Friday, November 02, 2007

Reformation

October 31, 1517 is counted throughout the world as Reformation Day. It stands in stark contrast to the worldly celebration of Halloween. On this day, Dr. Martin Luther stood against the world and against the world’s religions and called for all the world and especially those who count themselves as Christians to repent. He challenged the ways of mankind and urged that the Word of God is the basis for true faith rather than ceremony or tradition or human attempts at righteousness. He especially urged people to abandon the false worship that focused in various ways upon buying God’s favor with money, devotion, penance, or other works. He urged all people to be reformed in their hearts and souls so that they trusted in God’s mercy and grace in Christ Jesus. The reformation that he sought was a simple return to the God of grace, mercy, and peace.

Today there is much buzz about needing new reformation. I believe that Luther would object to this terminology. The need is not for a new reformation today any more than such a need for a new reformation existed in Luther’s day. Luther did not urge a new reformation, but urged a return to the true reformation, the reformation that the Lord God has been working even from eternity, and pronounced already in Genesis 3.

Throughout history there have been many reformations akin to the one that is attributed to Luther. The first is recorded in Genesis 3:20 when after hearing the Lord’s declaration of the Gospel Adam turns to his wife and gives her a new name, Eve, which means Life. Other little reformations include each time that the Lord raised up a new judge to turn Israel from their idolatry back to the unadulterated worship ordained through Moses. Several kings also enacted little reformations, such as Hezekiah and even Manasseh. Yet none of these were lasting reformations, neither were they complete.

The people from Adam to John the baptizer waited for the day of the reformation. Today we look back upon it and also forward to it. For in Christ God did reform mankind. The image of God was restored to mankind in the body of Jesus, born of Mary. Mankind was truly reformed.

This reformation is applied to us today as the Holy Spirit comes to us through the Word in the water of Baptism and rejoins us to Christ crucified. This reformation is renewed in us each and every time that we come to the Holy Table to receive the body and blood of our Lord. The fullness of this reformation will be realized when Christ returns in the fullness of His glory to take us once and for all from this world of confusion and unbelief, to abide with Him in the everlasting joy of the removal of all that is sinful and evil. Then the reformation shall be complete in time even as God has already declared it from eternity.

Until then, reformation is the continual life of the Church. Reformation is the work that God works among us as we gather to Him in His means of grace. Where these are administered purely, the blessed reformation continues. Where these are adulterated and where this adulteration is tolerated, God’s grace does not prevail, but rather, people focus upon many other things.

For those who are thinking that a new reformation is needed today, I would suggest that you are correct if you are speaking of the reformation that we each need to encounter anew each and every day. The reformation that is needed is the one that Adam experienced and that many years later Luther also experienced. That reformation is the repentance that the Holy Spirit works through the Gospel so that we are set free from our dependence upon all things that lead us into temptation. The Holy Spirit always leads us to the means of grace, where we receive Jesus, our God and Savior. In Him we are truly reformed again and again, and even forevermore.

A final and very important point to remember is that when we speak of the need for reformation we are not speaking of this need for other people, but for us. This is why the Lord Jesus reminds us of our need to remove the log from our own eyes first. We, ourselves, need to return to the pure Gospel and the pure Sacraments, where God washes us with holy water that cleanses to our very souls and covers us with the blood of purification and life from the inside out, removing our log so that we may see clearly the reformation that God alone can work for us, and does work for us and among us through the means through which He has promised.

2 comments:

Weekend Fisher said...
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Weekend Fisher said...

<< reformation is the continual life of the Church. >>

Amen. Thank you ...