Today is the 499 anniversary of the Reformation, The day when a German monk, Martin Luther, posted his 95 theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the local community bulletin board, and Luther posted these statements to stir scholarly discussion about some of the practices he felt were wrong within the church of his day. He never intended to reject the church, or above all start a new church. He sought only to correct practices he felt were contrary to Holy Scripture. In the following years, I will say unfortunately, came the proliferation of separate Christian denominations we see today. Even so, two main treasures were restored to the Church. First, was the truth that we have our salvation by the pure grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9) And the second, was the importance of the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, being in the hands of every laymen in their own language. God’s word is our food for life. These are truths God restored to all of His people through this obscure German monk. Luther was important, but we rejoice and give praise to God for His marvelous grace.
October 31st marks the beginning of the Protestant Reformation with the posting of Luther’s 95 Theses in Wittenberg, Germany. We always include Martin Luther’s famous hymn A Mighty Fortress is our God in our Reformation celebration. That hymn is based on Psalm 46 which seems most appropriate at this time.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
We do all that we can to help those in need, and pray earnestly for families who have lost loved ones. Our hope, our strength, and our peace is always in the sovereignty of the Lord our God, truly a Mighty Fortress.
On the wall behind my desk is a saying of Martin Luther. “Truth is mightier than eloquence; the Spirit stronger than genius; faith greater then learning.” I don’t think he meant to say that eloquence, genius, and learning are not important. He was a man gifted in all three, but these are human characteristics. We often admire them in people, but we have also seen where these characteristics alone have lead groups of people and even nations in terrible destructive paths. Truth, Spirit, and faith are of God. This points to another oft quoted saying of Luther that “a peasant with the Scriptures is mightier that the Pope without them.” We look up to many great people, but one who humble, searching out God’s Word in faith, and trusting God’s Spirit for wisdom and direction, is on a far better and surer path than many great and articulate leaders.