It was the poster that changed the world. Five hundred years ago this October 31st, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther’s document was posted as a protest against abusive practices by preachers who were selling indulgences, which were certificates that were believed to offer atonement for sin. History suggests that Luther’s goal in posting his treatise was to spark theological debate within the church, and hopefully see repentance from those he believed were acting against the pope and the Catholic Church in the sale of indulgences. What Luther did not know is that those who were selling indulgences were acting on the orders of the pope and of the church hierarchy.
Luther’s effort to create an internal debate sparked a revolution that saw the recovery of the gospel and a split within the church that has never been healed. As the Reformation grew and matured, the rallying cry of the Reformers was distilled into what we now call the Five Solas of the Reformation. Sola is a Latin word that means “alone.” In response to the Catholic Church, the Reformers proclaimed that salvation is through Scripture alone, through faith alone, by grace alone, by Jesus alone, to the glory of God alone. The work of salvation is not for sale through indulgences, it does not need the blessing of any man, and it cannot be earned through our works. Salvation is a gift of God, through the shed blood of Jesus, to the glory of God.
During the month of October, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I will be preaching through the five solas of the reformation. My goal is not only to celebrate the work of Luther and other reformers, but to celebrate the gospel of Jesus. We should regularly reflect upon the glory that is the gospel and the amazing work that God does through the salvation of sinners.
I pray that through these sermons, we will all develop a deeper understanding of salvation and a deeper appreciation for the work of salvation in our lives. I also pray that God will use these sermons to spur us on toward evangelism as we seek out the salvation of others.
The Protestant Reformation was a movement to recapture the gospel and restore it to its rightful place in the center of Christ’s church. The greatest honor we can pay to those who gave their lives for Christ and his church during the Reformation is to keep the Word of God in the center of our lives, the gospel on our lips, and the glory of God as our greatest motivation. Soli Deo Gloria (To God Be The Glory)!