October 31, 1517 Wittenberg, Germany.
Convicted in his heart of the corruption and brokenness of the church, the professor of moral theology at the Wittenberg University decided to make public his convictions and took all them to the bulletin board of the day.
Here on the door of the castle church (“All Saints church”) Martin Luther would nail the 95 theses that would forever change the world and the landscape of the church.
Luther would lead the charge to remind everyone that the Holy Scriptures teach us by the Grace of Christ and by Faith in Christ alone are we saved. Luther challenged an unchallengeable institution and by doing so would began what we know today as the protestant reformation of the church.
The reformation sought to correct the error of corruption and false teaching in the church. So instead of indulgences and material things as the key to salvation, the reformers pointed to five key principles regarding salvation that John Piper summarizes as follows:
“Salvation by God’s grace alone, on the basis of Christ alone, received through faith alone, to the glory of God alone, with Scripture alone as the only, final, decisive, authority on truth.”
This October 31,2017, we celebrate 500 years since the protestant reformation began. Martin Luther lead the charge with his 95 theses but others would soon join in this cause to decontaminate the church. I would encourage all of you to read about the events that would take place in the lives of the reformers from 1517-1648.
A great place to start is Eric Metaxas’ new book, “Martin Luther” below is an excerpt from this book for you to enjoy. Happy Reformation Day!
Excerpt from Martin Luther:
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Jesus died on the cross for those who had mocked and rejected him. God did not crush us but showed us mercy, and Luther could see that the church had not adopted this view, but had itself become wed to worldly power. It took money that was not its own and burned those who disagreed with what it taught. Luther was trying to call the church back to its true roots, to a biblical idea of a merciful God who did not demand that we obey but who first loved us and first made us righteous before he expected us to live righteously. This was the good news of the Gospel that the church had so horribly obscured. And it was what had freed Luther from the horrors of his previous life. This was truth itself, and the church’s disturbing response to his attempts to get it to see these things only proved that God was not on its side in this. He would do all he could to get it to see this, including be willing to die for it, if it came to that. He feared that less than he feared God and denying God’s truth.
Many historians have put Luther forward as the first to put “individual conscience” before the authority of the church and empire. But ironically, he was not at all asserting the freedom of the individual to do as he pleased. He was asserting the freedom of the individual to do as God pleased-if and when the church or the state attempted to abrogate that freedom. Luther was asserting the modern idea of freedom of religion and freedom of con- science for the first time in history. These things point not to man as a new free agent but to God himself. That it would be possible for someone to abuse these ideas to do what God did not want him to do was always the risk, so to the extent that Luther made that risk and error possible, he may be held responsible for that. But the alternative to opening things up to this risk is to accept the sheer authority of church or state, and
that was far worse. So yes, to some extent, Luther’s stand at Worms created new problems that we did not have before, but to a larger extent it gave us genuine liberty in a way that would lead to a new freer and deeper understanding of what God wanted. Just as Jesus had called upon the Pharisees to stop their outward obedience to God and go far deeper, to inward obedience, so Luther called upon every Christian to cease the petty obedience to church that was nothing when compared to the freedom and joy of actually obeying God.
Excerpted from “Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World” by Eric Metaxas, published on October 3, 2017 by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright© Eric Metaxas, 2017.