Martin Luther

Reformation Day has come and gone and Thanksgiving is here. In light of this we can give thanks to God for the faithful men He has blessed us with who seek to guard, protect, and deliver the church from error as much as they are able. Such a man was Martin Luther. He was born to Roman Catholic parents in Germany on November 10, 1483. His parents wanted him to become a doctor or a lawyer or to seek another high-status, high-paying occupation. Instead, Luther chose a religious vocation and became a monk. Luther was a very spiritual man, deeply concerned for his salvation. He especially struggled with assurance. He devoutly performed all his monastic duties, including sleeping on a hard bed and eating few, meager meals in the hope that he would eventually find peace with God. God used Luther’s time in the monastery to prepare him for the work that He had in store for him. In his daily Bible reading, Luther came across the following passage: ” For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith”(Romans 1:17). In light of this and similar Scripture passages, he began to see that salvation by works was impossible and that salvation by grace alone was the only possible way for us to enter Heaven. As a result of this, Luther saw how far the church of his day had fallen from Biblical teaching and he began to take issue with indulgences, purgatory and other doctrines that the church taught. Indulgences were fees paid by people in the hope that their relatives would be able to leave purgatory and enter heaven. Luther first brought his objections to such practices into the public forum when he nailed his 95 theses to church door in Wittenberg. It was not his intention to start a radical movement.  Martin Luther loved the church and  sought to reform the church from within. When the Pope excommunicated him, and Luther came to realize that such a goal would be impossible. Luther dedicated the rest of his life to furthering the reformation of the church in Germany. He was not a perfect man. He was known to be hot-headed and stubborn and not always pleasant to be around. He taught some doctrines that we disagree with.  Nevertheless, Luther did so much good for the church of Christ. He translated the Bible into the German language at a time when few people had the Bible in their own language. This translation made a significant impact on the German language, just like the King James Version did with English. Luther’s work is important for us today because he defended many truths that are under attack today such as the divine inspiration of the Bible, salvation by grace alone and many other issues that affect us as Christians. Despite his faults he is proof of what God says that “… my strength is made perfect in weakness”(II Corinthians 12:9). In other words, God uses  weak, sinful men like Luther in order to help His church grow spiritually stronger. Let us take inspiration from Luther’s life and appreciate what he did for the church!

Kevin Rau

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