seemed like a great time for things to end on this earth.
It is good to remember what the Apostle Peter wrote:
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”… But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:3-4,8-9)
Cycling as it often does, history recoiled. Following a failed attack on Russia during World War I, the once great Ottoman Empire continued to falter. By 1922 Turkish nationalists brought the Ottoman empire to its end.
In looking around at what is happening in our time, we rightfully can feel like Luther. Today we see moral degradation, spiritual apathy and attacks from enemies. On more than one occasion I, too, have felt that the end is surely at hand.
The Reformation, however, was not a call to defeat enemies with mortal weapons. Rather it was a call to restore the inerrant Word of God to the forefront in the lives of God’s people. For 500 years the spirit of the Reformation continues daily as all of us wrestle with the forces of evil which tempt us to neglect Scripture or distort its meaning.
Today we are the keepers of the truth of Scripture. We are its guardians and communicators. We are to be ever-vigilant of our sinful nature and its pull to lead us away from Scripture. We are to daily “reform” by restoring God’s Word front and center in our lives.
As the dark clouds of moral and spiritual decadence surround us, we may feel like Luther did 500 years ago. I encourage you to emulate Luther’s devotion to God’s Word as the only reliable standard for God-pleasing living and knowing the path to salvation through faith in Christ.
~ Pastor Robert Fleischmann