For Lutheran Christians the Reformation marks a key turning point in the history of the visible church. After centuries of decline, during which the church moved away from Scripture, the Lord of history once again returned his truth to his people. Although our gracious Lord works through men and women, using earthly events to carry out his divine purpose, the fact still remains that the Reformation is God's doing.
Martin Luther's posting of the 95 Theses on 31 October 1517 is generally considered to be the beginning of the Reformation. The 95 Theses attacked the abuse of indulgences. Technically an indulgence was a payment for sin to take away years from purgatory. Pope Boniface VIII had offered the first Jubilee Indulgence in 1300. Although the original intent was to offer these pardons from the church's treasury of merits every 100 years, indulgences were such a financial boon that it was decided to have one every 50 years, then every 33 years and finally every 25 years. Additional benefits became available in 1476 when Sixtus IV established an indulgence for the dead in purgatory.
None of this is Scriptural and insulted the “once for all sacrifice of Jesus” for all the sins of all people. Luther first attempted to correct this situation through his sermons. Luther, as a doctor of theology, believed that he could not remain silent any longer. This feeling of responsibility, together with his inner conviction that people were being misled, forced Luther to take action.
The 95 Theses were intended only for theological discussion. It was for that reason that the theses were written in Latin and not in German. But if Luther believed he could keep this an academic discussion, he was sadly mistaken. Within weeks his theses, translated almost immediately into German and printed with the Gutenberg’s printing press, were available throughout Germanyand beyond. Friedrich Myconius in his Historia Reformationis suggested, "It was as though the angels themselves were the messengers carrying the news to all peoples." Thus began the Reformation which we celebrate every year. Come celebrate with us on Sunday October 28th at 10:30 AM.