Today is Reformation Day. Many of my friends love history, some hate it. Many give honor to their parents generations in persecution, as should be done, but reject previous generations of Christians who found, taught, and kept the faith. Almost everyone knows about Martin Luther and the Reformation, though few realize its significance.
Where would you be without the Reformation?
Here is the truth then, if not for this historic moment where a young monk hung up “95 Theses” (a blog with 95 points, if you will) critiquing the church, you would be a Catholic, or a pagan. If God had not allowed Martin Luther (or others) to stand for the Gospel of Jesus, salvation through Christ’s sacrifice, you would be writing out a check to pay for your salvation. When all around him the “Christian culture” said “Here is $5, now give me Salvation,” Luther wrote “Hail to all those prophets who say to Christ’s people, “The cross, the cross!”
Some forty years later, he stood in the most defining moment of the last millennium of history. Before kings and tribunals, set to be condemned for the Gospel that you and I sing and rejoice about. He stood to defend the Gospel of salvation by Grace and Faith, and said his famous words:
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other. May God help me. Amen.”.
Prayer of Luther on the night before his stand
Yet this man was not a brave hero, nor a courageous champion, he was a broken man, who wept before God, as he cowered in insignificance and inability. This is Luther’s prayer, from the night before. Oh! That we would pray like this!
“Almighty, eternal God! How dreadful is the world! Behold how its mouth opens to swallow me up, and how small is my faith in You! O the weakness of the flesh and the power of Satan! If I am to depend upon any strength from this world, all is lost. O my God! Help me against all the wisdom of this world. Do this, I beg You.
The work is not mine, but Yours. I have no business here. I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world! I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace. But the cause is Yours, my Lord; and it is righteous and everlasting! Stand by me! O faithful and unchangeable God! I lean not upon man. It would be vain!
You have chosen me for this work. I know it! Therefore, O God, accomplish Your own will! Stand by me in the name of Jesus Christ, who will be my shelter and my shield, yes, my mighty fortress, through the might and strengthening of the Holy Spirit.
I am ready, even to lay down my life for this cause, patient as a little lamb. For the cause is holy. It is Your own. Though this world be filled with devils, and though my body, originally the work and creation of Your hands, go to destruction in this cause — yes, though it be shattered into pieces — Your Word and Your Spirit they are good to me still! It concerns only the body. The soul is Yours. It belongs to You and will also remain with You forever. God help me. Amen.” Source
More on the Reformation
And finally, below are some interesting links to learn more about Luther and the Reformation