Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Martin Luther was a monk, a Reverend Father in the Roman Catholic Church. He had a Master of Arts in Sacred Theology. On October 31, 1517, Luther posted his “95 Theses” on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. They challenged a number of teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic Church firmly held and taught that salvation was possible through “good works.”
Luther’s “95 Theses” set forth two central beliefs. First and primary was that the Bible was the only authority upon which to base Christian teaching and doctrine. Second, salvation was by faith alone and not by works. His actions sparked the Protestant Reformation. His writings changed the course of religious and cultural history of the Western world.
In July 1520, Pope Leo X issued a papal bull which decreed that Luther’s propositions were heretical and gave Luther 120 days to recant in Rome. Luther refused to recant, and on January 3, 1521, Pope Leo excommunicated Martin Luther from the Catholic Church.
On April 17, 1521, Luther appeared before the Diet of Worms in Germany. Again he refused to recant. He stood tall, he stood alone and concluded his defense with the following declaration: “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason (I do not accept the authority of popes and councils because they have contradicted each other), my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. So help me God. Amen.”
This has since been condensed to one simple sentence: “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”
Based upon his insight and understanding of the truth of the Scriptures, Martin Luther was willing to take dissentient position in defiance of the religious authorities of his day. His conscience had become a willing captive to the Word of God.ar understanding of the truth of Scripture. His conscience had become a willing captive to the Word of God.
He stood alone.
Many people in Scripture stood alone and defied the authority of secular and religious leaders when they went against the clear teaching of Scripture.
The story of Daniel in the lion’s den comes to mind. Darius, the ruler of Persia, had recognized Daniel’s abilities and trustworthiness. He became second-in-command under Darius. This made the other Persian officials jealous and hateful. They concocted a plot to pass an unrighteous law that no one could pray except to Darius for 30 days. They implied that Daniel went along with this decree. Daniel had done no such thing. When the law was passed, Daniel continued in his daily prayers as usual. He stood alone against all of the power and authority of the Persian kingdom and its leader Darius.
Darius had the highest admiration for Daniel. He knew he had been tricked by Daniel’s envious counterparts. He was furious and tried to find a loophole to rescue Daniel, but he was trapped by the inflexibility of his own decree (Daniel 6:14). Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den to be devoured. Darius spent the night tossing and turning and fearful that his loyal, devoted servant Daniel would be destroyed. In his own way, Darius prayed for Daniel – “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you” (Daniel 6:16).
We know the rest the story. Daniel lived and was supernaturally protected by an angel sent from the Father. However, all those who had maliciously plotted against him, along with their families, were thrown into the lion’s den and became a feline-feast.
REFLECT & PRAY
By the Scriptures alone, through the work of Christ alone, we have been saved by grace alone through faith alone.
Father thank You that You have offered me salvation and I have accepted it. Encourage me to stand alone as so many of Your servants have faithfully done throughout the ages.
Luther’s bold stand did not happen in a vacuum. For years Luther had studied and taught the book of Romans. He had struggled and wrestled with the meaning of the words “righteous” and “righteousness of God.” Luther wrote that they, “struck my conscience as flashes of lightning, frightening me each time I heard them.”
Then came an amazing, miraculous discovery, and awakening. He attributed his remarkable breakthrough in understanding to the work of the Holy Spirit alone.
He realized that the righteousness that Paul was speaking of is not merely the righteous character of Father God Himself. But instead it was the righteousness that God freely gives by His grace to people who do not possess righteousness on their own. Putting it in other words, the righteousness of God is a gift of grace that the Father gives to every one of His children. Luther wrote, “When I discovered that, I was born again of the Holy Ghost. And the doors of paradise swung open, and I walked through.”
The Protestant Reformation changed the then known European world. Once again salvation by faith alone was known and taught. As a result, down through the years, untold myriads have entered into the Father’s kingdom by faith alone.
The Five Solas have been passed down to us through the centuries. The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans). They summarize the Protestant Reformation’s basic theological principles. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding phrases are:
Sola Fide, by faith alone.
Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.