Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk of the 16th century. Like many other contenders of the gospel both before his time and after, he was an imperfect man whom God chose to use in mighty ways.
In 1517, Luther posted upon the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg (in the manner common to those issuing bulletin of an upcoming event or debate) the Ninety-Five Theses on the Power of Indulgences, what has commonly become known as The Ninety-Five Theses. The contents of his theses challenged the teaching of the Roman Church at that time. The century before the Reformation was marked by widespread disillusionment with the abuse of the leaders in the Roman Church with its false teachings on the selling of indulgences, the treasury of merit, purgatory, salvation through good works, and the authority of the pope. Reaction to Luther’s Theses was immediate and strong, leading to his excommunication from the Roman Church and the eventual birth of the Protestant Reformation. This Reformation was more than just to a protest against church-wide corruption. It is also hailed as the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification—salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Luther’s historically important defense of the gospel is noted and celebrated annually on 31 October, Reformation Day.
A short few years later (in 1520), the pope issued a bull decree, calling Luther’s teaching poisonous. He demanded that Luther recant in 60 days or be excommunicated. Instead of acquiescing this request, Luther publicly burned the pope’s bull decree.
Luther would have normally been executed for his actions; however, Friedrich the Wise demanded a hearing before a German court. In 1521, Luther was summoned to the town of Worms to appear before Charles V, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. Luther was commanded to recant of all his teachings against the Roman Church. Luther requested one day to think through his position. After one night of prayer and pleading with God, Luther returned to the Diet of Worms and declared the following:
Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, plain and unvarnished: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they often err and contradict themselves, I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. May God help me. Amen.
[This post is adapted from the BLB commentaries page]
benning saysOctober 31, 2011 at 4:21 am
And that’s how it began … 😀
Diane saysOctober 31, 2011 at 4:31 am
Praise God for brave and godly men who rediscovered the truths of the Scripture alone, Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone and that God alone should get all the glory. Truths buried for years. We can learn from his example.
Rick saysOctober 31, 2011 at 4:31 am
Hear, Hear!! Let’s all, as Paul said, bring into captivity every one of our thoughts to the obedience of Christ.
Lynn saysOctober 31, 2011 at 5:01 am
Persecution follows all true men of God…not praises and this man, he carried his cross well.
Joh 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Tommy Privette saysOctober 31, 2011 at 5:09 am
If Christians today would stand up for Christ and not back down we would not be where we are today . We would not have the trouble we have in this country or others. Today’s Christians are submissive and allow themselves and their beliefs to be run over by non believers. Look at what’s happening in our country today. We need to stand up for Jesus and the word of God. It’s not too late. His word says if we turn back to Him and seek Him, He will heal our land. Pray people, Pray now, Pray without ceasing.
cliff saysOctober 31, 2011 at 5:34 am
Satan has tried from the beginning to destroy the Church. We must remember that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but and powers and principalities, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. That fact has not changed only his tactics.
Martin Luther stood for the truth of the scriptures and suffered persecution because of it. Today the same thing is happening. Many of the protestant denominations that sprung up because of him have turned there backs to the truth and are adopting worldly ways, not to mention the numerous cults that flourish.
Praise the Lord, I read the end of the book and Satan is a big loser, but sadly many many will love the darkness and will not turn to Jesus.
Jeremy Morris saysOctober 31, 2011 at 5:56 am
In light of what Cliff wrote concerning “protestant denominations” I was wondering if someone might give me an understanding of the current Lutheran practice of “Confirmation”. What is it all about and what kind of scriptural support does it have if any? I moved to a predominantly Lutheran region about a year ago and this is a common practice. Thanks for any help.
Debby Stevens saysNovember 8, 2011 at 5:08 am
I’ve heard some about the practice of confirmation, and have been told it often leads to false assurance of salvation. So I would imagine it relies too heavily on man’s ability to correctly discern spiritual maturity, rather than on God’s. It is true that there is some basis for thinking man has some ability to discern the spiritual maturity of another, because for an example, it says, “By their fruits ye shall know them..” – Matthew 7:16. But God is the one who knows people the best, and we should be careful to remember this, and also realize that it is possible for people to hide their true spiritual condition. And religiousity in itself, nor good works, are perfect proof of so-called “Christians” true spiritual conditions. Think of how Judas was one of the disciples, and how no one except Jesus knew his true character. And think of how the Pharisees commonly assumed they were going to heaven, but as Jesus pointed out numerous times – they were not – they hadn’t yet reached full repentance of sins. That’s why Jesus called them “hypocrites.” Look the verses in the bible using “hypocrite.” It is wise to teach ones to be in the habit of “examining themselves, to see whether they be in the faith” – II Corinthians 13:5. And relying on prayer (Psalms 139:23) and God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12) to help them see their mirror image as correctly as possible, rather than too much on any man’s opinion of them. James 1:24. While being under preaching and teaching tends to be an important part of discipleship, disciples need to be encouraged to be reading and studying their Bibles by themselves, as well.
Rev. Berry saysOctober 31, 2011 at 7:02 am
What bravery exhibited from this man because he had an unshakeable conviction to what the scriptures said! This is what I will celebrate on October 31st instead of ghouls and goblins.
Susanna Smith saysOctober 31, 2011 at 8:02 am
Praise God, Truth Prevails! Amen, too bad people don’t rejoice it Truth, October 31st isn’t about and should not be about ghost, except the Holy Ghost!
Pat G saysOctober 31, 2011 at 10:03 am
Let us always remember Luther was not against the Catholic people. He was against the corrupted leadership.
Some of us Protestants have taken the Reformation further than was Luther’s intent.
My good I have heard a few Protestants (personally) who state Catholics were and are not Christians.
Luther was taking the Catholic Pope, Bishops, and Priests to task; as Jesus overturned the tables at the Temple.
Saints (capital S) such as the Apostles and the Early Church Fathers surely received their crowns of glory.
Luther’s aim was to bring back the teachings of the First and Second Century Christians to all Christians in his present day.
Please do a study on Polycarp – the Bishop of Smyrna. The “Angel” of the Church of Smyrna in Revelation. Polycarp the last of the Church Fathers who died. He was the student of St. John and knew many people who had met Jesus including many of the Apostles.
Polycarp the Heretic Fighter believed Jesus. He acknowledged Christ as Our High Priest. He remained humble with all his resolve having been lead by the Holy Spirit to endure.
There he stood…
in the midst of flames protected by the Angels. The flames of the Holy Spirit’s Living Water put out the flames. He died by the hands of the Roman gentiles with a dagger thrust. He died as those who proclaimed themselves Christians yet followed corrupted teachings of false prophets and Jewish radicals watched with pleasure.
Read the account of Polycarp’s martyrdom. He fought heresy as well as infidels with the patience and endurance of the Saints who preceded him. Polycarp’s brethren wrote a first hand account.
Let us all pray should we be confronted to renounce Our Savior can stand. We have Christian martyrs today who stand. They will not renounce God. See the Voice of the Martyrs Website.
Reformation Day is also All Saints’ Day.
I am humbly speaking to myself also.
Praise the Lord God Almighty without ceasing.
I pray I can withstand the fiery darts of Satan through my Savior, Jesus Christ alone.
David Edward saysOctober 31, 2011 at 12:52 pm
Martin Luther was not only against Catholics, we was more merciless on the Jews than the Third Reich.
Martin Luther proposed seven measures of “sharp mercy” that German princes could take against Jews: (1) burn their schools and synagogues; (2) transfer Jews to community settlements; (3) confiscate all Jewish literature, which was blasphemous; (4) prohibit rabbis to teach, on pain of death; (5) deny Jews safe conduct, so as to prevent the spread of Judaism; (6) appropriate their wealth and use it to support converts and to prevent the Jews’ practice of usury; (7) assign Jews to manual labor as a form of penance.
How this man is held up as a pillar of moralism is beyond me. He was a racist, pure and simple.
Jeremy Morris saysOctober 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm
I had no idea this was the case. Where did you get this information from…is it common knowledge? Forgive my ignorance. I would have to agree that this is a bit more than a “shortcoming” if this is all true!
AS I think about this…I’m not sure that Luther is looked at as a “pillar of moralism”, but rather a “pillar of reformation” when it comes to the false doctrine within the Roman Catholic church.
steve mackey saysOctober 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm
Do you have any historical documentation or references to back up any of those “seven measures” David” ?
Tom Miller saysNovember 1, 2011 at 6:20 am
To David, Jeremy and Steve, all of us are racists in some measure simply because we are sinners. Luther was no different, captured by the information he had in his time which was spurious to say the least. Is it really any different today? Are we so clearly informed today as to not make mistakes in judgment only to find out later that we didn’t have all the information? I think not.
I am not excusing Luther’s comments, and none of us lived in the times that Luther did suffering from the same maladies that he did reacting to the information that he had. We Christians today make the same false conclusions and base those decisions on false info with so called good intentions. I have done and said much worse in my day only to find that I was way off base and should have been quiet until I had looked at things from Gods Word and tried to see things from His perspective, His eternal perspective.
So to say something like what Luther said about the Jews was worse than anything the third reich did is extreme to say the least. After reading an article in Christianity Today on the web, (just google seven measures of sharp mercy Martin Luther) read the whole article, it may help your judgment somewhat about a flawed Martin Luther who did at least one great thing.
Pat G saysOctober 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm
> Change > “My good” to “My goodness gracious 😉
If you would like to learn more about the Early Church of which Luther and other reformers drew their strength…
See the Christian Ethereal Library:
ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus
Chapter VI.—Several other martyrs.
Chapter IX.—Examples of the saints.
Chapter XVI.—Christ as an example of humility.
Chapter XVII.—The saints as examples of humility.
Introductory Note to the Epistle of Polycarp to the
Chapter I.—Praise of the Philippians.
The Martyrdom of Polycarp
Chapter I.—Subject of which we write.
Chapter II.—The wonderful constancy of the martyrs.
These and other chapters Luther, Calvin, and other monks would have read the above.
Pat G saysOctober 31, 2011 at 10:46 am
* Joh 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. *
Thank you poster above reminding us.
Read about some martyrs, contenders for the faith in these starting hunt locations. The communion of Saints and saints.
Martyrdom of the Apostles
The History of Early Christianity
Carmen saysOctober 31, 2011 at 11:24 am
So inspiring!! What an influence one person can have “in the name of truth”!
“Saved by God’s unending grace by faith”! What freedom!!
Jeremy Morris saysOctober 31, 2011 at 11:47 am
Does anybody have any facts as to what the Lutheran practice of “Confirmation” is all about. Where is originated from, what one who is “confirmed” means, what biblical basis it has?
Debbie G saysOctober 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm
This is a great movie. Entitled simply “Luther” it gives an accurate version of the life of Martin Luther. As expected, it does not include his shortfalls (antisemitism). But is a great way to see what God accomplished through Martin Luther.
Jeremy, I cannot personally help you with Lutheran confirmation but I see it as similar to the Methodist. It is a time, after lessons and self reflection, that a young adolescent is allowed to speak in a ceremony of his personal beliefs of Christ. Like many rituals – it may or may not be to each individual what it was intended to be – a deep personal commitment to follow Christ. That is still between each man and God. Just my view. I’ll be watching for a more account.
Pat G saysOctober 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm
Luther put his life on the line that Reformation Day so long ago as did and do martyrs.
Psa 56:11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
Trinity saysOctober 31, 2011 at 7:22 pm
This is so very incredible and encouraging! YAY!
Pat G saysOctober 31, 2011 at 7:47 pm
I would suspect Reformation Day is not just about Luther’s act of nailing his theses to the door but also a day to honor all martyrs. Those who did put their lives on the line for Jesus.
Let us recall those who lost their lives and those today have lost their lives or are in jeopardy.
The communion of the saints. The life ever lasting.
Joshua Stirnemann saysOctober 31, 2011 at 10:31 pm
It is important that Christians today understand that the same error exists in the church world today and will remain until individuals singularly seek God for truth without a crutch on denominational certainty.
Today, Christians read the Bible and discount the word of Christ so that they might strengthen their doctrines. Men are not eternal beings, but the church world believes that they are. God is not a tyrant that He should need eternal torture to force people to love Him; it’s the goodness of God that promotes men to repentance, which is merely a man’s change to acknowledge God’s supremacy and kindness by preferring God’s first begotten son, Christ Jesus.
Jesus was with the Father before the foundations of the world and yet the church world promotes false doctrine and perpetuates mystical teachings of the Godhead. Christ is the first born of God, and Christ loves his Father. The church world has worked hard for hundreds of years to hide this greatest of all truths. Not all Christians are deeply seeded in this worst of all lies, but still false doctrine is prevalent.
‘Spiritual authority’ is championed and men promote themselves as ‘spiritual fathers’, even calling themselves such from their pulpits. Today, we may not have the mid-evil practices but we most assuredly have a massive church world machine that champions false doctrine and promotes fleshly systems for serving God above spiritual existence in the name of God’s son, Christ Jesus.
Feel free to visit http://www.isGodlove.com for more truth. This is a link to a Facebook page that promotes men in the true gospel and boldly points out the quasi-gospel that the church world promotes today and has promoted historically. Reformation is not finished. Until God’s children lay aside all loyalty to organized religion, there is more to be said about the false doctrines that can only remain when perpetuated by systems of man. Rest in the spirit that you have received and live to do the Father’s will as did Jesus when he was in the flesh, and as Christ always does.
Mat 26:39 KJV – And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt].
Jeremy Morris saysNovember 1, 2011 at 5:22 am
What “mystical teachings of the Godhead” are you talking about? Are you implying the doctrine of the Trinity?
Joshua Stirnemann saysNovember 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm
Not implying, explicitly calling all doctrines that disregard the sincerity of Christ (and make his Father’s testimony out to be a lie) as the worst of all lies. Yes, the trinity and oneness teachings are mystical interpretations that are not of God. Check out the web page for more truth. The church world is rich in numbers and poor in the knowledge of the truth because they are affected poorly by crafty teachers.
1Jo 5:9 KJV – If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
2Ti 4:3 KJV – For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
cliff saysNovember 1, 2011 at 2:12 am
Eph. 2: 8&9 For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God and not of works lest any man should boast.
Romans: 10: 9 to 11 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame
Satan sure likes to stir the pot.
Who has the truth? Everyone says they have the truth?
Many men will die for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know is not true. Jesus died for what He knew is truth. His disciples also died for what they knew is truth.
If the above scripture is not truth, don’t look for me in heaven. You see, I know the real me. “Truth” be said I don’t have an ounce of worthiness, apart from the shed blood of Jesus.
The Scripture says Jesus is “Emanuel, that is God with us”.
As a person who likes to keep things simple that is what “I hang my hat on”.
Joshua Stirnemann saysNovember 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm
1Jo 5:5 KJV – Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
Joshua Stirnemann saysNovember 2, 2011 at 5:22 pm
None of the words I posted are meant to exclude anyone from the body of Christ, nor can they. Also, they were not exerted to take anything from you but to parallel the witness of God that you have received by your faith in God’s son. Be promoted in Christ; also, God is in me and you by our faith in the first begotten son of God; therefore, the spirit of God is in the world and with men because God has left His children in the world.
Jhn 15:16 KJV – Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
Jhn 15:26 KJV – But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
Jhn 17:15 KJV – I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
Jhn 17:16 KJV – They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Jhn 17:17 KJV – Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Jhn 17:18 KJV – As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
Jhn 17:19 KJV – And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Jhn 17:20 KJV – Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
Jhn 17:21 KJV – That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Jhn 17:22 KJV – And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
Jhn 17:23 KJV – I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Jhn 17:24 KJV – Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
Jhn 17:25 KJV – O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
Jhn 17:26 KJV – And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Howard Simkins saysNovember 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm
In the begining was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God……..and the Word was made flesh.
I don’t know if I’ll ever understand the triune nature of our God, maybe in heaven.
Joshua Stirnemann saysNovember 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm
The lies of men have left believers like yourself saying they don’t know if they’ll ever know the nature of God. But be assured, Jesus was with the Father before the foundation of the world. All things were made by Christ Jesus, for it pleased the Father that in His son would all fullness dwell. The Jews crucified Christ because “their God didn’t have a son.” Today, Christians cling to mystic doctrines and stray from the rock, Christ Jesus the son of the living God.
Jhn 20:17 KJV – Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and [to] my God, and your God.
Howard Simkins saysNovember 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm
Joshua, I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t care to know or even think I cannot understand the Biblical God. I look forward to spending eternity worshiping my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
But the scripture teaches that there is only one God. The scripture describes God in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Spirit. We see each of these persons described in scriputure as God. Do I understand exactly how that can be? No. Am I comfortable knowing that my finite mind cannot understand the infinite God? Yes. You may think me silly or shallow, but I came out of a religion that tries to answer all the questions we can have about God, creation, man, eternality of man, who Jesus is, how the Holy Spirit can have personality, on and on. Trying to answer these questions outside of scripture leads to some very interesting musings about all of these questions.
Scripture tells us the Jewish religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus because of the works he did. Works only God could do, works that threatened the hold they had on their people. Scripture tells us they sought to all the more to kill Him, because he made Himself equal with God. Read John 5 :14 and following verses. Jesus has all authority because He is fully God, authority to execute judgement because he is fully human. The earliest herisies always dealt with either the humanity or divinity of Jesus. If Jesus is fully God and seperate from God then we have two Gods. There is only one God. If a person believes Jesus was only a man, I don’t think a person can consider him or herself a Christian.
Our faith hinges on who we believe Jesus Christ is, what he did, and what that means. I am a relatively new Christian but I do understand the importance of having the right Jesus. “who do men say that I am?”
Pat G saysNovember 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm
1Pe 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Joshua Stirnemann saysNovember 2, 2011 at 5:11 pm
1Jo 2:22 KJV – Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
Jhn 5:43 KJV – I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
If a being called himself “Jesus,” and he claimed to be God, would you worship him? I hope your answer is no, but many are deceived by false doctrine that is not built on the rock of God’s son. The body of Christ is the brethren of Christ. We are even now his siblings, and we fellow him (Jesus, our only high priest) to God forever.
Jhn 14:28 KJV – Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come [again] unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
As said again and again, many do not believe the witness of Christ or of the Father, who testifies of His son.
2Pe 1:17 KJV – For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Joshua Stirnemann saysNovember 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm
In case people don’t know, you can click the hyperlink that is my name, “Joshua Stirnemann.” There are many more writings on our page.
Please don’t be turned off by the simple truth that I’ve shared. The enemy has established doctrinal certainty in the church world and caused division among us all. Today, God is calling us to simple faith in His son. There are so many false doctrines that the church world is kept in by a spiritual cloud of false doctrine. Rest in the knowledge of Christ Jesus, the anointed, first born of God (SENT by God and with God before the foundations of the world).
1Pe 1:3 KJV – Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Jo 5:13 KJV – These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Susan saysOctober 31, 2015 at 6:06 am
Chris thank you for sharing this. I have been asked before about reformation day and did know what it was. This article is right on.
Susan saysOctober 31, 2015 at 6:08 am
Chris, thank you for sharing. GOD bless ya richly.