On this day 489 years ago, a monk by the name of Martin Luther posted a theological article in a public place. A fairly insignificant action in itself, but one that would change the world! When Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, to use Arthur Wallis's analogy, the cracks spread out across the reservoir wall. The flood that was released when the walls collapsed is what we now refer to as the Reformation.
This revival, for revival it was, was not so much a revival of power, but of truth. Revealing the eternal truth in God's word is just as much the activity of the Spirit of God as the manifestations of power. It recaptured the truth at the very heart of the gospel - that man can do nothing to earn or merit salvation; grace is a free gift of God extended to all who are dead in sin, and unable to save themselves, that through faith alone they may become alive to God because of what Jesus alone has done.
As with all moves of God, and men of God that have preceded us, we are indebted to Luther and the Reformation. We would not be where we are today without them. But equally we have an obligation to take the lessons learned and move on. Luther fought his fight of faith to free the church from the bondage to unbiblical traditions, not to replace them with a new set! Being "Reformed" is not fundamental to the essence of the church, though through the Reformation essential truth about what it means to be the church was reclaimed. An important distinction. We have an obligation to remember the past - not to live in it!
The principle of Sola Scriptura - applying all doctrines and practice in the church upon the authority of the Scriptures alone, is as vital today as it was in Luther's day. When men deny the power and operation of the gifts of the Spirit based on their experience and church traditions; when homosexual men are put in positions of church leadership based on current culture and opinions; when the church can be governed by any man-made scheme as long as it is not the model of Apostolic delegation seen in the New Testament - it's time to recapture what Sola Scriptura really means. Not to look back nostalgically at the ground that was taken 500 years ago, but to take up the baton and press into all that it means to be the Church of Jesus Christ revealed in God's eternal word today!
Ever since the light was almost eclipsed in medieval times, God has been working to restore to the church the light, the purity, and the power that are her birthright and that characterized her in the first century. The affairs of God’s house must be re-established as He instituted them at the beginning. The ways of apostolic Christianity must be recovered or the church of the latter days will never ride the storms that already threaten to engulf her. God has used revivals to this end.
During such times, new light has broken from the sacred page, and out of such times new expressions of the church have evolved, recovering (in most cases) something more of the mind of God. Only when the new truth became central and the work was built around it, instead of around Christ, and only when believers became more diligent in holding fast to the new truth than in holding fast to Christ, did the movement become denominational and sectarian.
Although the revivals of the future will surely reveal that there is yet more land to be possessed in this respect, let us never forget what we owe to the spiritual momentum derived from the movements of the past. And let us be ready to walk in whatever new light may break forth when once again God is pleased to manifest His power and glory.
~ Arthur Wallis