On October 31, we celebrate Reformation Day. It was on October 31, 1517, that an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther nailed his 93 Thesis to the Castle Church door of Wittenberg, Germany. Luther had hoped that these would be a platform for theological discussion and debate to bring about needed reforms of the Church, concerning the sale of indulgence, forgiveness of sins, and eternal salvation.
Dr. Luther had arrived in a unique time in Church history. The leaders of the Church were well educated and could read and write, most especially Latin, the language of the Church. Many of the common people could neither read nor write, most especially Latin. Also, superstition ruled the day, and not the Holy Scriptures, resulting in people living and doubts and fears about forgiveness of their sins and eternal salvation, and God. Someone had to do something. That someone was Dr. Martin Luther.
Dr. Luther himself had wrestled and struggled with teachings and practices of his day. Dr. Luther had no problem with needing faith in Jesus as Savior in order to be saved. The struggle was with an open ended system of good works done by man, which added to the work of Christ done in His death and resurrection, to help pay for sins not confessed or absolved. The open ended system caused a big question to arise: How do I know when I have said and done enough good things to have my sins forgiven and paid for, and to be saved? Dr. Luther did many things in order to do and say enough good works, including: whipping himself, fasting frequently, and praying for long periods of time without sleep. In the end, he still wondered if it all was enough, without an answer.
The Church realized that Dr. Luther was gifted in the languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. So, the Church made Dr. Luther a Teacher of the Church. This resulted in Dr. Luther teaching on books of the Bible including: Romans, Galatians, and the Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul. In the midst of this, Dr. Luther kept finding verses of the Bible such as Ephesians 2:8+9: “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” There was the answer, right where it always had been. It was in God’s holy Word. This is what we celebrate on Reformation Day, October 31.
Dr. Luther originally posted his 95 Thesis on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, in order to bring about theological debate and discussion. In the process, the leaders of the Church became angry with Dr. Luther, excommunicated him, and judged him to be a heretic. In the process, because of what Dr. Luther did, a new denomination arose, called “Lutherans.”
In 1661, Elector John George II of Saxony, standardized the custom of observing October 31, as a day to celebrate the posting of Dr. Luther’s 95 Thesis. This day has now become Reformation Day. This is what we celebrate on October 31.
Lord’s richest Blessings Pastor Brad Rick