Today is Reformation Day, a commemoration of that fateful epoch over 500 years ago when the very soul of Christendom was at stake. Europe, and the rest of the world, dominated by the Roman Catholic Church, was ensnared in a spiritual tempest, its people gripped by a darkness wrought from the idolatry and blasphemy that had taken root within the very institution meant to shepherd them.
The Roman Catholic Church, in its quest for power and opulence, had abandoned the apostolic teachings of the Church and embraced something completely foreign to the gospel—something that Paul and the Apostles vehemently warned against. The pews in these churches were filled with fearful souls, led to believe that salvation could be bartered. The sale of indulgences, a heinous practice that bears much semblance to the prosperity gospel of today, saw the Church peddling false promises of sins absolved, with coinage buying one’s way into heavenly favor. This was a gospel not of grace but of works, a message not of hope but of despair. A false gospel that promised a blessing from God in exchange for money. Sound familiar?
In an era shadowed by a Church that had abandoned the truth, Martin Luther emerged as a figure who would become the icon of what would later become known as the Protestant Reformation, an icon of unwavering truth—a man willing to die for it. This man, heavily convicted by his own sin before God, and burdened by the profound transgressions of the Church, was deeply troubled by the brazen distortions of the gospel. From the majestic cathedrals with their echoing hymns to the quiet murmurs of faith in simple homes, evidence of the Church’s perversion of grace was everywhere.
Luther, driven by a passion that mirrored the ancient prophets and with a heart kindled by godly zeal, advanced toward the Wittenburg church. As he nailed his 95 theses to its aged doors, each declaration was a direct challenge to the Church’s heresies, a compelling plea to return to the pure and untainted doctrines of the Word of God. This historical event was viewed as a defiance against the Church’s authority, igniting a revolutionary movement that sought the renewal of true Christianity.
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Yet, as we reflect on that epochal event, it becomes glaringly evident that the church of our day—though it bears the name of “Reformation”—has continued to make a mockery of Christ and His bride. Idolatry, blasphemy, and a self-serving spirit run rampant, not just within the confines of the Roman Catholic Church, but distressingly, even among those who label themselves “Protestants.” The professing church is, in most corners, a den of thieves, a marketplace of worldly desires, and a playground for those who would twist the Word of God to feed their own appetites. While liberal denominations have metamorphosed into doctrinal chimeras, even mainstream Evangelicalism has become a spectacle of self-indulgence rather than a proclaimer of the gospel of grace.
History attests to the glaring downgrade of the church. The Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon’s words ring prophetically true: “A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.” This era is undeniably upon us. What should be a fortress of biblical truth is nothing more than an arena of worldly spectacle.
Today, the professing Church has changed, but the underlying self-seeking doctrines of demons still drive the ship. From the money changers in the temple that so infuriated Jesus, to the money changers of the Roman Catholic Church selling indulgences, to the money changers of the modern proponents of the prosperity gospel, this is a prime example of this blatant perversion of the gospel. Mirroring the Roman Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences, today’s prosperity preachers brazenly trade God’s promises for monetary gain. They tout a false gospel, presenting God as a mere supplier of worldly riches in return for financial offerings.
Evangelical churches, rather than being pillars of sacred worship, have degenerated into entertainment venues. The solemnity of worship has been replaced by theatrical performances, strobe lights, and emotionally charged displays. These so-called churches do not offer refuge for the soul—they merely provide an adrenaline rush and a fleeting emotional high.
And the mainline liberal churches have not merely strayed, they’ve abandoned the faith entirely. They champion sin, endorsing homosexuality and distorting the Scriptures. They push radical feminism, eroding God-ordained roles, and they openly support the murder of innocent children, disregarding the sanctity of life. They are the epitome of death, a dead church—”all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:36). They are embodiments of the evils listed in Romans 1:28-32, filled with unrighteousness, malice, deceit, and more.
Yet, the majority of people in these churches are not born-again believers. They are not sheep, but goats, seeking to be devoured by the wolves seeking to prey upon them. They are attracted not by the goodness of Christ but by the worldly allure these churches offer. Led by false teachers who exist for the sole purpose of condemnation and destruction.
“ For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” —Jude 4
The need for continued reformation is as urgent and undeniable today as it ever was. The church must stand firm, openly reject and speak out against these perversions of grace, and uphold the pure, undiluted gospel of Jesus Christ.
As heirs of the Reformation, we are stewards of this legacy, a legacy that implores us to be ever watchful, ever vigilant, and ever reforming. The Latin cry of the Reformers, “Semper Reformanda,” should be the anthem of our hearts—always reforming, never compromising, and holding fast to the truth of Scripture. Let this Reformation Day serve not just as a commemoration of the past but as a clarion call to the present—to uphold the torch of truth, to guard the gospel, and to stand firm in the face of apostasy.
Happy Reformation Day and Semper Reformanda!