For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”Romans 1:16–17 (ESV)
One of the best courses I took in college was Reformation history—and this was not at a Christian school, but a secular university. Our professor’s enthusiasm brought us into the time, and into the heart of the conflict and the courage of Martin Luther.
“On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther tacked up 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg. With this act, he hoped to provoke a discussion among the scholars about the abuses of the indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church. He was not trying to create a public furor by any means, but within a fortnight, these theses had spread through the country like wildfire. The last thing Luther had in mind was to start some kind of major controversy, but nevertheless major controversy did begin.
“From the discussions at Wittenberg, the disputations began to accelerate and escalate…In 1520 a papal encyclical was issued which condemned Martin Luther as a heretic…
“…Martin Luther picked up his pen to challenge the entire penitential system of the Roman Catholic Church, which undermined in principle the free remission of sins that is ours in the gospel. By doing so, he was unswervingly advocating his commitment to sola fide, the doctrine of justification by faith alone…”
If you’re not familiar with the dramatic events that followed at the Diet of Worms, Dr. Sproul unfolds them at the above link. It was there, upon being asked if he would recant, Luther replied,
“Unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture or by evident reason, I cannot recant, for my conscience is held captive by the Word of God, and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.”
Dr. Sproul writes, “And with that there was an instant uproar.”