Reformation Day

Today is Reformation Day. We had a homeschoolers' get-together the other day, and once, again, a huge thanks to Mary and her kids for the effort and research they put into making our day fun and hugely informative.

I'll post photos of our day in tomorrow's post. But for today, I want to think of Martin Luther, who, under God's hand, was instrumental in bringing the truth of God's word to so many.

Poor Martin Luther.

Like so many others, Martin Luther was trying to earn his way into heaven by his 'good works'.  You may already know that he became a monk following a terrifying experience he had one night as he returned from home to the university in Erfurt, where he was studying Law. As the thunder and lightening raged around him, the terrified Martin prayed to Saint Anne and promised to become a monk, if she would spare his life.

And become a monk he did. That part was easy: what wasn't easy for Martin was finding peace with God. Desperate to earn his way to heaven, and to have peace through the knowledge he was heaven-bound, Martin caused himself great suffering. He would endure freezing cold; he would suffer hunger (almost to the point of killing himself); he would beat himself until the blood ran. He suffered all this, believing sufferings here on earth would both sanctify him, and lessen his sufferings in Purgatory (a place, believed by Roman Catholics, where souls are cleansed by suffering before becoming fit for heaven).

Poor Martin Luther.

All this suffering, and yet no peace.

Martin would speak to the priests constantly. He would confess all the sins he was aware of. 

Still no peace. 

He would just have left the confessional, when he'd remember another sin he hadn't confessed. Back to the priest he'd go. Martin's problem was that all he did was 'coming short of the glory of God', and so all he did was sin. How could he ever reach the end of his confession? 

How could we? The greatest commandment says to 

'love the Lord thy God with all your heart, your 
mind, your soul, your strength'

Who of us can say we have ever, for one moment, loved the Lord with all of our being perfectly. Of course, we cannot, and so there must be some other way of salvation - otherwise we're all condemned to a lost eternity.

Never could Martin's works or sufferings have saved him.

Poor Martin.

As he read his Bible one night, he read these words:

"For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.! (Eph 2: 8, 9)

Through his studying of Scripture, Martin finally had his heart and his eyes opened to see that our 'good works' are as filthy rags, but we have, in Christ, HIS righteousness. This is our only hope.

Mary, our host, had a perfect illustration of what Martin Luther had to go through. Even after he was brought alive by the work of the Holy Spirit, he was, in her words, like Lazarus who, having been brought alive by the Saviour, was still bound tightly in the grave clothes. 

Martin's 'grave clothes' of works, of tradition, and of superstition had to be taken away. Bit by bit, God's words of

"The just shall live by faith" 

echoed in his heart and mind, until finally the last of the binding grave clothes were torn away, and Martin Luther had true peace.

Poor Martin Luther? Not a bit of it! He had the liberty of the Gospel. He was RICH!

He had the righteousness of Christ; the peace of God, which passes all understanding; he was safe for time and for eternity.

And so, on this Reformation Day, I give thanks for the peace my Saviour has given me. I give thanks that my salvation is by grace alone, that it is the gift of God, and not of works. I give thanks that, because it is God's work, it can never be undone. And I pray for those who are in spiritual bondage, still believing they can do something to earn God's favour.

"It is the gift of God...."


  1. AMEN! We are celebrating Reformation Day as well! Our church has a 'gym night' (that is mostly to avoid the halloween scene) but we always invite people over after that to watch the movie "Martin Luther". And we usually have some reading of the 95 theses. But, as you so aptly put it, we are mostly grateful to the Lord for our FREE gift of salvation!

  2. Poor Martin Luther indeed! I grew up in the Lutheran tradition (5th generation, at least) but I was saved outside of it, and do not worship there as an adult.

    Martin Luther gave us so much that was good, but the same as with so many Christian leaders - including Biblical Patriarchs - was deeply flawed.

    The one aspect of his life that casts the deepest shadow on his accomplishments for me is his deeply rooted anti-semitism. Initially, Luther advised kindness toward the Jews in that Jesus was Born a Jew, but only with the aim of converting them to Christianity. When his efforts at conversion failed, he grew increasingly bitter toward them, and later wrote things about them so vile and hateful that the Nazis cited his works to justify their actions!

    It would be easy to excuse him by saying he was a product of his culture. But how could the one who advocated "sola scriptura" read the book of Romans and maintain that attitude?

    Thank God for His Grace AND mercy, but it is troubling.

  3. I love the work that God did in Martin Luther. But I cannot love him; he hated the Jews.

    Grateful for the reformation heritage we share!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this Reformation Day post with us! You are, indeed, a HUGE blessing to me and others as well! Blessings!


  5. Thank you. I really enjoyed this.


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