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The most well know Reformer is Martin Luther, who was born on Nov. 10, 1483, at Eisleben in Prussian Saxony, where he died, Feb. 18, 1546.

He was born into a rather poor family, but managed with the help of his father to enter University in the year 1501, at the age of eighteen, and there studied scholastic philosophy. His father desired he enter the practice of law, but after graduating with a Doctorate in Philosophy, Luther instead entered an Augustinian Convent as a monk in the year 1505.

Luther strove to become a saint and earn his way to heaven by his works of piety, strict observation of the Law of God and self discipline; managing to excel over others in prayers, fastings and self humiliations. But peace and rest in God did not come to him for he could not escape his sinfulness no matter what piety he practiced. The harder he tried to achieve a self-righteousness, the more he was tempted with his vices of anger and pride. He lived in fear of the divine justice of God against such sins that the Holy Scriptures revealed in him. He could not feel at one with God, but instead feared God's wrath continously.

It was only by concerted study of the Book of Ephesians that Luther learned the grace of God and forgiveness of his sins. There he found the justifying "righteousness of Jesus Christ" that alone could bring him peace, and eventually concluded that it was this Godly righteousness given to him as a free gift by the grace of God that alone would reconcile him with God.

Luther learned, through the Holy Spirit's guidance, the spiritual truth that righteousness can never be earned in corrupted flesh, or through good works, but only comes through imputation of Godly righteousness from Christ to sinners accounts, which is consciously realized and applied through the means of faith alone. Scriptures revealed to Luther that his Godly justification was the judicial ruling of God when He acquitted him of his sins and guilt and in exchange, clothed him with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He came to understand that the gift of faith to trust in Christ's righteousness and apprehend the peace of forgiveness, came directly from God and not via the church, the RCC priesthood, or through his own works and attempts at piety in his flesh.

Luther grasped that justification is a single act of God, followed by progressive sanctification in the Holy Spirit. Justification is based upon the grace of God alone, according to the merits of Christ's blood offering alone, realized by faith alone, which produces good works which give evidence of salvation. This was far different than the Roman Catholic teachings that contend that justification is a continuing process through which salvation and grace is maintained by good works; thus mixing and confusing the two doctrines of justification and sanctification to be one conditional means of salvation.

Luther found great spiritual relief in being given this doctrinal insight, and experienced great joy in understanding the depths of the significance of adoption by grace through simple faith, which declared him a saint and a son of God freely and apart from works. He learned that faith in God was a free gift that could not be purchased with money or earned by human merit.

He abandoned the life of a monk and married, even though he lived in the Convent. He became a lecturer at University and preached the gospel in the Convent and in the town, but did not separate from the church of Rome, but was actually supported by it. However, as time went on, he could not remain silent regarding the practice of indulgences, and wrote out 95 Latin Theses against such in the attempt to generate public discussion, and nailed them to the door of the church at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517 . . .which became the anniversary date of the historical Reformation.

No one took up the challenge and there was no discussion at that time, but due to God's providence and the recently invented printing press, his Theses were copied, translated, printed, and widely spread throughout Germany and Europe in only a few weeks.

Then began Luther's 3-year "anti-Papal" writing and preaching efforts which God used to transform the religious sytem, church soteriology, and Christian society, by freeing individuals from dependence upon church traditions and priesthood, into personal and direct intercession and communion with their Lord Jesus Christ.

In 1520, Luther published a book, which exposed the tyranny of the Pope and criticized the works-righteousness gospel of the Roman Catholic Church. This publication was well received by many people, but it caused a Bull of Excommunication to be sent from the church at Rome to Luther . . who burned it and broke away from Rome in the year 1520.


"Jesus Christ never died for our good works. They were not worth dying for. But he gave himself for our sins, according to the Scriptures." Martin Luther

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