PROOF – A short history of Martin Luther

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 2.47.40 PMOn Wednesday nights this fall, I am teaching a class called “PROOF: The Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace.”  This class will concentrate on the five Doctrines of Grace that are at the heart of the biblical reformed view of salvation.  On the first evening of the class, we discussed two great lawyers – Martin Luther (who studied law but never practiced) and John Calvin. God powerfully used these two men during the reformation in the early 1500s to bring the church out of the doctrinal errors of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Reformation and the Roman Catholic Church

The theology of the Reformation isn’t authoritative, of course. The leaders of the Reformation were every bit as fallible as you or me.  At the same time, the Reformation did drive people back to the Scriptures in a new way, and this return to the biblical texts led many Christians to question traditions in the Roman Catholic church that they couldn’t find in the Scriptures.  When it comes to the doctrine of salvation, Reformation leaders like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and later William Tyndale and John Knox rediscovered important biblical truths about how and why God saves people.

It’s possible, however, that the historical events leading up to the Reformation are a bit fuzzy in your recollection, especially if it’s been a few years since you last endured a European history course. To refresh your memory, we are going to walk through a of the sixteenth-century Reformation. In doing so, we are going to concentrate our attention on the vital history making, Christian ministry of two lawyers. Now, in light of the many lawyer jokes that are so commonly told around the office water cooler, you may ask the question, “What good is a lawyer?”  Well, I assure you, there are a number of fine Christian lawyers that have had a powerful impact for the gospel.  One that we will consider is – Martin Luther, and the second – John Calvin.

Lawyer #1: Martin Luther

First, let’s take a look at this twelve-minute video about Martin Luther – the prospective lawyer turned monk – and discover what happened on October 31, 1517:

Video: “Our conscience must be captive to the Word of God.”

  1. Martin Luther was a lawyer who became a ____MONK_________________.
  1. Luther was obsessed by his own ____UNRIGHTEOUSNESS_________ and the righteousness of God.
  1. The study of Holy Scripture became Luther’s favorite ____OCCUPATION_____________________.
  1. Luther’s first hope of salvation was found in Psalm 31:1 – “In your ______RIGHTEOUSNESS_____ deliver me.”
  1. Luther’s confidence of salvation was found in Romans 1:17 “ The righteous shall live by ___FAITH___________.
  1. Righteousness that is attributed to the believer by faith in Christ is called “___PASSIVE____” righteousness.
  1. “_______INDULGENCES_________” were purchased to gain forgiveness for sin for yourself and loved ones in purgatory (the place of purging that took place between death and resurrection).
  1. Tetzel was a Dominican monk who sang, “As soon as the ______COIN_____ in the coffer does ring, a soul from purgatory does spring.”
  1. Martin wrote and posted _95_THESES____________________ on the Wittenburg door that challenged the heresy of the Roman Catholic Church.
  1. In 1521, Luther was called to the Diet of _____WORMS_____, an imperial gathering before Charles V.
  1. Luther’s statement: “Show me in _______HOLY SCRIPTURE______ why I am wrong. Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, for I cannot believe in popes and councils. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. God help me.


And so, Martin Luther moved from a lawyer to a monk, then from a monk to a critic and finally from a critic to a fugitive—but Martin Luther wasn’t the only fugitive lawyer who became a leader in the Reformation.  Luther’s ultimatum before King Charles – “my conscience is captive to the Word of God” – created a major shift of authority in Christianity – tearing the church away from fallen “popes and councils” and re-establishing the church on the foundation of Holy Scripture.  This was a HUGE shift that empowered the reformation of the church in the 1500s and put the scriptures and the gospel into the hands and hearts of God’s people.  As a result, what we refer to today as “Reformed Theology”, was the true and biblical theology that was recovered during this movement.  If it were not for this Holy Spirit empowered, reformed movement and theology, there simply would be no biblical churches in existence today…  In short, Surfside Presbyterian Church would not exist.

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