October 31st is the day our country celebrates Halloween, but for us who follow Christ, no tricks today, just treats! Or treats, known as “theses,” which were offered on a church door; a listing of arguments to protest the abuses of the church in power in his day.
Today marks the 500th Anniversary of what we call the Great Reformation; when a young Augustinian monk named Martin Luther took a stand against religious errors in his day!
As Martin Luther read and studied the word of God for himself, he noticed that the Bible said nothing about a pope’s power to free deceased relatives from Purgatory. As he kept kept studying the Bible, Luther noticed many other mistakes in the practices of the church. For example, why did priests, monks and nuns have to be celibate? Why was the church service in Latin, and not in the common language of the people? Why was the Communion wine only consumed by the priest and not the people? These practices and many more bothered Martin Luther, because they were inconsistent according to the word of God.
Because Luther was willing to not just accept what the church was telling him at face value, because he read the word of God–the Bible–and understood the truth, he risked his life and refused to recant. He said in effect, “Unless you can show me my errors from the Scriptures, I am bound by my conscience to the word of God. I will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other.”
Martin had found a true and intimate relationship with the one and only living God, by faith alone in Jesus. He no longer feared man, even to the point of death, but feared God alone.
“Fear God, and you’ll have nothing else to fear.“
Because he stood up for the truth, Luther brought needed reformation to the church then, and we all benefit from his influence now. We all can hold a Bible in our own hands, in our own language. Together we can all sing songs of praise to our great Savior. We are free to take the elements of Communion, and allow God’s presence to be with us as we remember His great sacrifice for us. As a pastor’s wife, I’m happy that clergy can marry!
Because of the courage and strength of his convictions, Martin Luther reformed the church for good. On this day, when we celebrate 500 years of Reformation, I have to ask myself: What am I willing to allow God to reform through me? Am I willing to stop gossip and slander when I hear it in the church? The Bible says,
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
Am I reforming the way I communicate, even stopping litte white lies?
“So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we all parts of the same body.” Ephesians 4:25 (NLT)
Am I reforming my temper, by controlling my anger and not giving the devil a foothold?
“And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” Ephesians 4:27(NLT)
Am I reforming the way I live, by being kind and loving others, the way God loves me?
“Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.“
Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)
Martin Luther was in no way perfect, and he made mistakes, just like you and I do. However, he held to his convictions, he spoke the truth of the word of God, and he feared God and God alone.
On this day, when we commemorate his courage and boldness, I pray it inspires each one of us to reform anything in our lives that does not make His truth known. I pray that we can deeply appreciate the freedoms and grace that we now experience as Christ followers. Our righteousness is by faith–by faith alone in Christ alone! Let’s celebrate that freedom!
Speak Truth Love