It was on this day, October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther, nailed his 95 Theses to the church doors in Wittenberg, Germany and began what is known today as The Reformation.
During this time, the nailing of notices on the church door was a way of public communication and proclamation. As a devout Augustinian Catholic Monk, he was inspired to write his 95 Thesis in protest to the various corruptions and injustices he witnessed in the Pope and in the Catholic Church. One of which was the Pope’s solicitation and collection of money from the poorest of the poor to build St Basilica’s Cathedral, all while the Pope was one of the wealthiest men alive. The foremost corruption however was the “selling of indulgences” as a means of forgiving people of their sins, and the preaching of good works as a necessary means of salvation. To further clarify “indulgences,” it was a corrupt means in which the priests profited from the rich by inferring that they could “buy their way into heaven” and provide “absolution for their sins” by the giving of large sums of money to the Catholic Church. Simultaneously, these “indulgences” inferred a condemnation of the poor as they couldn’t possibly have enough money to “buy their way into heaven.”
No doubt, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses caused quite a stir, as speaking publicly in this way against the Catholic Church was very much frowned upon at this time in history. Luther was subsequently excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1521 and went into hiding. Now during this time it’s interesting to note that the Bible was primarily only available in Latin. While in hiding, Martin Luther paved the way for the people of Germany to understand what the Bible actually said by translating the New Testament from Latin into German, which took him approximately 10 years to complete. For the first time in history, the Bible was made available for people to read in their own language. At this same in history, the printing press was created which made it possible for many copies of the Bible to be made available. Thanks to John Wycliffe and William Tyndale, the Bible was translated into English and spread during this period as well.
In a nutshell, Martin Luther’s intention was to reform the Catholic Church however instead of reforming the Catholic Church, the church divided. Those who agreed with Martin Luther became known as Protestants. Those who disagreed with him remained as Catholics.
As an adult I find Martin Luther and the facts about The Reformation very interesting. I don’t recall hearing or learning much about him or The Reformation when I was young. It very well may have been that I wasn’t interested in this subject back then. It also could have had something to do with the fact that over the many years since The Reformation, Protestantism evolved into two differing schools of thought; Arminianism and Calvinism, and perhaps the subject for a future blog.
I was raised in the 1960’s attending a Methodist Church, where I first trusted in Christ, and which was primarily comprised with those of Arminian thought. However I drifted away in my teens and twenties and lived life doing whatever I wanted to do; more or less, young and dumb. In my late twenties and early thirties I became convicted of my sins, repented, rededicated my life to Christ, and joined the Baptist church. The Baptist Church has a fair amount of both Calvinist and Arminian thought, however surprisingly more of those who either didn’t know or care to know the difference.
The past few years I’ve aligned more so with Reformed Theology and Calvinism. I have embraced the fact that God is sovereign over everything and is in ultimate control. As a side note, I recently separated from the Baptist Church primarily because of the ongoing progressivism and ongoing corruption in The Southern Baptist Convention, a subject for a future blog perhaps as well.
I thank God for Martin Luther, for his brave writing and posting of the 95 Theses; for his diligence in translating the Bible, and for birthing The Reformation, the foundation of Protestantism. Martin Luther established the fact that the Bible is to be the central source of authority for Christ followers, and that salvation is reached through faith and not deeds. Martin Luther’s teaching birthed the beginning of what we know today as the 5 Solas: sola fide, sola scriptura, solus christus, sola gratia and soli deo Gloria!
By Scripture alone.
By Faith alone.
By Grace alone.
Through Christ alone.
To the Glory of God alone!
I’m thankful for the Reformed pastors that followed after Martin Luther: John Calvin, John Knox, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Charles Spurgeon. I actually feel a particular allegiance with Charles Spurgeon as he “was saved in a Methodist church, became the greatest Baptist preacher in history, and then a die-hard Calvinist.”
I’m thankful as well for present day Reformed pastors such as Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Sinclair Ferguson, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Steven Lawson, Paul Washer, Voddie Bauchaum, and Alistair Begg, just to name a few.
In summary, we are saved by grace through faith. Salvation cannot, nor could it ever, be obtained through indulgences, sacraments, or good works. We are not saved by our goods works, nor are we saved as a result of a profession of faith. It is in repentance and faith in Christ that we’re saved as a result of what Christ achieved on the Cross. The Cross is central. On the Cross He bore the weight of our sins. On the Cross He paid the penalty for both my sin and yours. On the Cross He made a way for Salvation. Salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone, by the grace of God alone. It is a gift of God. All of us, including Protestants need to be reminded of this, lest we forget. I think Alistair Begg does a good job of explaining this in this video clip, The Man on the Middle Cross:
Click here ⬇️
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9