Martin Luther Stirred the Pot! Any body ever stir the pot in your life? Maybe it was a bully at school, or that annoying person at work. Or maybe you have experienced a disturbance in your inner self. It’s something that’s bothering you, but you don’t know exactly what it is.
That’s what was going on with Martin Luther. You probably remember him as the one who started the protestant reformation, the founder of the Lutheran movement. I think of him as a very troubled Roman Catholic priest, who came face-to-face with the grace of God.
Martin Luther nearly struck by lightening
In 1505 he was nearly struck by lightning during a thunderstorm, and believe me, it got his attention. He told his father he was terrified by death and divine judgment, so he decided to become a monk and joined up with the Augustinian friars. His dad was furious because he wanted Martin to be a lawyer… but God had other plans.
Martin Luther was ordained a priest in 1507, earned bachelors in theology 1508 and a doctorate in 1512. However, despite his excellent education, he suffered spiritual distress.
Luther wanted to please God, but got no sense that God was even paying attention to him. He was trying to please an angry God. That was his view, as he firmly believed that he had to do something to gain favor, or at least work his way into acceptance.
But he learned that nothing he was doing, or would ever do, would be enough. He was missing the mark completely. His superior, Johan Von Staupitz, decided that Luther should teach. That would give him a service avenue to pursue and perhaps offer Luther some relief from the torment.
Martin Luther starts to read the Bible
To teach a religious class he had to prepare. To prepare, he had to read the Bible. He read Paul‘s letter to the Galatians. Luther could not get around God’s Word. He came face-to-face with God’s grace. That opened up doors of understanding. Here we go… The Bible didn’t agree with the teachings of the Pope or the Catholic Church?
That letter to the Galatians had a profound impact on Luther and it has as much impact today when we choose to read it. Here was Paul, talking NOT ONLY to believers in the first century, but to all in Luther’s time as well. Fifteen hundred years later, Paul’s words were as true then as they were when they were first penned. And they are true today.
The Galatian church had swayed from their faith in Christ, to a works-based belief system. Paul went right after them, and it was as though he were speaking only to Luther.
Paul admonishes the Galatians for works-based beliefs
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish?
After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing — if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galatians 3:1-5)
Luther realized that we are saved by grace
It’s always been man’s foolishness, bucking the authority of God. From Old Testament days to Luther’s time, to the present, man has always tried to fashion God in his own image. The creation has always tried to take credit away from the Creator.
Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD. (Isaiah 26:10)
95 issues nailed to the church door
In 1517, Luther wrote down 95 subjects he wanted to discuss with the church. He nailed those topics to the door of the church. Luther did not expect a local to copy it down, and give it to a printer for publication.
Luther wanted a discussion, a debate, not an uprising. But the Thesis really stirred the pot. Among so many points of disagreement, Luther determined that man’s salvation was dependent on grace alone, faith alone and Scripture alone.
That is—the grace of God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the inerrant and authority of the Bible. Church teaching was meaningless. The Pope, highly exalted by the church, was not the final authority.
Luther’s conclusions to his study were completely rejected. Long story short, by 1521, the Catholic church and Pope Leo X had heard enough. Luther was excommunicated. Paul’s words to the Galatians were ignored by the church.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.(Galatians 1:6-7)
What? No indulgences? No buying your way out of purgatory?
Luther translated the Bible into German
Luther translated the Bible from Latin into German, so people could actually read it for themselves and not have to rely only on what the priest told them. It’s amazing what happens next! When people read the Bible, pray about it, ask questions and share with other believers.
Bible began to be translated into many different languages
Over the next century, scholars would translate from the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, as the translation from the Latin was not enough.
There was backlash against the Roman Catholic Church that caused unintended consequences. Luther did not want this. There was social upheaval, priests were murdered, increased violence that was completely against Luther’s desires.
But God used this for His purposes. His GRACE, like a limitless powerful magnet, would draw people to FAITH.
Grace draws us to God
What is grace? Unmerited favor? That’s a good Sunday School explanation. Or is grace a powerful, liberating force that draws people to God?
We cannot fathom the power and majesty of God. He is perfect…He is holy…how do you get close to that? In the ultimate show of grace, God sent His Son to us.
The Christ came to offer Himself as a ransom for may, giving up His life on the cross for our sins. It is by faith that we claim His gift. We are saved by God’s. The church at the time argued against this. In Paul’s time, it was the Jewish authorities.
Jews argued against being saved by faith
If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!
If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2: 17-21)
Many still stray from the truth
The church back then, and the church in too many cases now, strays from the truth of the Gospel. Men and women put their own ideas ahead of God’s, although they will say that they do things in the name of God.
Grace is liberating. I’m not saying to go against your church, but I do encourage you to read the Bible for yourself and search for answers.
Christ sets us free and we live in freedom
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.
You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:1-6)
God reaches out to us with His love and grace
Luther discovered God’s grace. Today, God reaches out to us, an act of grace, to bring us to Him. His grace and His peace be with you all.