Reformation Day: Something worth celebrating on Oct. 31

While the great majority of you out there will consider this day Halloween (and it is), there also may be some of you who are aware that it is also Reformation Day which, in the grand scheme of things, is much more important and good to know.

What is Reformation Day? Well, from a point of strictly definition, it is:

Reformation Day is an important liturgical festival that is celebrated by Lutherans and Christians of many Protestant denominations.  It commemorates Dr. Martin Luther’s posting of his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.  This act triggered the movement in world history known as the Reformation. While the historical date for the observance of Reformation is October 31st, most churches celebrate it on the last Sunday in October.

But more importantly, Reformation Day marks the rediscovery of the truth of the Gospel. As Herman Sasse puts it in “Here We Stand”:

It is not, therefore, the return to the Scriptures in itself which makes the Reformation of the sixteenth century one of the great and unique events of church history. The nature of the Reformation must be sought, rather, in the particular kind of return to the Bible….How often has the church been reformed ‘according to God’s Word’!…[T]he…Reformation, in its essential nature, is nothing else than a rediscovery of the gospel….

The rediscovery of the Scriptural truth concerning the justification of the sinner by grace alone, through faith alone, is nothing less than the rediscovery of the Gospel. For, if this truth is forgotten, the Gospel must be interpreted as a system of morals or as a theory of religious metaphysics. Consequently, this discovery constitutes the reformation of the church. It revealed once again that truth by which alone the church lives.

For the church does not live by morals, by the knowledge and observance of God’s law. Nor does it live by religion, by lofty experiences of the divine and an awareness of the mysteries of God. It lives solely by the forgiveness of sins. Hence reformation does not consist, as the late Middle Ages believed, and has even been believed in wide circles of the Protestant world, of an ethico-religious correction, of a moral quickening and a spiritual deepening throughout the church. It consists, rather, according to its own peculiar nature, of the revival of the preaching of the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake….

The [Reformation] understanding of the Scriptures, we say, came as a result of this rediscovery of the Gospel. At all events, it has been the conviction of the [Reformation] that the sola scriptura is conditioned by the sola fide, that a real return to the Scriptures was made possible only by a new understanding of the Gospel. It is in this sense that the Apology to the Augsburg Confession speaks of Justification as “the chief topic of Christian doctrine…which is of especial service for the clear, correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, and alone shows the way to the unspeakable treasure and right knowledge of Christ, and alone opens the door to the entire Bible.” This view alone guards against the false, legalistic conception of the Bible as a law-book ….[T]he Reformation was a renovation of the church brought about by the rediscovery and renewed proclamation of the pure doctrine of the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins.

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