On this day 493 years ago, Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of Wittenburg chapel, and in so doing started a fire that has not yet gone out.
The medieval church was in many ways a praiseworthy institution, and it has many lessons to teach the church today. However, corruption and doctrinal defection had also accumulated over time. There had always been reformers who protested against the problems in the church, but in the early sixteenth century God used Luther and the other Reformers to bring these things to the attention of the church leadership in a way they could no longer afford to ignore.
This was Christ’s judgment on His church, and the leadership ought to have responded by repenting. Indeed, repentance was exactly the response that Luther and the other Reformers sought. They never conceived of themselves as starting a new church; they never intended to start a new church. But the leadership hardened in their rebellion, and as a result the Protestant churches were born.
Today Christ’s church is fragmented into many pieces, most of whom do not think of themselves as part of one another. But we have only one Head, and He has only one Body. We believe — to put it in the old way — in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, and the communion of saints. We also believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting, and on that day when we all stand in the assembled throng before God’s throne in heaven, there will be no fragmentation. Even today, when the spirits of just men made perfect gather on the heavenly Zion, there is no division.
In fifteen minutes, my church body and I will ascend to the heavenly Zion and join them, as will many other churches in this town and around the world, and there, on that holy mountain, nothing will divide us — even if we don’t yet know it.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.