For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
October 31, 1517: “Five hundred years ago, an unknown monk named Martin Luther marched up to the church in Wittenberg, a small town in what is now Germany,” reports time.com, “and nailed a list of criticisms of the Catholic church to its door…and Luther had just lit the fuse of what would become the Protestant Reformation.” Luther’s grievances, called the 95 Theses, would change world history. The “universal” Christian church would divide, wars would be fought, and dissenters would be tortured and killed. This was the birth of Protestant Christianity, and the basis of this great divide could be summed up in one sentence: we are saved by grace.
Luther’s bold action brought about the elimination of the controversial sale of “indulgences,” or corrupt payments to church officials in the belief that money could reduce punishment for sins after death. Luther stood firmly on the Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:8-9, that nothing any human being can do will save us from our sins except the atoning blood of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, Who willingly laid His life down for each and every one of us (1 John 2:2; Romans 5:9). Luther also contributed to literacy among common people by spearheading the translation of the Bible into languages other than Latin, and by insisting that people no longer needed to rely on priests to read and interpret God’s Holy Word. At a time when education was only available to the wealthy, He promoted universal learning for girls and boys. He was an early supporter of education for all boys and girls, believing in the correlation between literacy and liberation, both in society and in the church.
In the modern world, many Protestant churches are now collaborating and partnering in innovative ways. Several churches in our area have joined forces with a Catholic-run homeless shelter to ensure the facility’s doors remain open. Disaster relief, third world orphanages and refugee camps, and health crises worldwide draw cooperation and support from many denominations. I think God would approve that His saving grace is being shared widely and wisely today.
Not by what we’ve done, Lord, but by Your grace, are we saved from peril. Amen