“For in the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:17)
Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a great man of God. He was a former monk and professor of theology in the Catholic church. One day, thru the revelation of Romans 1:17, he became born again. He wrote that salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ alone. That brought much trouble to him from the leaders of the Catholic Church in Rome. He was ordered to come before the religious court and defend himself. In 1521 he was arrested and brought before the Holy Roman Emperor and the delegate of the Pope, that he should retract his doctrines. His accusers pointed at the pile of books that he wrote. They said that Luther was blaspheming God and insulting the Pope. Luther said that the Pope is not God. He said that salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and not by the authority of the Pope or any man.
Luther maintained that salvation was by faith alone (sola fide) without reference to good works, alms, penance, or the Church’s sacraments. On a theological level, Luther had challenged the absolute authority of the Pope over the Church by maintaining that the doctrine of ‘indulgences’ (paying money to the Church to save your soul) as authorized and taught by the Pope, was wrong. At that time, nobody who challenged the Pope escaped with his life. This was a serious danger for Luther. Some of his friends begged him to reconsider his radical position. The religious leaders warned him that if he does not recant his stand, he will be burnt alive in the public square. After his accusers spoke, Luther stood on his feet. Suddenly, a ray of sunshine fell on his face. It was like the anointing of the Holy Spirit confirming God’s servant. He referred to the Bible as his only judge. Then he spoke these unforgettable words:
“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 have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am conquered by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other! May God help me. Amen!”
Somehow, confused by what to do, they allowed him to go. After his dismissal he departed for his home in Wittenberg. However, fearing for Luther’s safety, The Prince of Germany, Frederick III sent men to fake a highway kidnapping attack and abduct Luther, hiding him away at Wartburg Castle. This is how Martin Luther survived. During his stay in the Wartburg Castle he began the translation of the Bible in German. He wrote many hymns. He married a former nun, Katharina, and they had six children. His doctrines spit the Catholic Church. This is how the Protestant churches (Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian and Lutheran) started.
If you are born again, no matter of your denomination, give thanks for the life of this great man of God, Martin Luther! To God be all the glory!
(In the painting, Martin Luther defending himself before the Royal Catholic court called the “Diet of Worms”)