On this day, we celebrate the Reformation. More specifically, we celebrate the nailing of Luther’s 95 theses to the Wittenberg Wall. We speak of the 95 theses, but very few people have actually read them. Unless you are aware of the central debate concerning indulgences, it is very difficult to ascertain the meaning of Luther’s theses. As you read through them you realize that Luther is not so much opposed to the idea of purgatory at this stage in his thinking, but rather to the idea that adding pennies to the money box (Thesis 27), one can reduce the number of years a loved one will suffer in purgatory. Luther was insistent that pardon from sin is not something you buy, rather something you receive. This is why Luther begins his 95 theses by stating in thesis one that the Lord Jesus “wills that the whole life of believers should be repentance.” Repentance is the outworking of a life of faith. In fact, faith implies a repentant heart.
The Reformation is difficult to summarize, but we can say that central to Luther and others was the idea that salvation is a sheer act of God. Just like the world needed a Causer, our pardon needed a Savior. Luther’s 95 theses manifest this clear biblical reality that the Lord Jesus is the beginner and finisher of our faith.
Prayer: Yahweh, we thank you for our rich heritage. We pray that we may not squander our legacy of faith and perseverance, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.