Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reformation Day

Today is Reformation Day, celebrating the 490th anniversary of Martin Luther's nailing his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenburg. Among other things, it was the beginning of a recovery of the gospel of grace.

Here are Luther's own words about his re-discovery of the gospel:

“I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, ‘the justice of God,’ [Rom. 1:17] because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him.

Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant. Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that ‘the just shall live by his faith’ [Rom. 1:17]. Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas the ‘justice of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressively sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate of heaven….”

- Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 34: The Career of the Reformer IV, Helmut L. Lehmann, ed. (Minneapolis, MN.: Fortress Press, 1960), 337

[HT: Of First Importance]