Part 1 – 500 Years? So What!
The Protestant Reformation didn’t just begin with Martin Luther on October 31, 1517, although that is historically the day that he nailed his ’95 Theses’ on the front door of the Wittenberg Cathedral which pushed the accelerator pedal to the floor. Nearly 200 years before Luther, a professor/theologian/priest from England – John Wycliffe – spoke up against the Roman Church’s views on authority, scripture, the Lord’s Supper, and the early practice of the selling of indulgences.
And one hundred years before Luther there was a priest in Bohemia – Jan Hus – who was a follower of Wycliffe – and he also spoke up against the Roman Church’s views on transubstantiation, their view of the pope’s supreme authority, and their view of salvation by grace/faith plus works. He was burned at the stake for his opposing views.
But it was Luther who popularized the need for change (reform) and he did so verbally, but also in print, and accordingly, his views spread throughout Europe causing much unrest within the church.
There were many important issues that the Reformation brought to the table – and they will each be examined over the next five weeks – but the one that was focused on in this introductory message was on the absence of the Gospel during the Middle Ages. Since the Mass was spoken only in Latin; since the clergy were untrained, uneducated (couldn’t read), and not divinely called to their office (most paid for their position – a practice known as simony), the Word of God was not preached, read, or explained, and as a consequence EVERYONE suffered. As can be seen in the key verses – Titus 3:3-8 – the Gospel is very clearly spelled out here and elsewhere – and that Gospel is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone so that God alone would receive all the glory. That’s what we want to look at in the upcoming weeks.