500 years is a long time, enough time to forget the meaning and significance of certain events. It’s also the right time, the time to remember and consider the meaning and significance of certain events.

October 31, 2017 makrs the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation. Why does this matter?

Well, let me ask a few questions:

  • Have you ever listened to a sermon that walks you through a passage of Scripture?
  • Have you ever sung songs as an entire congregation during a worship service?
  • Have you ever confessed your sins directly to God without stepping foot in a confessional booth?
  • Have you ever served according to your gifts to encourage people in your church?
  • Have you ever taken both the bread and the cup at communion?
  • Do you attend a church where your pastor is married?
  • Have you ever been told that your works cannot save you?
  • Do you believe that faith alone in Christ alone can save?
  • Do you have your own copy of the Bible in a language you can read?
  • Do you attend a church that talks about and sends missionaries around the world?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then the Reformation is part of your heritage.

The Medieval Church had much influence yet was very corrupt and immoral. Some popes had mistresses, children, and even hosted scandalous parties in the Vatican — the content of which make today’s  red light districts look tame. The Catholic Church also grossly misunderstood various doctrines of the faith. It offered indulgences for sale and, upon purchase, you could free yourself or a loved one from purgatory.

Then, in October 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk and professor of theology, penned his 95 Theses against the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church. October 31, 1517, sparked an enormous shift in the Church and radically rediscovered the heart of the Gospel. Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox, and others resurrected the Gospel that had been buried in centuries of superstition, corruption, and man-made tradition. The reformers taught that a person is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone on the basis and authority of Scripture alone.

Now, 500 years later, we stand on the shoulders of those reformers when we preach the Bible, when we sing congregationally, when we read the Bible for our devotions, when we confess our sins, when we preach the Gospel, and when we send missionaries to tell those who have never heard that they can be saved by grace through faith in Christ.

Each year, I commemorate Reformation Day by listening to “The Reformation Polka.” Enjoy it with me as you “reflect” on this rediscovery of the Gospel 500 years ago.

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Zac Hess joined the pastoral staff in 2013 after serving as an intern during his seminary studies. He grew up on a farm in Ashland, OH and later met his wife, Sarah, who grew up as part of Grace Polaris Church. Zac pursued biblical studies at both Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary. He loves sports, the outdoors, reading, and a good cup of coffee. Zac and Sarah are the proud parents of Jacob and Caroline.

If you would like to learn more about the Reformation, here are a few resources to help: