October 31, one of the most important days for all Protestants, since on a day like that, in the year 1517, a professor named Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of the church of all saints, Wittenberg, Germany .
Why is Protestant Reformation Day so important?
We must know this, the Catholic Church was practically the only religion, the Pope was the only one who could interpret the Holy Scriptures, in addition, there was no Bible in a language that anyone could understand and there were many doctrinal deceptions, such as salvation by works and indulgences.
Luther’s 95 theses nailed on October 31, 1517 are a harsh and direct response to the system established by the Catholic Church and the popes, there he deals harshly with the subject of indulgences, the interpretation of the Scriptures and salvation by works.
There is something to highlight about our brave reformer, and it is that he lived in a time where speaking against the words of the pope was considered “heresy”, which means that they could burn him tied to a stick as they did with John Huss.
Salvation by works
In the book on the life of Martin Luther, he tells us that while he was still a Catholic monk, he visited some of the alleged ancient works of the apostles, also a place that he had to climb on his knees repeating an Our Father for each step. This began to open the mind of our reformer, knowing that what he was doing was nothing more than vain repetition.
Then, he secretly found a Bible in a library and there he found the text that would light a flame that would start our Protestant reformation:
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Luther began to understand that this Catholic doctrine that showed salvation by works was nothing more than a contradiction in which the pope and the church found themselves, and later he would make an effort to make everyone understand that they were wrong, and show the true gospel, that we can only be saved by the works of Christ on the cross, and not by what we can do.
Indulgences and purgatory
What are indulgences? These were a means of taking money from the “faithful” for the new construction of the church temple, it was a kind of paper with a resolution. You just had to buy it and sign it for a relative who has died and “is in purgatory.” With these indulgences you could help them “go up.” The Catholic Church defined it thus:
The remission before God of the temporal penalty for sins, already forgiven, in terms of guilt, that a willing faithful and fulfilling certain conditions obtains through the mediation of the Church, which, as administrator of redemption, distributes and applies with authority the treasure of the satisfactions of Christ and of the saints.
No doubt, with the ignorance back then, many people ended up buying indulgences, and the pockets of a monk named Johann Tetzel swelled. But this situation for Martin Luther was a mere show in which the sufficiency of Christ in the salvation of men was denied.
With the “Five Solas” what was established in the Protestant reform is summarized, as five essential pillars that firmly fought against the false teachings of Catholicism.
An important piece of information is that, although in one way or another, during Luther’s time the five solas were expressed, but they were not consolidated as would be done later. They had: Sola Scriptura, which expressed that the Word of God is above customs and culture. Sola Fide, which affirms that good works are not a requirement to lead us to salvation, but only by faith and by the merits of Christ can we be saved. Sola Gratia, Christ’s death alone makes us saved.
Then they were complete with these two: Solus Christus: There is no salvation by any means other than Christ. Soli Deo Gloria: This teaches us that “only God” is worthy of all glory, no one but God is worthy of receiving glory.
After nailing the 95 theses, what happened?
This unleashed a furious persecution in which our reformer would later have to appear before the diet of Worms, where he would be forced to say that he recanted all his writings and teachings. But Luther’s response would open a before and after for Protestantism:
Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen
Before Luther, men like John Huss died tied to a stick by the Catholic Church for speaking against the false beliefs of the popes, however, they could not do the same against him. God allowed Luther’s wings to spread until he finished an enormous work: Translating the Bible into a language that everyone could understand.
They would no longer live in darkness, because the true gospel had come, the good news of salvation had come. Glory to God for the life of Luther and every man who contributed to the Protestant Reformation....