You probably know that today is Halloween. But did you realize that it is also Reformation Day?
And did you know that Reformation Day is a fantastic day to celebrate?
from the movie “Luther”
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the wooden door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the spark which fueled the Protestant Reformation and some remarkable changes for the world.
Posthumous Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustine Monk
God used Martin Luther in a dramatic way to restore freedom and truth to His people. Luther had some significant flaws in both his doctrine and character. However, God gifted Luther with many profound spiritual insights, as well as the courage and conviction to defend those Biblical truths.
As he studied the Scriptures, Luther re-discovered this glorious truth:
We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is a free gift. It cannot be earned, bought, or sold.
This wonderful news, like a precious jewel, had been buried under thick layers of distortion and corruption within the Church. Luther retrieved this valuable gem, dusted off the deception, and held it up so that others could experience its beauty again.
Luther also re-discovered the key doctrines of the priesthood of all believers and the authority of the Scriptures. He taught that Church leadership was not infallible. For his refusal to recant some of his convictions, Luther suffered excommunication from the Church and threats to his life.
Luther Before the Diet of Worms, by Anton von Werner (1843–1915)
Reformation Day reminds us to thank God for the free gift of salvation, for the Scriptures that we hold in our hands, and for the direct access that we have into the Presence of God Almighty.
Here are several ways you may want to celebrate Reformation Day at your house:
- Watch the movie Luther. (The entire movie, in two parts, is posted on youtube. The movie is rated PG-13 and is not appropriate for children. )
- If you have young children, they will enjoy coloring pictures of Luther’s shield and learning about its interesting symbols. You can find fun activities for children at these sites:
- Sing or read the lyrics to A Mighty Fortress is Our God, written by Luther in 1529.
- Prepare a German supper. (I think German-chocolate cake qualifies, don’t you?)
- You can read more about Luther through many resources, but this website is unique in giving an easy-to-understand translation of the Ninety-Five Theses: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/the-reformation/the-95-theses-a-modern-translation/
- Enjoy some great Luther quotes (below).
To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.
Pray, and let God worry.
Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness.
All teachers of Scripture conclude that the essence of prayer is simply the lifting up of the heart to God. But if this is so, it follows that everything else that doesn’t lift up the heart to God is not prayer. Therefore, singing, talking, and whistling without this lifting up of your heart to God are as much like prayer as scarecrows in the garden are like people.
I have often learned much more in one prayer than I have been able to glean from much reading and reflection.
The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.
This is true faith, a living confidence in the goodness of God.
The heart overflows with gladness, and leaps and dances for the joy it has found in God. In this experience the Holy Spirit is active, and has taught us in the flash of a moment the deep secret of joy. You will have as much joy and laughter in life as you have faith in God.
Faith is the “yes” of the heart, a conviction on which one stakes one’s life.
We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.
Therefore, when some say good works are forbidden when we preach faith alone, it is as if I said to a sick man: “If you had health, you would have the use of your limbs; but without health the works of your limbs are nothing” and he wanted to infer that I had forbidden the works of all his limbs.
The two chief things are faith and love. Faith receives the good; love gives the good. Faith offers us God as our own; love gives us to our neighbor as his own.
Katharina von Bora, Luther’s wife, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526
Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.
One learns more of Christ in being married and rearing children than in several lifetimes spent in study in a monastery.
You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.
Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.
Temptations, of course, cannot be avoided, but because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need that we should let them nest in our hair.
Happy Reformation Day!