As we come to the close of our Reformation celebration this month, there are SO MANY THINGS we just simply did not have enough time to cover. It has been an AMAZING month centered around the Gospel, looking at how the Reformers dove back into the Scriptures, studied and taught with clarity and precision, and called the church back to the clear teaching of the Bible. As we wrap up this month, I thought it would be helpful to end with a final thought on the character of the Reformers.
We've been saying this from the start, but the Reformers were fallible, errant, sinful people just like everyone else. Yes, they were used by God in amazing ways to do incredible things for His glory! But we shouldn't idolize them, worship them, or exalt them. Specifically, we shouldn't minimize their sinful struggles. Neither should we discredit their entire ministry because of their sinful struggles. Rather, we should do what I believe Scott Hubbard does so well in the article below: understand the context in which they were living, call the specific sins by name and not sugarcoat or shrink away from them, and celebrate their faith and the way God used them in spite of their sinfulness, just like He uses us and has used all believers before us (see especially the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11).
As Hubbard says, "Every true saint is a divided person - a new self that relapses into old ways (
), a spring that pours forth both freshwater and saltwater (
), a confounding mixture of good and evil. But as Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli display, the Reformers' flaws posed no obstacle to the Lord of the Reformation. Jesus will build his church, and he will do it with broken saints."
Therefore, let us strive to live lives of boldness, courage, and trust in the Lord. And as one aspect of that boldness, courage, and trust, let us clearly identify sin in ourselves, call it what it is, not sugarcoating it or excusing it. Instead, let us own our sinfulness, and in brokenness and contrition, let us strive to live out Luther's first of his 95 theses, "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent' (
Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." Let us live out real repentance as Luther describes, "True repentance is to do so no more." Let us take proactive steps to grow in areas where we are struggling and seek out mature believers who are stronger in our areas of sinfulness than we are to help us in our fight against sin. And in doing so, may we always glory and boast only in our Savior! Our hope is built on nothing less than His blood and righteousness ALONE! Therefore, soli deo gloria, to God alone be the glory (more on that