A Poem By Martin Luther
Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God,
Naught else is worth believing.
Though all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart,
Whose Word cannot be broken.
I'll trust in God's unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever,
For though all things shall pass away,
His Word endures forever.
Reformation Day is celebrated on October 31 as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. It was on this day in 1517 that Martin Luther, a law student turned
Augustinian monk, and heir of Bishop Augustine of Hippo, climbed up the steps of Wittenberg Church on his knees, in a gesture of supreme humility,
to nail his "95 Theses” to the door of the church. Although addressed to the Pope, Luther also sent copies to the archbishop of Mainz and to the bishop of Brandenburg.
This single action would soon be heard around the world, and lead to the greatest transformation of Western society since the days of the apostles.
The reformation movement began as a protest against the prevailing practices of the Roman Catholic church. Luther, after studying the Scriptures for years, objected to the wide-spread practice of selling “indulgences”, a form of repayment for sin in this lifetime, which would then lessen the amount of time a person would have to serve in purgatory. The selling of such indulgences dates back to at least the third century of the church. These indulgences were used by greedy ecclesiastics for financial gain.
He not only opposed the pope’s attempt to sell salvation, Luther’s study of Scripture led him to oppose the church of Rome on a number of issues, including the supremacy of the Bible over church tradition and the means by which we are found righteous in the sight of God. In contrast to the extra-biblical traditions and works-based practices of Roman Catholicism, Luther called the Church back to the good news of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
Luther believed the Word of God was the supreme and only authority for the Christian faith, rather than tradition or papal decrees. In fact, his thesis included what has come to be known as the “Five Solas Of The Protestant Reformation”, which are Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, and soli Deo Gloria. These form the basic premise of salvation: it is by Scripture alone, by Christ alone, by faith alone, by grace alone, and for the glory of God alone. These five statements of the Biblical method of salvation is one of the major theological differences that separates the Protestant church from the Roman Catholic church.
As a result of his actions,
which were seen as rebellion against the Roman Catholic church, Luther was actually brought to trial before the church, and the court
tried to force him to recant. His response was a strong refusal:
“I cannot choose but adhere to the Word of God, which has possession of my conscience; nor can I possibly, nor will I even make any recantation, since
it is neither safe nor honest to act contrary to conscience! Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God! Amen.” He was accused of accused of heresy by the Pope and outlawed by the Emperor in 1521.
Luther was the influence behind other great leaders of the Reformation movement, such as John Calvin in Geneva and John Knox in Scotland. The movement continued to spread, and eventually sparked the Anabaptist movement, the forerunner of many of today's Protestant denominations. Robert Rothwell has noted, “Today, Luther’s legacy lives on in the creeds and confessions of Protestant bodies worldwide.”
In addition, Luther also believed that the Scripture should be available to every person, not just the ecclesiastical heads of the Roman Catholic church. In order to make the Scriptures accessible to the common man, Luther painstakingly translated the Bible into German. He also published numerous books and sermons of biblical teachings, and composed numerous hymns based on biblical themes. Many of his hymns are still sung today.
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