Today marks the 495th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation begun by Martin Luther and his now famous posting of his 95 theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg. Luther chose this particular day, not because it was Halloween as we know it in the USA, but because it was the eve of the church holiday All Saints Day and his theses were his attempt to guide the straying Roman church back to the Scriptural truths the saints who would be celebrated the next day had died for.
While his boldness and conviction of Scriptural truth gave rise to much more than it is likely that he could have ever imagined, it was certainly not his intention to do so. Still, when it became obvious that the Roman church had no intention of mending its ways, Luther did not shrink from had he had begun but, rather, with the strength given by the Holy Spirit continued to boldly preach and confess the truth of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, and Sola Gratia—Scripture alone, Faith alone, and Grace alone by which man is saved from sin, not by his own reason or strength but by the grace of God through the perfect life, death by crucifixion, and raising from the dead his son Jesus Christ. Neither indulgences, human will, nor any earthly thing can provide this precious salvation. This is what Martin Luther rediscovered through reading the Holy Bible and took the Gospel of salvation from the exclusive realm of priests and provided it to all sinners by translating the Latin Bible into German. This is the basis of the Lutheran reformation–other “reformations” now termed Protestant occurred later in time.
Besides a scholar, Martin Luther was also a skilled composer, writing a number of notable hymns including A Mighty Fortress is Our God and From Heaven Above to Earth I come. Along with these hymns and many more the Lutheran worship service is one of liturgy–scriptural readings and singing that hearken back to the earliest days of the Christian Church–with prayer, preaching, and signing.
From the Reformation came the Lutheran Confessions, most famously the Augsburg Confession and later the Book of Concord and a number more (see left sidebar of the Book of Concord link). Martin Luther famously wrote his Small Catechism which most likely every Lutheran confirmand has memorized prior to confirmation (the confirmation of instruction in Holy Scripture and Luther’s Small Catechism given before one may partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion in the Lutheran Church). He also wrote a Large Catechism which is a far more in depth treatment of the six chief parts of Christian doctrine.
Martin Luther’s boldness in faith set in motion a chain of events that continues to this day. I am thankful to God for placing him in a critical time in history. Would it always be that faithful servants be placed in this sinful world to preach the Gospel in it truth and purity!