Few people can claim to have changed the world. Martin Luther is certainly one of them. In challenging some of the corrupt teachings and practices of the Roman church 500 years ago, this German priest and professor set in motion a chain of events that transformed Europe and broke the hold of the Catholic Church over the minds and hearts of the continent.
The result was the Protestant Reformation, which led to millions leaving the Catholic Church to try to reform Christianity. From that small beginning sprang dozens, then hundreds, and eventually thousands of churches and denominations—each holding different beliefs, yet each claiming to be Christian.
While Luther’s attempts at changing the Catholic Church were partly successful, in the final analysis they went nowhere near far enough. By his time, in the early 1500s, the Roman church had assimilated centuries of ideas, teachings and practices from other religions, just as Roman religion had done in earlier centuries.
Catholicism had adopted as its major holidays Easter and Dec. 25—the first being a resurrection celebration of completely different gods of pagan antiquity and the latter being the birthday of the sun god, as any encyclopedia or Internet search will clearly show.
From Greek philosophy the church had taken the ideas of the immortal soul and going to heaven or hell at death. From sun-worship it appropriated Sunday, the first day of the week, as its weekly day of rest and worship. The coming Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus Christ, the apostles and the biblical prophets, was replaced with an earthly kingdom in the form of the church.
Luther, who proclaimed sola scriptura—that we should follow Scripture alone—should’ve put his words into practice and led a real reform by going back to the original teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles. Had he done so, the world would be far different!
It’s a shame that today’s Christianity largely believes itself to be the Kingdom of God on earth and has lost sight of the fact that Scripture repeatedly proclaims the Kingdom of God to be the reign of Jesus Christ over the earth at His return (see, for example, Daniel 2:44; Matthew 6:10; Revelation 11:15).
Yes, Bible prophecy tells us that Jesus will establish His Kingdom on earth, and He will begin the greatest religious reformation the world has ever seen! He will initiate “the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets” (Acts 3:21, New Living Translation). Those prophets consistently proclaimed that a righteous King would restore God’s Kingdom to the earth!
At that time Jerusalem will become the international center of religion and government: “All nations shall flow to it . . . and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord . . . and we shall walk in His paths” (Isaiah 2:2-3).
The world will be taught true, biblical Christianity, the heart of which includes faith-filled obedience to God: “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them . . . and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
At that time the world’s universal religion—true Christianity—will include observance of the religious festivals of the Bible that were kept by Jesus and His disciples. “It shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16; compare Leviticus 23:34).
The biblical Sabbath, the seventh day of the week (from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown in biblical reckoning of time), will also be required of all people: “‘. . . From one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 66:23).
We hope you’ll carefully read the articles in this issue to better understand the right and truly needed religious reformation that is coming for the entire world—and how you can be a part of the greatest changes the world has ever seen!