October 31 would be better celebrated as Reformation Day, not Halloween. If you are not familiar with Reformation Day it celebrates the day that the Reformation began in Europe with Martin Luther posting his 95 theses on the Wittenburg church door in protest to the selling of indulgences.
Martin Luther as a monk struggled to find peace with God. As a monk he would dedicate himself to fasting, flagellation, long hours in prayer, pilgrimage and constant confession. Even with all of that he still didn’t feel at peace with God. He was ordered to pursue an academic career and in doing so studied Scripture in depth.
It was actually in his tower experience when he rediscovered and believed the Biblical gospel. He described that light broke upon him when reading Romans 1:17.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith,” (ESV).
It is in the Gospel, (Romans 1:16), that righteousness is revealed. Luther had been struggling to be righteous based on his own merit, but he continually failed. It dawned on him that this righteousness God freely gives to those who believe in the Gospel. The sinner is declared righteous by God through faith, not works. It is accomplished by the work of Christ’s death upon the cross, not by our work or us keeping the Law. The Apostle Paul describes to the Church at Corinth:
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God, (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV).
The word righteousness once made Luther feel nothing but dread, but after realizing this central truth of Scripture his perspective changed, he said:
“I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word ‘righteousness of God.’ Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise.”
We can celebrate on Reformation Day the same truth that Luther rediscovered then: that salvation is by faith alone through grace alone. Main doctrines that Luther also taught:
- Sola Fide – “Justification by faith alone”
- Priesthood of All Believers – we can go directly to God for the forgiveness of sin, (Hebrews 4:16).
- Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone – (2 Timothy 3:16).
- He also embraced the doctrine of predestination, though that is more readily identified with John Calvin.
When he was confronted at the Diet of Worms, opened on January 22, 1521, and was challenged to retract his writings, Luther prayed about his response. The following day he replied:
“Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require of me a simple, clear and direct answer, I will give one, and it is this: I can not submit my faith either to the pope or to the council, because it is as clear as noonday that they have fallen into error and even into glaring inconsistency with themselves. If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by cogent reasons, if I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s word, I neither can nor will retract anything; for it can not be right for a Christian to speak against his country. I stand here and can say no more. God help me. Amen”
Amen indeed. So today instead of celebrating Halloween take time to celebrate Reformation Day instead!