October 31 is Reformation Day, marking the day on which Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses against the selling of indulgences on the church doors in 1517 in Wittenberg, Germany. Though there are many things that paved the way to this rather inauspicious moment, it historically marks the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
It’s encouraging to see the pastoral nature of Luther’s 95 Theses. Many of his points reflect the need for believers to live with true repentance, care for the poor, and for pastors to guard the pulpit from false teaching. He also speaks strongly against the unbiblical policies coming from the Pope in Rome.
The heart of the Reformation was about salvation. Are we justified before God through our own actions and the policies of the church or does justification come by grace alone through faith alone? I am thankful for Martin Luther. And I am thankful that I am made right with God through no effort of my own.
Below is a restating of Luther’s 95 Theses which were intended spark discussion in the fall of 1517. I’ve marked the ones that stick out to me in bold.
1. When Jesus said “repent” he meant that believers should live a whole life repenting
2. Only God can give salvation – not a priest.
3. Inwards penitence must be accompanied with a suitable change in lifestyle.
4. Sin will always remain until we enter Heaven.
5. The pope must act according to canon law.
6. Only God can forgive -the pope can only reassure people that God will do this.