One writer entitled his book The Long Reformation. His point was that the reformation is oft repeated throughout history when people have forgotten the truth of God. It is repeated when God’s people return to the Scriptures to find again their Savior and God’s truth.
Israel wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. They forgot God. So on the border of the Promised Land, Moses preached a long sermon to them called the book of Deuteronomy – literally, the second giving of the law. It was a reformation.
In the days of good King Josiah, the janitors found the Scriptures gathering dust in the temple. Josiah read that book and became the Martin Luther of the Old Testament. It was a reformation.
When the people of Judah returned from their captivity in Babylon to rebuild the temple and the walls of Jerusalem, Ezra and Nehemiah brought out “the Book” and read it to the assembled men, women and children. It was a reformation.
Christ entered the temple in Jerusalem and cast out the moneychangers among a people who buried the grace of God beneath the work-righteous schemes of men. It was a reformation.
Christ died and rose for us – and then on the road to Emmaus, opened to us again the Scriptures. It was a reformation.
Martin Luther was born into a church that was corrupt from head to toe, dripping with scandal in high places, selling indulgences of pardon like a pig in the market, utterly lost in a maze of unbiblical teachings. In the struggle to find peace for his own soul, Luther discovered it for others too as he returned to the Scriptures. There he found salvation by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. It was the Lutheran Reformation.
Centuries have passed – and the reformation goes on in each generation. People lay hold of the Scriptures for a brief season…but then lose their grip. They run the straight race for a generation, or two, or three, but then drop the baton in the handoff to their children. They rejoice to find a free and life-changing forgiveness in the blood of Jesus, but then fall in love with some other “gospel” that is all about them and what they do, instead of about Christ and what He has done for them. They trust the Bible in child-like faith, but then become embarrassed by the clear teachings of Christ and surrender to the grinning gods of immorality and popular opinion.
And each time, there has to be a reformation. It’s continual. It’s ongoing. Until Christ comes again…it’s the long reformation.