Good Morning! I first posted this
one year ago today, and decided to do it again because of its importance in
the history of Christianity.
"For in the gospel a
righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first
to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith'"
(Romans 1:17 NIV).
Most Lutheran and some other Protestant denominations
observe "Reformation Day" on October 31. It commemorates Dr. Martin Luther's
posting of his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in
Wittenberg, Germany on October 31st, 1517. This act triggered the movement in
world history known as the Reformation. While the historical date
for the beginning of Reformation is October 31st, it is often celebrated by
churches on the last Sunday in October. The Reformation was the great
rediscovery of the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus
For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church had been plagued
by false doctrines, superstition, ignorance, and corruption. Since most
ordinary Christians were illiterate and had little knowledge of the Bible, they
relied on their clergy for religious instruction and guidance. Tragically
however, monks, priests, bishops, and even the popes in Rome taught unbiblical
doctrines like purgatory and salvation through good works. Spiritually earnest
people tried to justify themselves by charitable works, pilgrimages, and all
kinds of religious performances and devotions, but they were left wondering if
they had done enough to escape God's anger and punishment.
The truth of the gospel -- the good news that God is
loving and merciful, that He offers each and every one of us forgiveness and
salvation not because of what we do, but because of what Christ has already done
for us -- was largely forgotten by both clergy and laity. The Holy Spirit used
an Augustinian monk and university professor named Martin Luther to restore the
gospel to its rightful place as the cornerstone doctrine of Christianity.
Our passage was a major factor in convincing Martin Luther
that salvation is by grace through faith, not by works, and that any
righteousness a Christian has comes from God as a result of his/her faith in
Jesus Christ. The quote within the passage: "The righteous
will live by faith" is from Habakkuk 2:4.
Luther drafted a series of ninety-five
statements in Latin discussing indulgences, good works, repentance, and other
topics, and invited interested scholars to debate with him. The publication of
the Ninety-five Theses brought Luther international attention and into direct
conflict with the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Holy Roman Emperor. A little
over three years later, he was excommunicated by the pope and declared a heretic
and outlaw. This was the beginning of the Reformation, the culmination of which
was the writing of the Augsburg Confession of 1530, the first
official Lutheran statement of faith.
Martin Luther and his colleagues came to understand that
if we sinners had to earn salvation by our own merits and good works, we would
be lost and completely without hope. But through the working of the Holy
Spirit, the reformers rediscovered the gospel -- the wonderful news that Jesus
Christ lived, died, and rose again to redeem and justify us. As Luther wrote in
his explanation of the Second Article of the Apostles' Creed:
"I believe that Jesus Christ,
true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the
Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature,
purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil;
not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent
suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom,
and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as
He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most
On Reformation Day, we glorify God for what he
accomplished in 16th century Germany through His servant, Dr. Martin Luther --
the recovery of the gospel of salvation by grace through faith for Christ's
sake. We also earnestly pray that God will keep all of us faithful to the true
gospel and help us to joyfully declare it to the world. This beautiful hymn
verse captures the theme of the Reformation celebration:
By grace God's Son, our only
Came down to earth to bear our sin.
Was it because of your own
That Jesus died your soul to win?
No, it was grace, and grace
That brought Him from His heav'nly throne.
I hope this brief summary on the Reformation will
stimulate you do study further this most important movement in the history of
Christendom. Have a wonderful day as you celebrate
God's love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness!
Love, Jerry & Dotse