Someone once said that if we don’t learn from the past; then we will be destined to repeat it. I fear the church of Jesus Christ as a whole does not know her past very well; and if we stay ignorant about our history, we will be destined to repeat it. This Saturday is October 31st, and many people will be putting on their costumes, going to their parties, and pigging-out on candy. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Christians who will participate will not be celebrating what is really important and memorable about October 31st. We need to know why this day is special. When we do, we’ll then have a blessed reason to celebrate. Christians, let’s look into our history.
Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk, Catholic priest, and theology professor at the University of Wittenberg, Germany. He was not pleased with some of the things the church was doing, one of which was the selling of indulgences. This term meant that at the right price, one could “buy” the forgiveness of sins. The chant was, “As the coin in the coffer rings, another soul from purgatory springs.” Don’t blame the average person for falling for this. When you don’t have God’s Word in your own language to read for yourself, you just believe whatever the “experts” tell you. So if they say you can buy forgiveness, then you buy it.
Luther wrote a paper called the 95 theses. It challenged this practice, along with several others that were not Scriptural. On October 31st, 1517, Luther nailed his 95 theses on the castle church door in Wittenberg. He was later ordered to recant his statements, which he refused to do. He was hid by a friend for a while, and was excommunicated from the church. His act of bravery in standing for the truth during a time when you didn’t question the church is what sparked the protestant reformation. He later translated the Bible into German, the people’s language, so that all men could read the truth for themselves.
Luther did not set out to start the Lutheran church. He set out to reform the Roman church of some of it’s ungodly ways. Unfortunately, the church did not want to hear it, and instead called him a heretic. However, all was not lost. Many others who agreed slowly started to make their voice heard. The church was in the beginning stages of a great purification process that we still benefit from today. Next to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and the day of Pentecost - Oct 31st, 1517, is one of the greatest days in church history.
Luther was by no means perfect. He held to some unscriptural beliefs, became very anti-Semitic when his attempts at converting Jews failed, and even set a date for the return of Christ. I don’t apologize for this behavior - it’s simply unbiblical and not Christ-like. However, it would be foolish to throw out the good with the bad. We must learn to swallow the hay, and spit out the sticks.
Many people gave their lives during the reformation, so that we could have God’s Word in our own tongue. Great sacrifices were made so that we could worship freely in accordance with God’s Word, and we need to recognize and appreciate that. Freedom is not free; it comes at a price. Many Christians today have forgotten the price that was paid. They don’t cherish God’s Word, and are too willing to compromise it at the drop of a hat. We need to stand for God’s Word. We need to speak it with authority. We need to honor the memory of all those that gave up everything so that we, their descendants, could enjoy having God’s Word at our fingertips. If we don’t, we may wake up one day and find ourselves repeating history.
I’m not trying to offend anyone, but truth is truth. I haven’t said anything that isn’t documented history. The problem is, it’s not being taught. So, ignorance dominates - and many lay their Bible’s aside and swallow the cheap imitation of truth that the world feeds them. They believe, “To err is human; to compromise is divine.” Here is something positive we can take from Luther: Stand for what you believe in - even if you stand alone. However, just make sure your stance is based on the truth of God’s Holy Word. Then stand (Eph 6:13).
I pray Brothers and Sisters that you celebrate Oct. 31st from now on with a new focus and purpose; and that you would be thankful to God for this Christian Holiday. Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!