Have you ever had a turning point moment in your life? One of those moments where it seems like everything hangs in the balance, and your life could go in two very different directions depending on what happens?
Just over 500 years ago, a guy named Martin had one of those very moments. Depending on what he said on one moment, his life could have taken two very different directions. You see, Martin was a very big part of the Roman Catholic church. He was a monk in fact, and had devoted his life to the church. But under the direction of his mentor, Martin did a radical thing that very few people did then - he read the Bible.
Back in that time, most people couldn’t read and didn’t even own a Bible; and, the church encouraged people to *not* read the Bible, but instead only listen to their teaching. The problem with this is that the church wasn’t teaching the Bible accurately. The church was telling people that they needed to earn their way into heaven by giving money to the church. I’m sure you can see how this was very selfish of the church - they were getting rich off of people’s ignorance!
So when Martin read his Bible and discovered that God’s grace and salvation is really free, that was an earth-shattering event in his life! He discovered in Romans 1:17 that, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” We cannot earn righteousness by paying money to the church, but instead it is a free gift of God that we “earn” only by having faith in Him! This was a complete game-changer for Martin.
In response to this new-found truth, Martin started writing. A lot! One of the things he wrote was a list of 95 things he believed the church was doing wrong, and he posted them publicly on October 31, 1517. Unfortunately, the church didn’t like the idea of a guy like Martin taking away their income. So they got mad at him and called him in front of the emperor to recant (or deny) all of the stuff he had written.
In April of 1521, Martin Luther stood in front of the emperor Charles V (who ruled basically all of Europe) and he was asked to publicly deny all of what he had written, saying it was all a mistake. Fortunately for us, Martin did not deny any of it! Instead, he told the emperor that he cannot go against what the Scriptures say and against God. The emperor called him a mad man.
Because of Martin’s conviction, we today need to believe what the Bible says. We can look at God’s Word for ourselves, and we don’t have to rely on just what the church says - since the church can make mistakes too, just as Martin found out. In response to Martin’s step of faith, we believe the Bible before all other authorities. If not for Martin’s (and others’) work in the Protestant Reformation of the 1500’s, we can know the Truth of God’s Word for ourselves. We can all have the free gift of grace and salvation from God, without having to earn it in any way.
This turning point that happened in Martin Luther’s life gives us the freedom to believe the Bible and have faith in God to receive His grace and salvation. If you have not had a turning point in your life where you have devoted your life to God, now is the time to have your own personal reformation! You too can experience the same freedom that Martin, and countless other Christians because of him, experience every day.