500th Anniversary of the Reformation

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"And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" - Romans 10:14

With a hammer in one hand and a large scroll under his arm, Martin Luther approached the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. He paused to take a couple of nails from a pouch hidden in the folds of his dark woolen habit then began pounding his 95 theses to the church’s heavy wooden doors.

The date was October 31, 1517 and the event changed the course of human history.

Luther’s protest was not against ghosts and goblins or children dressing up to trick-or-treat. He chose All Hallow’s Eve because it was the night before All Saints’ Day, a day when most of Wittenberg’s inhabitants would be in church. It was good advertising.

This was not the United States of America where freedom of speech is protected as a Constitutional right. The Catholic Church was the supreme authority in the land: those who went against the Church did so at the peril of their lives.

What prompted this act of courage and defiance on Luther’s part?

As Luther studied Scripture, his eyes were opened to a new concept: the concept of God’s grace. Passion burned inside him as he read verses like Ephesians 2:8-9:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

The established Church in Luther’s day misled people into thinking they could be saved by their own works through pilgrimages, confessions and by purchasing indulgences, which were basically “get out of hell free” cards. It became clear to Luther that men could not purchase God’s grace: it was freely given. This conviction led him to write out 95 main points of contention with the Catholic Church, his “theses,” which he ended up nailing to the door of the church in Wittenberg.

Today many Christians debate the proper stance to take toward Halloween. Some believe that the holiday glorifies witchcraft and evil, while others see it simply as innocent fun. One of Satan’s most successful tactics is to incite Christians to fight each other on matters of doctrine. Perhaps we would do better this October 31 to focus on what is most important to God, just like Martin Luther did on that fateful day in history.

Luther was determined. He was passionate. He was willing to sacrifice his credentials, social status, even his life for the sake of sharing the news about God’s saving grace. The words of Romans 10:14 struck him at the core:

“And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

Are you willing to make similar sacrifices to bring people from darkness to light? Luther’s brave act was like a bolt of lightning rending the midnight sky. Now it’s your turn to do something revolutionary: give someone the gift of God’s grace this Halloween.

Prayer: 
Lord, Luther was willing to put himself on the line, that others might know what it means to receive Your grace. Help me to do the same. Help me to offer grace to my family, colleagues, co-workers, friends and community! Amen.
Date: 
Oct 31 2017