Tuesday, October 31, 2017, The 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther posting "The 95 Theses" on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany; "Day of Praise"
What difference does it make? Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic monk, priest, and professor who lived in Germany. And 500 years ago today (October 31, 1517), he nailed 95 theses (statements for discussion) onto the front door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.
Why did Martin Luther do it? And who cares?
First, he did it because of the following:
• He realized that the Christian church around the world had come to have biblical, doctrinal, and theological errors that led to bad teaching and misleading practices.
• He recognized that the growing availability of paper and the invention of the printing press made the Bible itself and teaching about the Bible available to common people who previously were excluded from meaningful discussions about eternal and everlasting matters.
• He saw the sale of "indulgences" by the church of that day as a topic he could use to inform people so they wouldn't think that buying a piece of paper (an indulgence) could heal their broken relationship with God and get their dead loved ones into heaven.
• He saw the widespread corruption and immorality of religious leaders, including the common practice of simony, which was purchasing an appointment as a priest or bishop without having any qualifications for the position in order to gain monetary wealth and political power.
Second, why should we care about these things today, 500 years later? Well, we should care because what God worked through Martin Luther in Germany was what God had been working through John Wycliffe in England, Jan Hus in Bohemia, and Girolamo Savonarola in Italy. Indeed, what God worked through Martin Luther in Germany 500 years ago is what God wants to work through all who profess faith in Christ in every generation!
500 years ago, the Christian church had biblical, doctrinal, and theological errors that led to bad teaching and misleading practices. Can the same creep in today? Has it creeped in? Does your church, does my church, ever say or do anything that leads people to trust in their own good efforts more than God's most certain word and work? Holy Spirit reform us! Move us to trust in God's word and saving work through Jesus Christ alone!
500 years ago, the growing availability of paper and the invention of the printing press made the Bible itself and teaching about the Bible available to all people to discuss eternal and everlasting matters. Is God revealing new technology today to help us take the life-giving word of God in Jesus Christ to all people? Holy Spirit help us! Help us to take the good news of Jesus to the world!
500 years ago, the sale of "indulgences" by the church of that day was a topic Luther used to inform people that buying a piece of paper (an indulgence) could not heal their broken relationship with God and get their dead loved ones into heaven. Are there flimsy, "paper-like" things that people are leaning on today to heal their broken relationship with God? Do people trust their being a good person, their Bible reading, their church attendance or their bank accounts to make things right with God? Holy Spirit correct us! Help us trust that Jesus Christ alone can heal our relationship with God and that even our best efforts are a fruit of the Holy Spirit, working in us to say, "Thank you, God, for your life-giving work for me in Jesus Christ!"
500 years ago, Luther saw the widespread corruption and immorality of religious leaders to gain monetary wealth, earthly pleasure, and political power. Are there ill motives today amongst any religious leaders or institutions? Do any leaders preach to "itching ears", speaking words that tell people only what they want to hear in order to keep the seats full and the offering plates overflowing? Holy Spirit rebuke us, correct us, train us, and empower us! Lead us, Holy Spirit, to speak the full scope of God's word, including the unpopular stuff, not only in our churches but also in our homes and our marriages and our workplaces and schools and intentional, compassionate engagement of spiritually-starving people in public. Your word alone, all of it, all of your word alone, Lord, indeed Jesus Christ alone, the Living Word of God is able to show us our nakedness, our brokenness, our hunger, our thirst, our emptiness that you alone, Lord, are able to cover, heal, satisfy, quench, and fill in a way that lasts forever.
The 16th Century Reformation of the Church, which started 500 years ago today, was a work of the Holy Spirit, which, in reality, the Holy Spirit of the living God is faithfully seeking to work everyday in and through all who trust and follow Jesus!