To contextualize this exposition, please read: “The Truth About Halloween.”
Imagine the din of wayfarers, the urgency of mothers to bring their children, the fathers guiding their families to the castle church of Wittenberg. It is October 31, 1517, the day before All Saints Day. On All Saints Day, the Roman Catholic Church would be offering complete pardon to those who visit the church and make confession (White 127). Bearing much semblance to the temple Jesus had to cleanse in Matthew 21:12, 13, the castle church of Wittenberg was crowded with clergy selling indulgences for sin. Martin Luther, however, a Catholic Monk upon hearing a voice like thunder say
“‘The just shall live by faith.’ Romans 1:17”White 123
had been denouncing the system, and longed for this “sow a seed salvation” to be snuffed out. Of course, Luther received push back from the Church, who did not want to lose the revenue pooling in from people seeking to avoid punishment.
But on October 31, Luther knew what he would do. On the day when people would have been traveling from far lands, and trying to make sure that they were in church, he would post The 95 Theses Regarding the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. And he did. Although just 33 years old at the time, historians attribute his act as the start of the Protestant Reformation (White 128).
At the heart of the Protestant Reformation was for the believer to know God intimately, removing the middle men of priests. It was designed to draw the people to the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). It was the revelation of Jesus Christ being the penitent sinner’s sufficiency. It was the realization that salvation cannot be purchased. No, for the gift of God cannot be purchased with money (Acts 8:20). Salvation is a free gift. All God requires is, “a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). It is this godly sorrow that, “worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Far more precious than riches, is the transformation of the heart and refining of the character. This daily, moment by moment self-examination is what was brought to light from Luther’s 95 Theses. No longer did the people have to climb Pilate’s staircase on their knees, induce bodily affliction or pay large lumps of money to receive forgiveness. But as John the beloved disciple records,
“If we confess our sins, [H]e is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”(1 John 1:9).
This is what happened on Halloween, 1517.
As we reflect on the holy boldness of Luther, let us develop a closer relationship with Jesus today. We don’t need to confess to a priest, because Jesus is our High Priest who, “ever liveth to make intercession for [us]” (Hebrews 7:25). We don’t need to purchase salvation, because we have already been, “bought for a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). The rather, let us by faith, “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). For by Jesus’ faith, we shall live.
-Thank You Jesus!
White, Ellen G. The Great Controversy: plus Supplementary Material by the Editor of Harvestime Books. Harvestime Books, 2019. Altamont, TN.