Five hundred years later, the Reformation is still relevant

Published – Henry Herald

Steven Hawking, renowned physicist and acknowledged atheist, recently said that humanity will not last another thousand years on this earth. He suggested we move to another planet — which we haven’t found yet. He has also warned of other life forms beyond Earth of which humanity needs to be aware. People often think Hawking represents the brightest and the best, and Hawking sees trouble for our world. Science and reason have become our saviors. Yet all of us exist in a reality that we can’t totally control or even understand.

Five hundred years ago, on Oct. 31, 1517, a monk named Martin Luther posted some thoughts about God and the Church on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This action began the movement known as the Reformation, which continues to have impact today. This 500th anniversary of the Reformation reminds us that our fears and needs have not changed. With all our progress and knowledge, we are still concerned about questions of death and our place in the universe.

Martin Luther shared our fears and needs. The answers Luther found in the Reformation address our concerns today. How does God feel about us? What do we do in the face of an overwhelming reality like death?

Luther read the Bible and discovered that God is love. God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross as a sacrifice for sinful mankind. God’s wrath over sin and all who do wrong was poured out on Jesus. In the Reformation, Luther taught that humans don’t earn God’s love by trying to please Him. God’s love is a free gift because of Jesus.

The Reformation is summed up in a brief statement by Luther: “I must listen to the Gospel. It tells me, not what I must do, but what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has done for me” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, Chapter 2). God forgives all those who believe in Jesus. After His death on the cross, Jesus rose from the dead, conquering death for all those who believe in Him, giving them eternal life. These answers address humanity’s needs.

Our world has turned to science and intellect for answers, but they have failed to save us. We have looked to human ingenuity and evolution to deliver us from death, yet death is still inevitable. Even the most learned among us are looking for answers outside of our world.

Five hundred years later, humanity’s situation hasn’t changed – and neither have the answers. Luther found them in God’s love. Luther taught everyone that God sent Jesus to forgive sins and to give eternal life. Where are you looking for answers? Look to a God who loves you beyond death – because of Jesus.

The Rev. Joe Warnke is the newly-ordained pastor of Christ Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod), 3235 Teamon Road, Griffin. Email him at