By Rick Jones
Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light”— Martin Luther passionately and thoughtfully penned a list of “propositions” that his church urgently needed to discuss.
His timing was perfect. The next day, All Saints Day, (the first of November), as the belfries of the Castle Church chimed in remembrance of “the poor souls in purgatory,” men in black were set to parade down the stone paved lanes of Wittenberg.
While cool breezes whisked the last of fall’s radiant foliage from the trees, Luther’s heart beat with conviction. His hand tightly gripped his theses as he walked with determination toward the church door—a door of destiny.
As the faithful were thinking of saints and purgatory, Luther nailed his passionate plea, calling for his Church to re-think indulgences—those “get out of purgatory” tickets they were selling.
Known as “Luther’s 95 Theses for Debate,” the devoted Monk carefully and precisely enumerated his points beginning, as all Christianity begins, with the doctrine of repentance:
1. Our LORD and MASTER JESUS CHRIST, when He said Poenitentiam agite [Translated “Do Penance”] willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance…
3. It means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
After disparaging the Pope and His unscriptural doctrine of Indulgences, Luther concluded with these strong admonitions:
92. Away then with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, Peace, and there is no peace.
93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross, and there is no cross.
94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.
Luther nailed more than just “95 Theses” to that door in Wittenberg. He drove a nail through Papal absolutism that for centuries had been exacted in Rome. The world would never be the same.
Excommunicated by Rome for doubting their word, the liberated Luther found himself captivated by God’s Word. It was Sola Scriptura (By Scripture Alone) that opened his eyes to salvation Sola Fide (By Faith Alone) in Solus Christus (Christ alone).
Having translated the New Testament into the language of his German countryman, Luther set out to write a commentary. It was his introduction to Paul’s Letter to the Romans that John Wesley heard when he felt his heart “strangely warmed.” It warms my heart to read what Luther wrote:
“Faith…is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God (John 1); it kills the old Adam and makes altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and brings with it the Holy Ghost…
“Faith is a living, daring confidence on God’s grace so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. This confidence in God’s grace and knowledge of it makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all His creatures; and this is the work of the Holy Ghost in faith.”
GIVEN THE STATE OF THE CHURCH AND OUR ANXIOUS, RESTLESS CULTURE, WE ARE ONCE AGAIN RIPE FOR REFORMATION. LIKE LUTHER WE MUST NAIL DOWN OUR SCRIPTURAL CONVICTIONS WITH CONFIDENCE AND DECLARE, “HERE I STAND, I CAN DO NO OTHER. GOD HELP ME!”
HERE WE STAND!
• God’s Holy Word—the 66 books of the Old and New Testament—is infallible and inerrant.
• All who repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are justified, regenerated, initially sanctified, and saved from the penalty and power of sin.
• The very God of peace sanctifies wholly, so that the whole spirit and soul and body are preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This definite work of God’s grace renews the image of God within, purifies us of the stain of inherited depravity, and perfects the heart in love.
• The Spirit of Christ within changes the way we think, the who we love, and the what we do and the how we present ourselves. The mind of Christ, the love of Christ, and the life of Christ is our consuming passion. ◉