By Elise Wixtrom, Kids of Courage Student Reviewer
Martin Luther was born in Germany on November 10, 1483. As an adult, Luther became a monk, a man dedicated to the service and study of God. He studied the Bible every day in Latin and subjected himself to punishments when he thought he wasn’t doing well enough. He believed that he could earn his way to heaven by doing good works and tearing himself down.
After many years of legalistic thinking, Luther finally began to understand that he had done it wrong. God wanted his heart, not just his words and actions. In a flash of realization, Luther decided that everyone in the church, not just those who could read the Bible, needed to hear the message of the true grace of God. As Martin Luther’s knowledge grew, he began to notice church practices that directly contradicted the teachings of the Bible. So he set out to fix the problems he saw.
The story is told that on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed a poster to the church door of Wittenberg that listed the 95 problems he had with church tradition. These problems included theological ones (like works above faith), as well as malpractice from clergymen (such as taking money from people, promising them that their gift assured that their loved ones would go to heaven). He knew these things were wrong and should be stopped, so he made a bold move and announced to everyone how destructive they really were.
As a consequence, the church kicked him out and would not let his books be published. They eventually brought him to stand trial for blasphemy at a city named Worms. He bravely said that he could only follow his conscience and God – and if the church came into conflict with the Bible, the church must be at fault. He eventually was freed, however, and he continued writing pamphlets, books, and sermons until the day he died.
We remember Martin Luther today because he, like William Tyndale and many others, was courageous enough to see that, no matter the consequences, he must be truthful and follow his conscience. Neither the church, nor any other establishment, could quiet his voice. He spoke up at his trial, because he knew what he was saying was true, and that the flame of truth, even if he went to prison, could not be extinguished.