October 31 is, to most of us, Halloween. It is also the date that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg in 1517. What does a monk and a long list of grievances against the Catholic church and its sale of indulgences have to do with me today? For those of us who joyfully and humbly exalt in justification by grace through faith, everything. Luther's assertion that God's righteousness is imputed to us through the work of Christ was so radical that he was called to recant or face execution, to which Luther replied,
"Unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture or by evident reason, I cannot recant, for my conscience is held captive by the Word of God, and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.”An uproar ensued and surely Luther would have been killed if not for his friends staging a kidnapping. Thus the Reformation began.
Not only that, but did you know that many Reformers died cruel and horrible deaths because they believed the Bible ought to be available to the common man in his own language? Consider that next time you open the Word and read it in language you understand.
We owe a great debt to Martin Luther and it is tragic that so many of us who profess faith in Christ know so little of this critical event in history. If you are like me and never really considered the Reformation nor its influence on the Christian faith, here are a few links to pique your interest...
Luther and the Reformation--a short overview from R.C. Sproul on the events of October 31, 1517
Abandon the Reformation, Abandon the Gospel--From The Gospel Coalition, a synopsis of the historical events and how they ought to influence churches today
Luther's Stand--a more detailed description of Luther before the council (HT: Ordinary Pastor)
Here's the scene as imagined by the movie Luther (which I enjoyed immensely):
Happy Reformation Day!