We are the church of the Great Reformation. This was a major world-changing event that took place some 500 years ago when a medieval monk and priest named Martin Luther realized there was something wrong in Christ’s Church. Indeed, over time many false teachings crept into the Church as the book of Timothy in the Bible said would happen. (1 Tim. 4:3)
To begin with, the church lost the message of the Gospel – that God loves the world and has forgiven sinners for the sake of Jesus His Son who lived and died and rose for all. Having lost the Gospel and the central teaching of the Bible – Justification by Grace through Faith, the Church was steeped in Law. As a result, it saw God as little more than angry who had to be appeased.
To appease him, Christians were told they had to make pilgrimages, venerate old relics, do penance to make amends for their sins, pray to the saints of old and to the Virgin Mary for blessings and help. Christians also were driven to purchase indulgences which was a money making scheme that offered time off in an imaginary place called purgatory where Christians went after death to finish paying for their sins. In addition, it was ruled that priests and nuns could not get married which would sow the seeds for secret corruption in the church.
These and many other problems entered the church which had lost a true understanding of the Bible, substituted the teachings of man for God’s teachings, and profoundly confused Law and Gospel. Into this setting Martin Luther was born. As time went on, God led him back to the Scriptures, back to the true Gospel, and back to a faith that clung to Christ alone and not to the works of man.
On October 31, 1517 this “unruly” monk and teacher of theology nailed a document known as the 95 Thesis to the church door of the castle in Wittenburg, Germany. The document called for debate on the topic of indulgences as well as other issues. This document caused quite a stir and came to be seen as the official beginning of the Great Reformation.
Through many trials and tribulation Martin Luther and others brought the church back to its true roots – the Holy Bible as the inspired and inerrant word of God, salvation by grace alone apart from the works of man, faith in Jesus alone not in the merits of man. Because of this three-fold theme of the Reformation emerged – Sola Scriptura, Sola Gracia, Sola Fides! Scripture alone! Grace alone! Faith alone!
Our heritage therefore, is that of a historical church that values the lessons of the past, a Bible-centered church that sees the Bible as God’s inspired and inerrant Word and the only source of doctrine and life, a grace-centered Church that looks to Jesus alone for our salvation and a people centered church that reaches out to all with the love of Christ.
We are called “Lutherans” not because we worship Luther – we don’t!! In fact Luther himself did not want his name to be attached to the church. It was actually Luther’s enemies that gave this name and brought it into use! Over time, though, it stuck and was used as a symbol of the fight for the truth and the proclamation of the pure Gospel that accompanies every age.