Two days from now – October 31, 2019, marks the 502nd anniversary of the time when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses, (a proposal for public discussion), to the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg. From that day on, the world would probably never to be the same.
I know, I know well what some of you may be thinking – Why would a baptist minister even bring this up? … It is appropriate and fitting for those who call themselves Lutherans to remember this, but for other denominations, and in this case – baptist, no need to mention it and observe it. Right? – Wrong!
His “95 Theses,” which carried across two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their works — is what sparked the Protestant Reformation. We know from history that Martin Luther did not do it alone, but when he nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany, as someone put it, „ he struck the match that lit the fire”. … The fuel for the fire has been stacking up for years, waiting for someone like Luther to apply a spark.
The theology of the Reformation can be summarized by the following phrases:
- By the Scriptures Alone / Sola Scriptura – The Bible alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith and practice.
- By Grace Alone / Sola Gratia – Salvation is proof of God’s undeserved favor; we are rescued from God’s wrath by His grace alone, not by any works we do.
- By Faith Alone / Sola Fide – We are justified by faith in Christ alone.
- By Christ Alone / Solus Christus – Salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone; no one and nothing else can save. Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross is sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to God the Father.
- To God Alone Be The Glory / Soli Deo Gloria – Salvation has been accomplished by God for His glory alone. As Christians we must always boast in Him and live our lives in His presence, under His authority, and for His glory.
„The Five Solas” are just as important today in evaluating any church and its teachings as they were in the sixteenth century.
So, this Wednesday October 31st, I encourage you my friends to take some time to remember and celebrate the beginning of what we call „The Protestant Reformation”. And as you do so, please keep in mind that we do not celebrate this because the key leaders of this movement were flawless. They were flawed men like us all, who deserve critique and correction at times. We celebrate the Reformation because the core truths recovered are timeless and are the foundation of our Christian/Baptist identity.
Last but not least, I would like to mention that one major lesson that I choose to learn from Luther and the reformers is that God’s work is accomplished through His Word. He looked at Scripture and ministry through the lens of the cross.
May God’s Word also be central in our lives and in our ministry and may we also be able to say like Luther once said – “I did nothing. The Word of God did everything!”
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16
God’s servant and yours, Pastor John