After Darkness, Light | Let it Shine
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."" John 8:12
On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany rediscovering and reaffirming the Gospel — sparking the Reformation — illuminating God's Word.
“I would never have thought that such a storm would rise from Rome over one simple scrap of paper…” — Martin Luther
In the early 16th Century the church in Rome started a slick campaign to raise money for improvements to St. Peter’s Basilica. Messengers were allowed to sell "indulgentia" or indulgences that they were told would purchase souls from purgatory; freeing them so they could move on to heaven.
During this time period most people had no access to the Bible. When they heard it read it was in Latin rather than their own native languages effectively ensuring the teachings were in line with the church's version of biblical truth. It was easy to sell the people on the slogan, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs," when they were convinced they, or already deceased loved ones, would be spared purgatorial suffering and punishment.
This did not sit well with Martin Luther, a monk who was struggling with church practices that he believed, after studying scripture, were in opposition to the Bible, ultimately leading him to write the 95 Theses. Luther's radical thoughts hammered to the Castle Church door in Wittenburg focused attention on Christ and salvation through faith alone.
"Luther developed his critique of the Roman Catholic Church out of his struggle with doubt and guilt as well as his pastoral concern for his parishioners. He longed for the hope and security that only the good news can bring, and he was frustrated with the structures that were using Christ to take advantage of people and prevent them from saving union with God. Further, Luther’s focus on the teaching of Scripture is significant, since it provided the foundation on which the great doctrines of the Reformation found their origin. Luther developed a robust notion of justification by faith and rejected the notion of purgatory as unbiblical; he argued that indulgences and even hierarchical penance cannot lead to salvation; and, perhaps most notably, he rebelled against the authority of the pope. All of these critiques were driven by Luther’s commitment, above all else, to Christ and the Scriptures that testify about him." — Justin Holcombe, "Luther's Ninety-Five Theses: What You May Not Know and Why They Matter Today."
Upon reflection, Luther's courageous action is as relevant today as it was then. It encourages us to become better Bible readers; to take advantage of the Bible printed in languages we can fully understand — to seek out the truth of scripture; the literal Word of God. It gave us the five solas — Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, glory to God alone. It provided a clearer picture of repentance, salvation, and justification reminding us our Christian lives are about being made holy; a continual transforming process in which the Gospel and its far reaching consequence is needed every moment of every day. Christ is the light that shines in this darkness in which we live and He gives us this light to shine to others (John 8:12, Matthew 5:14-16) so let it shine!
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