Five hundred years ago a German monk named Martin Luther wanted to debate the Roman Catholic practice of granting indulgences. The official teaching of the Church was that after death Christians needed to undergo purification in purgatory before they could enter heaven. An indulgence shortened a person’s time in purgatory, and a person could earn an indulgence for a loved one who had died by praying for that person or by donating money so that others would pray. Luther laid out his argument in ninety-five theses that he posted on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg on October 31, 1517.
Over time the debate that Luther instigated in those dark days led to a major division. He and many others came to believe that the Roman Catholic Church had abandoned the essential truths of the biblical gospel. Their effort to reform the Church became a protest movement as they started new churches without any connection to the hierarchy in Rome.
Today many members of Protestant churches have lost sight of those essential truths about which Luther and the other reformers were so passionate. As Paul warned in Ephesians 4:14, believers are “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” We need to ground ourselves in the gospel.
At Calvary East we are going to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation by examining the history, biblical basis, and practical relevance of these essential truths. We will begin on Sunday, September 17, and continue our study through the end of October in our weekly 10:30 a.m. Sunday worship service. I am praying that this series will deepen our passion for the life-giving truths of the biblical gospel.
– Bryan Craddock