October 31, 1517 Key Reformation
Theme: BY SCRIPTURE ALONE October 31, 2017
Where do you go for information – for real, reliable, honest truth? Not guesses, not opinions, not self-declared experts, not loud arguers, not “fake news?” Do you depend on what you read on the internet? in newspapers? on Twitter? Facebook? Some TV network? from Your favorite politician? Scientists? TV preachers?
Some sources say they are completely objective; or are totally true and honest; or “seldom in error”. Some confess to an occasional mistake, or quote “unnamed informants” or “recognized experts”. Some sources are blatantly prejudiced, and some pass out discredited old propaganda.
Martin Luther faced a similar dilemma early in life. “Who is right?” he asked. Church Councils? The Pope and other Church leaders? Godly monks? Famous scholars and authors? Holy men like St. Francis of Assisi?
The more Luther studied and learned, the more he saw the truth: all human leaders and organizations disagree. Luther came to see there is only one true, infallible, completely trustworthy source – the Word of God, that is, the Scriptures that reveal the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus the Christ. By the time he was nearly 40 years old, Luther stood before the Holy Roman Emperor and representatives of the Pope. They demanded that he withdraw all he had written, recant everything as in error, and vow not to cause any more trouble with writings that opposed the established Church.
He refused. “Unless I am convinced by Holy Scriptures and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. Amen.”
While hiding for fear of his life, Luther devoted the next months translating the New Testament into German. Then people had the same foundation he had. For the next months and years he wrote, preached, debated opponents, met with high officials and worked tirelessly so that his fellow-Christians could be sure they were saved as a free gift by God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
The following decades and centuries were filled with a large variety of leaders and opinions, with hard words and feelings, with conflict and even wars of Christians against Christians. Yet the three core Keys of Luther’s work stood the test of time: Salvation in Jesus Christ is BY GRACE ALONE, BY FAITH ALONE, and BY SCRIPTURE ALONE.
(Luther’s basic Bible-study principle: John 5: 39 “…search the Scriptures…testify of Me.”)