Eric Metaxes’ book on Martin Luther has a really great subtitle. It says, “The man who rediscovered God and changed the world.” I think this subtitle captures the heart of the reformation and all that it did. The Reformation literally changed the world as we know it. It brought in a completely new stream of life into the world of Western civilization. The formation of the Protestant church led to an entirely new world of theology, worship, art, science, education and even politics. The spiritual awakening that Luther and the Reformers brought also carried with it a cultural awakening that even they had not predicted.
And yet at the very heart of the Reformation was the rediscovery of God himself. Why is it so important that we understand the Gospel correctly? What is it so important that we understand that salvation is only by faith, only through the Word, only by grace and only through Christ? Because this is the message through which God brings us to himself! This is the truth that opens our eyes and our hearts to know Him! God is at the very heart and center of all of reality. All our life revolves around and hangs on one central question: do I know God? Do I know his purpose for me? Do I know his love? Do I know his glory?
If we do not know God, if we cannot know God – all is lost. All of life becomes a foolish and empty game. You work hard. You strive. You labor. You seek. And you die. And you are forgotten. Without the knowledge of the infinite-personal God of the Bible, Camus is right – life is an absurd joke. And on this late October day, 500 years ago, European culture was living out that absurd joke in a particularly twisted and dark way. In the midst of the spiritual anxiety, disease, suffering, and death – Luther stumbled in on the profound message of Jesus which, as he says, “flung open the doors of paradise itself”.
In all of his struggling and hardship, Luther was not after any cultural revolution. He was after God himself. And yet, as he cut through thick and messy layers of assumption, tradition, and corruption, Luther rediscovered the heart of the historic Christian truth claim that God has given himself to us in Jesus. In this sense, Luther did not start anything new. He merely unearthed the universal revolution that God himself set in motion 1500 years earlier when the eternal Word entered our world.
This is really the heart of the matter. At the end of the day, life breaks down to only a few basic questions. No matter how skeptical you may be, if there is even the remotest chance that there is a God, then it follows that nothing else matters more than seeking to know that God. So here is the question. Do you know this revolution in your life? Do you know this God? Is your reality grounded in the one and only foundation that exists? Is your heart captivated by the One who made you and has loved you from the beginning?