Reformation Sunday —9:00 AM Worship

A man posting paper on the door of the church

Lutheran flower inside a circle with a black cross on a red heart in the center and the words "Reformation Sunday"Reformation Sunday

—9 AM Worship Service

Of course, everyone knows that Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation by posting his famous 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. What were the main issues? 

A man posting paper on the door of the church.

Indulgences

An indulgence was a promise that the pope could declare you forgiven of your sins so your time in Purgatory was either cut short or eliminated (if you paid enough). Luther saw grave problems with this practice. The first of the 95 Theses stated, “The life of the Christian is one of repentance.” The key here is that Luther did not base his argument on the Vulgate, which was the Latin version of the Bible the Catholics used. Instead, he worked from a version of the New Testament written in Greek, the original language. This is important.

Latin words in colors: Sola Gratia, grace alone; Sola Fide, Faith alone; Sola Scriptura, Scripture Alone

Grace, Faith, Scripture —Alone, 

Luther was saying that the Roman Catholic Church had gotten it wrong all those centuries. The Vulgate translated the phrase “do penance,” thus laying upon man the burden of saving his soul from hell. This unnecessarily tormented man. Luther, through the 95 Theses, and then subsequent books, pamphlets and sermons, pointed out that the Bible actually taught that no one could ever earn God’s forgiveness—whether through good works or purchase of an indulgence. Forgiveness was found in Christ’s finished work on the cross alone, a gift we received through faith alone by God’s grace alone as taught in the Scriptures alone.

Photo of an open Bible by a window with a hand holding it.

Plain Language of People

If it was true that the Bible was the final judge of faith and doctrine, then Luther reasoned that everyone—not just clergy—had the right to read and study it. This meant the Bible, all sermons and all hymns should be clear, straightforward and understandable. Luther went on to translate the Bible into the plain language of his people, which was German.

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