Read His Words Before Ours!
The Protestant Reformation was a movement toward Western Christianity in the 16th century. Many credit the Reformation to a document called the 95 Theses written by Martin Luther in 1517, even though there were several years separating the two events. Luther, under the Holy Spirit’s conviction through Scripture, could not abide the incongruences growing between what he knew to be true in Scripture and what he saw happening the Roman Catholic Church. Hence, the 95 Theses was birthed by a man who anchored himself firmly on the absolute truth of Scripture. He called out unbiblical practices in the Catholic Church such as selling indulgences for the purpose of absolving sin. The questions Martin Luther raised snowballed when others also questioned Catholic practices for themselves. As a result, Church as we know it today began growing like wildfire as the living and active Word of God was unleashed!
Martin Luther, born in 1483 in Germany, became not only a professor of theology, but also a monk, composer, and priest. In 1507, he was ordained into priesthood.
During his first 10 years as a priest he began questioning several Catholic teachings and practices the more he read and studied what Scripture taught.
The two main beliefs anchoring Luther’s Theses were first, the absolute authority of the Bible and second, salvation is a gift of grace with not a hint of human works attached.
Both were hot spots for Luther, but they were commonly accepted in the Catholic church.
Luther was first and foremost, a passionate follower of Jesus. As with every person who sincerely crosses the line of faith and surrenders to Christ as their Savior from sin, the more deeply you follow Jesus, the more precious His Word becomes.
This was the case for Luther. He did not set out to change the world, but the Lord used him to fuel a fire the Holy Spirit Himself had ignited through conviction and the living, active Word of God!
Because Martin loved the Lord, he loved the Church as well, seeing her as the Bride of Christ. This love fueled his adamant, biblical stance against the Church promoting and practicing falsehood. Bound by his love for the Lord, Luther would not, could not remain silent.
Some (like me!) might picture Luther, full of fiercity, storming up to the church, nailing his famous Theses in an angry way. Perhaps you see a societal giant, angrily accusing the church of sin, attacking the Catholic church while inciting others to follow him as he formed a new church. But after researching more about the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther, I see a different story.
Martin Luther was a man calling out sin in his local church body. His intent was not personal attacks, hot-headed anger, or breaking away for the purpose of doing church his way. Luther was a man of love. Love for the Savior, the Scriptures, and the Church. In fact, he loved her enough to ache longingly for her to be whole, healthy, and a stronger body, built solidly on the foundation of truth.
The 95 Theses is written in a questioning style not littered with accusation, but instead questioned from a scholarly perspective.
I see a man trying to live out the passage in Ephesians 4:11-16,
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Have you ever been in a church, or with a group of fellow believers, and notice them doing something either sinful or not glorifying to God?
What was your response?
Like me, many people stay silent when witnessing sinful practices within the Body of Christ. I have been there many times and, instead of having a loving conversation with my brothers or sisters, I shy away.
Why do I shy away?
Transparently, because I’m think of Matthew 7:3-5:
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye,
but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
I then get reflective and ask myself if I want my brothers or sisters to call out my sin.
My immediate response is, “Heck no, I want people to think I’m perfect or near perfect at least. I’ll call my own stuff out when I’m ready.”
This is sin.
Ladies, Satan knows Scripture and he knows how to twist it!
These words from Jesus are meant to bring unity within the Body, weeding out arrogant hearts who think our way is best. This was not Luther’s intent as he penned and posted his theses!
As believers, it should be our desire to foster safe relationships within the Body where we lovingly call out sin in one another so that we can grow together and be built up. (1 Peter 2:4-6)
I know I’ve grown during difficult moments of hearing the truth about my actions,
this was Luther’s heart for the church!
Sisters, let’s challenge each other to live in unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ, to call out sin with truth and grace, to love Jesus foremost, and hold high the supreme truth of Scripture in our everyday lives!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!