During the late middle ages, the Roman Catholic Church had imprisoned God’s Word in the Latin language, a language the common people of Europe did not speak. The Reformers unlocked the Scriptures by translating them. And once the people had the Word of God, the Reformation became inevitable.
“Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”
What Caused the Reformation?
Many people might answer that question by pointing to Martin Luther and his 95 Theses.
But if you were to ask Luther himself, he would not point to himself or his own writings. Instead, he would give all the credit to God and His Word.
Near the end of his life, Luther declared: “All I have done is put forth, preach and write the Word of God, and apart from this I have done nothing. . . . It is the Word that has done great things. . . . I have done nothing; the Word has done and achieved everything.”
Elsewhere, he exclaimed: “By the Word the earth has been subdued; by the Word the Church has been saved; and by the Word also it shall be reestablished.”
Noting Scripture’s foundational place in his own heart, Luther wrote: “No matter what happens, you should say: There is God’s Word. This is my rock and anchor. On it I rely, and it remains. Where it remains, I, too, remain; where it goes, I, too, go.”
Luther understood what caused the Reformation. He recognized that it was the Word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, preached by men of God in a language that the common people of Europe could understand. And when their ears were exposed to the truth of God’s Word, it pierced their hearts and they were radically changed.
It was that very power that had transformed Luther’s own heart, a power that is summarized in the familiar words of Hebrews 4:12: “The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.”