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“Faith Alone” was one of the cries of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s. It was not that Martin Luther discovered a new doctrine of justification by faith. It was that he rediscovered the doctrine that was lost by centuries of church tradition and ritual. The story of Luther parallels the story of the apostle Paul in the early days of Christianity.
The apostle Paul was a Pharisee. He was zealous for the law and persecuted Christians. He was wreaking havoc in the early Church when he had a dramatic conversion experience that is recorded in Acts 9. He met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus and life as he knew it changed forever. He became an ardent supporter of the Church, and writer of much of the New Testament. He came to realize that one is not saved by keeping the Law, but by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote “the just shall live by faith” in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11.
Fast forward fifteen centuries and we meet Martin Luther. As a Catholic monk, he was doing all he could to find salvation. He prayed, fasted, and confessed his sins for hours at a time. He did penance and all the rest to gain merit in the eyes of God. But the sin and guilt remained. He even visited Rome hoping that maybe he could find peace there. It didn’t happen. He went home, back to his lectures and preaching.
While translating Romans 1:16-17, the truth of justification by faith hit his heart and mind with a clarity he had never seen before. He realized that faith is a gift that God gives and cannot be attained by works. Join us Sunday as we look at Faith Alone!