“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” – Romans 1:16-17
On October 31st, 500 years ago the Reverend Martin Luther hammered his “95 Theses” to the door of Wittenberg Church. The pounding of Luther’s hammer echoed along the cobbled streets of Wittenberg, carried across the river Elbe, rolled over the hills of Upper Saxony and initiated the Protestant Reformation. Luther loved the Church and it was not his desire to separate from Rome, but to reform it. Luther wanted to incite a discussion concerning papal indulgences. As he read through Romans 1:16-17 Luther found relief from the shackles of works based theology and he desired the Church to abandon its slavish practices and allow Christians to bath in the spiritual liberty and grace afforded them by the blood of Christ.
The first line of Luther’s “95 Thesis” reads, “Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light.” Luther valued the truth and he knew the truth was found in Scripture alone and not in popes or councils.
The Apostle Paul wrote the above verses to encourage followers of Christ to willfully embrace the power and righteousness of God. The elect are justified in God through their faith, not by church membership or obeying rules. Paul desired all to accept the freedom contained in a loving relationship with the Father through the sacrifice of the Son.
When Christ was nailed to the cross he absorbed all of God’s wrath against our sins so we could freely stand before God exhibiting the perfection found only in Jesus. God requires no more work on our behalf. It is finished. Luther felt liberated by understanding it is our faith in Christ which binds us eternally to God. Any mandate created by man which adds to salvation through faith alone is an affront to God and robs Christ of glory.
“That the Creator himself comes to us and becomes our ransom – this is the reason for our rejoicing.” – Martin Luther
PRAY: Author and finisher of our faith, you have given your servants a freedom found only in you. Yet, we still seek to make our salvation about what we can do or accomplish by our own actions. Help us to embrace your gift of liberty discovered only in our faith in the sacrifices of Jesus Christ.