Belfast Telegraph

Message of Reformation's founder as true today as it was five centuries ago

By Rev Gareth Burke

Recently, at the church door, having just conducted a service, I received from someone in my congregation a small package.

When I got to the privacy of my car, I was surprised to discover that inside the mystery package was a Playmobil figure.

Having at first assumed this was a gift for one of my grandchildren, I came to realise, upon closer examination, that it was actually a gift for me!

Now, why would I want a Playmobil figure? It turned out that the Playmobil figure I had received was none other than 'Martin Luther', who, it seems, has turned out to be the best-selling Playmobil figure of all time.

Over this weekend, many churches are taking time to reflect on the life of Martin Luther. Five hundred years ago, on October 31, 1517, Luther nailed his famous 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church, Wittenberg. This is considered the beginning of the Reformation.

However, we need to be careful that we don't make too much of a man.

We need also to be careful that we don't give the impression that we agree with everything Martin Luther said and did.

However, the reality is that God was pleased to use him in the rediscovery of Biblical truth in the middle of the sixteenth century, and his influence and teaching continue to be of significance for many people today.

A colourful character, not short of an opinion and very willing to share his views with others, what could we say was the most important thing about Luther and the Reformation?

In a nutshell, his great struggle as a young man was with the question, 'How can I be right with God? How can I be in a right relationship with God? How can I know the forgiveness of my sins?'

He found the answer to this question while studying Romans Chapter 1 in 1515. In meditating upon verse 17, "The just shall live by faith", he came to see that the only way for man to be right before God and to know God's forgiveness is through faith in God's Son, Jesus Christ.

This is the message right at the heart of the Reformation - Christ alone.

A message which was true 500 years ago and is most certainly true today.

Christ alone is the one who can save us and bring us into a right relationship with God.

Belfast Telegraph

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