The sounds of the Reformation

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4 

Joel C. Seifert  

Bam! Bam! Bam! The sounds came from the hammer driving the nails through the paper. A Catholic professor posted his 95 theses to the door of the university church.   

Fwoosh! Three years later, Martin Luther held a copy of a letter from the Pope. In it, the Pope condemned many of Luther’s ideas. Knowing he was at risk of excommunication, Luther stood in front of a crowd and dropped the letter into a fire, watching the flames consume it.  

“Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God!” Six months later, Luther refused to recant his teachings at the Diet of Worms. He would stand with God’s Word, no matter what it cost him. 

Those were the sounds of the Reformation. But open up your catechism, and you’ll find words written by Luther that call to mind some of the most dramatic and powerful Reformation sounds of all. Over each chief article of faith, Luther wrote this: “As the head of the family should teach it in the simplest way to those in his household.”  

Let Reformation truths sound loudly in our homes 

God gave the apostle Paul a helper, Timothy, a “son in the faith,” to help carry out the gospel ministry. Timothy had learned God’s truth at home. Paul wrote: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5). 

Even though the visible church of their day had lost a clear view of Jesus and preached work-righteousness, Timothy’s grandmother and mother passed on the truth of Scripture at home. Luther reminds us: Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops, and priests to their children, for it is they who make them acquainted with the gospel.  

They say that good character and values are “more caught than taught.” Our children are always watching us and learning from our examples. But faith is only taught, never caught. Our children don’t learn of Jesus by watching us speak honestly and act fairly. They learn as we sit down with them, open the Bible, and let God tell them of his wonderful works. “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.”  

We speak God’s Word, and faith lives in them! 

From Christian homes to the world 

It happens in seemingly humble and gradual ways. A nightly devotion. Morning prayers. Asking questions about Sunday school lessons and sermons. Every day, as countless Christians read their Bible, God pours out his Spirit. Soul by soul, believers learn to love God’s truth and take their stand on it.  

What does a Reformation sound like? As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, you’ll hear preachers proclaim grace from pulpits. You’ll hear churches resounding with powerful cantatas and echoing with “A Mighty Fortress.” You’ll go to Bible studies about holding onto God’s Word in truth and purity. Those are wonderful sounds! 

And, Lord willing, behind all of those sounds you’ll hear some of the most beautiful and influential sounds of the Reformation as families gather to read and listen to the Bible, the catechism, or devotions. Those are the sounds of the Reformation. And when they ring out, God’s truth echoes again in the next generation. 


Contributing editor Joel Seifert is pastor at Shining Mountains, Bozeman, Montana.  


 

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Author: Joel C. Seifert
Volume 104, Number 10
Issue: October 2017

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