1500

{Finding the Gospel}

Luther joined an Augustinian Monastery in 1505 due to a vow he had made. Joining a monastery was believed and taught by the church as a most pleasing choice before God, but upon entering, Luther became more aware of how sinful he was. In the solitude of the monastic life he often saw his own selfishness and pride. He would fast and discipline his body by sleeping without blankets or on the floor as a sign of his sorrow to God. He would confess sins often and as throughly as he could. This terrible cycle only led to more terror and fear. He never felt peace and confidence before God as there was always one more sin to confess. Luther sought counsel from older monks and leaders. Johann von Staupitz often heard Luther’s confession. He advised Luther to teach and dig into God’s word. Luther threw himself into study even more, seeking a distraction from his fear of himself. Luther stumbled upon Romans 1:16 and commented in a later writing, that in this passage the gates of Heaven opened to him in a true and lasting way. “The gospel is the power of God for salvation for all people... the righteous will live by faith”. Here Luther realized it was not about our inner striving and efforts, but God had done it for us in Jesus. We live by faith! We trust in what God has done.

{REFLECT}

In which ways do you identify with Luther?

What have been the highs and lows of your spiritual journey?

How often do you think about the consequences of your sin?

Read Romans 1: 16-17. Think about and discuss these verses.

What comfort do they offer?


1517

{The 95 Theses}

Luther’s recovering of the gospel with Romans 1:16-17 ignited a fervor to share the good news of freedom in Christ. Sadly, the church had strayed and Luther saw many abuses of God’s Word. In hopes to start a conversation with pastors and church leaders Luther posted 95 statements on the church door in Wittenberg,Germany on October 31, 1517. He was most concerned with the church selling indulgences, and sending people on pilgrimages as forms of forgiveness. Luther saw that people were not being pointed to Jesus as their source of hope and grace. Instead they were taught to rely on relics and their works. Myconius, a monk, who later became a Lutheran, wrote: “The sufferings and merits of Christ were of little account. Great stress, however, was put upon the necessity to do, not what God had commanded in His Word, but what the monks and priests had invented because these works brought money into the treasury.” Luther wanted to draw people back to Christ and God’s work of grace in
their lives.

{REFLECT}

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. What comfort does this passage offer?

How did Luther challenge the popular ideas in a healthy way? 

What can we learn from this for ourselves? 

Share a time when it was hard to stand up for what was right?

Reflect on the church and your personal life. What areas could be reformed in the church or your life today?


1521

{Diet of Worms}


Luther’s posting of the 95 theses caused quite a stir. He boldly contined to write about concerns he had with the church. This pormoted Emperor Charles V to call for an official meeting of the whole empire in Worms, Germany to discuss Luther’s writings. Due to Luther’s strong stance against indulgences and others topics, many within the Catholic Church called for Luther to ‘take back” what he had said. Luther asked for the night to consider his response. Luther knew that if he held to his writings he would be labeled a heretic and would most likely put himself and others who helped him, at physical risk. The following day he reappeared before the council and replied “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.” Luther sealed his fate with this response. Luther was labeled a heretic and enemy of the state. If caught he would face life in prison and lose all his earthly posessions. Thankfullly he had slipped out of town before the sentencing, he became a wanted man.

{REFLECT}

Read Romans 5:6-9. What was our condition before Christ died
for us? 

Have you ever felt uncomfortable standing up for something you believed? Write or share it.

Name people or a group you can pray for who stand up for what
is right.


1522

{VDMA}

Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum [The Word of the Lord Endures Forever] is the motto of the Lutheran Reformation; a confident expression of the enduring power and authority of God’s Word. The motto is based on 1 Peter 1: 25. It first appeared in the court of Frederick the Wise in 1522. He had it sewn onto the right sleeve of the court’s official clothing, which was worn by prince and servant alike. It became the official motto of the Smalcaldic League. It was used on flags, banners, swords, and uniforms as a symbol of the unity of the Lutheran laity who struggled to defend their beliefs, communities, families, and lives against those who were intent on destroying them. It was found inscribed inside churches, over doorways, on foundation stones, even on horse’s helmets! The VDMA logo and statement has appeared throughout Lutheran churches worldwide and remains an enduring motto of the Reformation to this day. 

{REFLECT}

Read 1 Peter 1:22-25.

What two things are important about the word of God?

Why do you think this verse was so powerful for these men and rulers in their context?

How does this verse encourage or challenge you today?


The Catechism

As the years of the reformation passed Luther spent much of his time in hiding. He assumed the alias Sir Junker Jorge, and hid at the castle in Wartburg and later Wittenberg. On occasion he secretly visited villages  where his writings were used and studied, to help in teaching about faith and the Christian life. During these visits Luther learned that instruction of children and the average person was very poor. At this time in the world there were very few public schools, and most children did not receive much, if any, formal education. Parents tried to teach their children. A booklet which contains the ABC’s, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and a number of other prayers, served as a manual for the instruction of children.  Philip Melanchthon, who had been visiting congregations with Luther, wrote: “What can be offered in justification, that these poor people have at this time been left in such ignorance and stupidity? Who would not mourn to see the faculties of man so utterly neglected, and that his soul, which is able to learn and grasp much, does not even know anything of its Creator and Lord.” This led Luther to write the Large and Small Catechisms. In these were basic lessons for parents to teach their children and pastors to teach their congregations.

{REFLECT}

Look at the table of contents in your catechism. What are the main teachings of faith?

How do these six teachings give a basic road map for the
Christian life?


Which teaching sticks out most to you? Spend time together reading more about this teaching.

1529


Marburg Colloquy

Despite widespread support of the Reformation, leaders still disagreed over certain points of doctrine. Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli met with six other teachers of the reformation to talk about the Lord’s Supper, on October 1- 4, 1529, at Marburg Castle. 
Princes wanted unity and clarity on what was to be taught and preached in their regions. This desired unity did not happen, and led to the two modern views of the Lord’s Supper. Luther argued for ‘real presence in, with, and under’ the bread and wine. For Luther, Jesus’ words “this is” meant just that. If God was able to create something out of nothing in the beginning, and Jesus was able to speak miracles and raise people from the dead, why couldn’t he unite his body and blood with bread and wine? Zwingli argued for a symbolic view. He felt that the real presence was too illogical, and that Christ could not be physically present in all these places at once. Instead he argued that when we take communion we are “reminded” of Christ’s once for all sacrifice and the forgiveness of sins won there. To this day, one of the main difference between a Lutheran and many other Christian groups is our view of the Lord’s Supper.

{REFLECT}

What are the pros and cons of both views of the Lord's Supper?

What other seemingly "illogial" claims are made in the Bible?

Why does this difference in belief on the Lord's Supper matter? 

1529


Diet of Augsburg

Thirteen years had passed since the beginning of the reformation. The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, called on the Princes and Territories in Germany to explain their religious convictions in an attempt to restore religious and political unity in the Roman Empire and rally support against the Turks (Muslims), who were invading territories all around the empire. Many who followed Luther’s
teachings were excited and happy to share their teachings, hoping that they would now have a chance to discuss their concerns and reconcile with the Catholic Church. Although the invitation was couched in very peaceful language, some were suspicious and Luther did not attend because he was still an outlaw. Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Justus Jonas, and Johannes Bugehagen came together in a different location to write a presentation of their beliefs. On June 25th, 1530 in Augsburg, German princes and pastors came before the council at the Diet of Augsburg and presented their confession. The princes requested that the confession be read publicly, but that was refused. They had hoped to have a chance to discuss and debate, but soon realized that would not happen. Luther and other reformers continued to teach boldly,  we still celebrate them today.

{REFLECT}

Read Matthew 10: 26-33. How does this passage make you feel? What does this predict? What hope does it offer? 

Consider memorizing John 16:33.

Read 1 Timothy 1:5. Paul instructs Timothy to love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith. How can we apply Paul’s instructions as we love those who oppose us? What are some of the challenges of loving people in our world? 

How can we be praying for people in our world this week?

1530


1530

Luther's Rose

Black Cross and Red Heart:  This is to remind me that it is faith in the Crucified One that saves us. Anyone who believes from the heart will be justified (Romans 10:10). The black cross mortifies and causes pain, but it leaves the heart its natural color. It doesn’t destroy nature, that is to say, it does not kill us but keeps us alive, for the just shall live by faith in the Crucified One (Romans 1:17). 

White Rose: This is to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace—it puts the believer into a white, joyous rose. Faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). This is why the rose must be white, not red. White is the color of the spirits and angels (Matthew 28:3; John 20:12). 

Sky Blue Field: This symbolizes that a joyful spirit and faith is the beginning of a heavenly, future joy, which begins now, but is grasped in hope, not yet fully revealed. 

Golden Ring: The ring symbolizes that blessedness in heaven lasts forever and has no end. Heavenly
blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and better than any possessions, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal. 

{REFLECT}

What part of this picture speaks to you most? Why? 

Read Ephesians 2: 4-6. 

List the actions God has taken on our behalf. What is it about our condition that made it necessary for God to do all
the saving?

Continue reading verse 7. What do we discover is God’s continuing plan for our future? 

Is there an area in your life that is difficult right now, an area in which you are praying God will do this? How does this verse provide comfort. Share if you are comfortable.