October 31, 1517

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
– Romans 3:28

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed….” Martin Luther 95 Theses Introduction

On Tuesday October 31st children will walk their neighborhoods and ask for free candy. However, within the Christian faith, October 31, 1517 plays a significant role in shaping the church life that we know today. This year marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg. Luther in his studies realized that many of the teachings of the Catholic Church were not supported in Scripture.

Luther took issue with the selling of indulgences. Indulgences were basically fundraisers for the Catholic Church; in one case it was raising money to build St. Peter’s Basilica. Raising money for such a large project certainly sounds reasonable, until you realize that by giving money people believed they were basically buying remission of the punishment of sin! There is even more involved in this practice, but Luther looked at this practice and knew that this is not what Scripture taught. Luther also took issue with the Pope forgiving sins (only God forgives), purgatory, and the use of sacraments (prayers, giving, fasting, and pilgrimage) as ways of forgiving sins as well. The traditions of the Catholic Church had taken on the same weight as the truth of Scripture.

Luther said that Scripture should be the only place where the church should find the basis for its practices. Luther also reintroduced the fact that salvation comes by faith alone, not by the works or sacraments that one performs. It is these two points that would begin to reform the church: Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) and Sola fida (faith alone). As you can imagine life after October 31st got rough for Luther; he faced much backlash and was even called a heretic. But he knew he had truth on his side and this moment began the period of the Protestant Reformation separating from the Catholic Church.

We gather on Sundays in part because of what Luther stood for on that day. Faith Fellowship Church stands on the two principles of salvation by faith and Scripture being the only source for practices within the church. I’d encourage you over the next week to look into Martin Luther’s actions 500 years ago and be encouraged by his seeking of truth. We realize that it doesn’t matter what your background is in the faith, all need to hear about the free gift of salvation that is offered to all through faith.

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