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Not the sort of word that features in a regular, everyday conversation. It signifies a five-hundredth anniversary. I predict we will hear it often in the lead-up to October this year, when Martin Luther’s historic protest will be commemorated.

But what is the message of the Reformation for us in 2017?

It is, of course, the message of the Gospel – of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. That message needs to be heard plainly right now. It must be sounded forth, for ‘how shall they hear without a preacher?’ (Romans 10:14). By our words and our walk, we must present Christ to a lost world.

The message of the Reformation is also one of courage to stand for right, and against wrong, even if it seems that all the world is against you. Such courage is needed today. To declare Christ, to resist the errors of Romanism and its apologists, and to bring a truly Christian perspective to the great issues of the age – well, such voices are generally drowned out, inevitably vilified, and even criminalised, the Ashers’ verdict a case in point. But we are to continue in the things we have heard, and not to be ashamed of expressing them.

Luther was no perfect man. He had his faults. But, five hundred years on, the stand he took is a challenge to his successors. And it is a test we cannot afford to fail.

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