by Robert Booth
Born Into A Dark World
Despite all his effort, Luther could not find God.
After earning several degrees, his spiritual father sent him to Rome in an attempt to give Luther some “fresh air.” Rome was the center of the Catholic church and the city where pilgrims made their journey to see the “Holy Father.” As Martin entered the Holy City, much to his chagrin, he found chaos. Rome was an open sewer of greed and corruption where houses of prostitution catered to priests. Most appalling to Luther, salvation was for sale, and people truly believed they could buy their way to heaven.
In the year 1513, Rome elected a new pope, Leo X, who wanted to reform Roman Catholicism and rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica. When Pope Leo lacked the necessary funds to build this massive church, he turned to underhanded means.
With the help of John Tetzel, a plan was formulated for the selling of indulgences. Tetzel rode into villages and set up a stage for his master performance. Imagine Tetzel theatrically saying: “Ssh, can’t you hear them? Listen! They are screaming in pain and anguish! Fathers calling to their sons and mothers calling to their daughters in anguish from the fires of purgatory!”
After painting pictures in the people’s minds of their relatives burning in hell, Tetzel would offer a solution: A little money would release their relatives from the burning flames. He was known for one quaint saying: “When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.” This is how the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica was being financed.
Luther heard about the abuses surrounding indulgences and stories of people who thought they had purchased their way to heaven; the words of Scripture rang out in his mind, “the just shall live by faith!”
A Call to Justification by Faith
Martin Luther is one of those imperfect, messy individuals that God used to fan the flames of reformation and revival.
They never did. Five hundred years later, we are heirs of the Protestant Reformation.
History intrigues many with evidence upon evidence of how God takes imperfect men and women — sometimes messy men and women — and uses them to accomplish His will.
Martin Luther is one of those imperfect, messy individuals that God used to fan the flames of reformation and revival across Germany and beyond.
This October, join us as we reflect on our heritage. Don’t miss the 500th anniversary of the Reformation!
Marty, Martin. (2016). October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day That Changed the World. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press. Written last year, this is a small volume that effectively covers this important date.
Sproul, R.C., & Nichols, S. (Eds.). (2016). The Legacy of Luther. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust. Sproul, Nichols, and thirteen other scholars and pastors examine his life, teaching and enduring influence. This volume is for those who are interested in a more academic approach of Luther.
Reeves, M., & and Chester, T. (2016). Why the Reformation Still Matters. Wheaton, IL: Crossroads. This book approaches the Reformation from why it mattered in 1517 and why it still matters, 500 years later.
God’s Missionary Standard, volume 68(3). http://www.godsmissionarystandard.com/pdfs/201708.pdf
About the Author
Robert Booth is husband to Arlene, father of three little girls, administrator and Bible teacher at Hobe Sound Christian Academy. He has an MAR from Evangelical Seminary in history and theology. He is also the creator of Kids Bible Travels, which teaches kids how to study the Bible. You can connect with him on Twitter @rwbooth and at kidsbibletravels.com.