Martin Luther: Making a Bold Declaration for God
“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting tables exchanging money. So he made a whip of cords, and drove all from the temple, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”
John 2:13 – 16 (NIV)
The Jerusalem Temple consisted of several courts. The outermost court (Court of the Gentiles) is where the Gentiles were allowed. This court is where believing Gentiles prayed and worshipped. This court was also where animals were slaughtered and money was exchanged. Temple officials expected Gentiles to worship God amongst the sounds of clinking coins, negotiations, and animal slaughter. These surroundings did not provide the ideal conditions for a person to enter into a state of praise and worship. Yet, this is where the Temple officials relegated Gentile believers. And this is where Jesus made a bold declaration. He cleared this area so fellow believers could give God their focus when worshipping Him. When we make bold declarations for God, it makes it easier for others to draw closer to Him.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther made a bold declaration for God. According to many accounts, Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenburg on this day, and this marked the official beginning of the Protestant Reformation. In this work, Luther argued against the clergy’s practice of selling plenary indulgences. Clergy members taught Christians at the time that they could purchase indulgences to reduce the amount of time their loved ones would spend in purgatory. Luther believed by selling indulgences, clergy members engaged in abusive and deceptive practices against believers. More importantly, he contended that by having indulgences as an “insurance policy,” Christians would not truly repent for their sins.
Luther’s bold declaration resulted in him standing trial for heresy and culminated in the Catholic Church excommunicating him in 1521. It also resulted in his work being translated and spread all throughout Germany and Europe. Because of this work and the Reformation, people began printing Bibles in languages other than Latin, which allowed millions of people to hear and read the word of God in their native language. Luther’s bold act created the environment for millions to enter into personal relationships with God.
Today’s Training: We need to end the myth of comfortable Christianity. What bold decisions, statements, or choices do you need to make? What is holding you back from going all in for God? When you hold back and play it safe, you are not just affecting yourself, but you are negatively affecting others. Imagine if Jesus played it safe in the Temple or Luther played it safe and went along with the indulgences. Ask God to show you your “all in” moment and then act on it.