Last week I shared about Martin Luther, the great German Protestant reformer of the sixteenth century, after whom Martin Luther King, Jr. was named after. Back then, during what was called the Dark Ages, there was only one visible church in the land, and absolutely no religious liberty. That time was called the Dark Ages because the Bible was withheld from the people, and superstitions, rituals and traditions took the place of true faith.
Martin Luther was a priest and monk. He at one time traveled to Rome on assignment for his convent and was appalled at what he saw: extravagance, debauchery, excess and irreverence. One day there he was climbing up the steps of “Pilate’s staircase.” These steps, it was said, were the same that Jesus climbed and were “miraculously” transferred from Jerusalem to Rome. People were promised full forgiveness of all their sins (indulgence) if they climbed them of their knees.
As Luther made his way up the staircase, he heard a voice speak to him saying: “the just shall live by faith,” a reference to Romans 1:16. He was so shocked that he immediately got up and left the place. Luther left Rome never to return.
Luther later became a theology professor at the University of Wittenberg. He lectured on the gospels and epistles of Paul from the New Testament. His teaching and preaching was straight out of the Bible and not the traditions of the church. He taught that all religious teaching should only come from the Bible and the Bible only.
When the sale of certificates of pardon from sin (indulgences) was occurring near Wittenberg, Martin stood up against it. One day, people from all parts of Germany and Europe were visiting the castle church of Wittenberg to adore the collection of relics of the German Prince of Saxony. Martin arrived with other worshippers and nailed to the door 95 reasons why the sale of indulgences should be discontinued. He also addressed the abuses of the church and invited anyone to discuss these propositions with him at the university the next day.
Those 95 theses were copied extensively so that within a matter of weeks, people were reading them all throughout Europe: Switzerland, Holland, France, Spain, England, Belgium and Italy. Great attention was drawn to Luther’s writings and the sale of indulgences went considerably down. Luther continued writing against the abuses of the church and stated that the church needed to return to following the Bible. Thousands came to know Christ as their Savior through his works.
Martin’s ministry, however, was bitterly opposed. He was condemned as a heretic by the church. He finally was given sixty days to recant his teachings and writings. At the end of those sixty days he was excommunicated from the church. God, however, sustained Luther through the storm, because He would still have Luther bear witness of his faith in person before the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and top church leadership.
– Dave Pikop is pastor of the Exeter Seventh-day Adventist Church, located at 600 Lenox Ave. To contact him, call 592-2464 or email: ExeterSDAnewsletter@yahoo.com.
– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.