Saturday, January 21, 2017


Reformation 500 WEEK 4: Martin Luther’s Conversion
     Martin Luther (1483-1546) was born at Eisleben, Germany, and grew up a pious catholic in a world whose headlines featured such monumental people as Columbus, Cortez, Machiavelli (1469-1527), Michelangelo (1475-1564), and Copernicus (1473-1543).
     In 1505 Luther was shocked by the sudden death of his friend, who was killed in a duel, or struck dead by lightning at Luther’s side. Shortly afterward, he was overtaken by a violent thunderstorm near Erfurt, and was so frightened that he fell to the earth and cried out, “Help, beloved Saint Anna! I will become a monk.” He became a monk, in spite of the bitter grief and anger of his father.
     At the monastery at Erfurt, Luther “took the monk’s habit in 1506 during a ceremony which culminated in Luther’s prostrating himself before the abbot. Ironically this was over the very slab that covered the grave of a principal accuser of reformer John Huss” (Stephen Nichols, Martin Luther, p.28).
     In the monastery, Luther “lived a life of strict asceticism. With all his might he tried to earn salvation by his good works. He cheerfully performed the humblest tasks. He prayed and fasted and chastised himself even beyond the strictest monastic rules. He wasted away until he looked like a skeleton.... He was oppressed with a terrible sense of his utter sinfulness and lost condition, and this cast him into the deepest gloom of black despair. No matter how hard he tried, never, it seemed to him, had he done enough to earn salvation” (Kuiper, The Church in History, 162). 
     On May 2, 1507, Luther was ordained to the priesthood, and said his first mass. “He was so overwhelmed by the solemnity of offering the tremendous sacrifice for the living and the dead that he nearly fainted at the altar” (Schaff, 7:125).
     In 1510, Johann Von Staupitz, Luther’s spiritual father, sent Luther to Rome, hoping that the Holy City would help him make his peace with God. Luther “ascended on bended knees the twenty-eight steps of the famous Scala Santa (said to have been transported from the Judgment Hall of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem), that he might secure the indulgence attached to this ascetic performance since the days of Pope Leo IV. in 850, but at every step the word of the Scripture sounded as a significant protest in his ear: ‘The just shall live by faith’ (Rom. 1:17)” (Schaff, 7:129).
     After he returned from Rome to Germany, Staupitz sent Luther to study and teach at the university of Wittenberg (in Saxony). “He pondered night and day over the meaning of ‘the righteousness of God’ (Rom. 1:17), and thought that it is the righteous punishment of sinners,” but he finally realized “that it is the righteousness which God freely gives in Christ to those who believe in Him” (Schaff, 7:122). The sinner is justified by faith alone, without works of law (Romans 3:28). Good works are not the cause of salvation but the fruit of salvation. “Here I felt,” he said, “that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.”

     Luther finally had peace as he realized that salvation was earned on his behalf by Jesus Christ and therefore cannot be earned through good works, penance, or indulgences.                   “Now,… where did I put my pen.”

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Here is a link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation500 Martin Luther's Conversion

Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world. 

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