Martin Luther Finds Grace

A short, stocky teenager named Martin Luther was like a lot of other boys. He enjoyed a good time, loved music and the beautiful outdoors, played an instrument, and worked hard enough at his studies to be able to make it into law school. You?d have thought he had everything going for him. But no matter how good things looked on the outside, he couldn?t find peace in his heart. You see, his parents and the folks at church had taught him that in order to make it to heaven he had to 1) do enough good deeds and 2) pay off his bad deeds. But no matter how hard he tried, doubts and fears plagued Martin because even though he was a good kid, he could never be certain that he?d been good enough deserve heaven. After feeling really down for about six months, he was walking to the university one day when a storm suddenly developed and a bolt of lightning struck him to the ground. Assuming that God was trying to get his attention, he decided to do the most sacrificial thing that he could in order to be on God?s good side. He vowed to become a monk. It didn?t matter that the decision enraged his dad and disappointed his teachers. He figured you don?t fool around with God. So he didn?t waste any time. In two weeks he entered a monastery. And not just any monastery, an especially strict monastery. And Martin wasn?t just any monk. He was an especially strict monk. Martin wanted to do everything possible to make sure he could avoid hell and achieve heaven. He wore rough clothing and limited his food, sometimes not eating at all for three days straight. He worked by day, had devotions at night, prayed seven times a day, and committed not to marry. Do you get the picture? This was no Carnival Cruise Ship. If anyone could have worked his way to heaven, Martin could have. But do you know what? Even after ten years of incredible performance for God in the monastery, he still couldn?t find peace. How could he ever know if he had remembered to confess every single sin, or if he had confessed each one sincerely enough? Eventually, he began to hate God ? this all-powerful judge that he could never satisfy. But everything changed when Martin was given the responsibility of teaching the Bible. By listening more to what the Bible said about God than believing what other people told him about God, he began to slowly discover what he had totally missed his whole life ? the grace of a loving God. His change of mind began when he was teaching Psalms. In one prophetic psalm showed him that the Son of God came to earth and experienced what it?s like to be forsaken by God. Jesus had experienced the same forsaken emotion that Martin felt! Finally he began to see the mercy of God. Then he began to teach the book of ?Romans? and discovered that salvation didn?t come by our own good deeds. Instead God forgives us only by His grace because of Jesus? death for us. Now it all made sense. He no longer had to work for his salvation! He no longer had to wonder if he had done enough to earn heaven. Jesus had already paid his way! Martin Luther was never again the same. Finally he could get excited about his gracious God. Finally he could find the peace he had always sought. In fact, he got so excited that he stood against the corrupt, powerful church of his time. He put his life on the line by defying both his religious and civil authorities, starting a spiritual revolution that has impacted us to this day. A lot of his life reads like an action/adventure movie. He sometimes had to disguise himself to avoid being murdered. Once his friends kidnapped him and took him to live in a castle for his own safety. One day the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire ordered him to appear before a meeting of princes and other important people, who demanded that he deny his teachings. But he stood his ground before the Emperor and said, ?Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason?I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise.? Today, over 400 years after Luther?s death, he is considered one of the most influential men who ever walked the face of the earth. He?s in your school history texts because you can?t understand Western Civilization without understanding Martin Luther. He changed the course of religious history, both for the Catholic and Protestant church. He wrote songs that are still sung today. People still study his books. Web sites are devoted to him. But he would have never left his mark on the world had he failed to discover God?s grace. Do you want to be a mover and shaker and leave a mark on the world like Luther? Do you want to have his boldness to make your stand when it seems everyone else is falling? To share his impact and power, you?ve first got to tap into his discovery of grace. (Sources: Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, Abingdon Press, Nashville, pp. xii-63; World Book Encyclopedia) ? Copyright 2002 Steve Miller - All Rights Reserved

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