Always Relevant: Four Ways the Reformation Can Help Us Today – Part 2
This is part 2 of a two part series on the relevance of the reformation for today. It was written by Andrew Moody and is from the Gospel Coalition Australia web site
- Because the Reformation reminds us of the real path to heaven
When people lose contact with God, they often try to find what they’re missing in the lower heavens. Sometimes that means worshipping gods and demons; sometimes it means trying to get in touch with the spirits of the dead.
In recent years, our society has tried to slake its spiritual thirst through fantasies of myth, magic and other worlds. This trend has exponentially increased with time—and it has also become more explicitly religious—think of the messianic shades in Man of Steel or the appearance of demigods in the Marvel and DC pantheon.
Such fiction isn’t necessarily wrong. But it can’t satisfy the cravings that produce it. The next logical step is to try real magic and real paganism—and that won’t work either. Our hearts were made for God alone.
The Reformation also arose in a time of myths. Without a clear idea of how to gain access to a holy God, medieval Christians turned their eyes to inferior realms. They imagined saints and angels to pray to; stages of purgatory and heaven to ascend through; states of mind to aspire to. Many looked to Mary, hoping for a more motherly entrée to her scary son.
But the reformers, following Paul and the writer of Hebrews, saw that there was no hope for getting to God except directly through Jesus—and no need to look elsewhere. Jesus, through his sacrifice and intercession had done everything necessary to make his people right with God:
We believe that we have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor: Jesus Christ the Righteous…. But this Mediator, whom the Father has appointed between himself and us, ought not terrify us by his greatness, so that we have to look for another one, according to our fancy. For neither in heaven nor among the creatures on earth is there anyone who loves us more than Jesus Christ does.
- Because Our Real Need is Always the Same
Of course our real problems aren’t really to do with each other, or with ourselves, or with our place in the world. The real problem is that we have sinned and destroyed our relationship with God. That’s as true today as it was five hundred years ago. The visible effects might look different, but the root cause is the same.
And so is the solution. The glory of the Reformation is that it didn’t do anything new but simply pointed back to Jesus: Jesus who is as relevant in 2017 as he was in 1517—or in 117AD, for that matter. Here is a timeless note to finish with from the Heidelberg Catechism:
Question. What is your only comfort in life and death?
Answer. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.