October 31st is Reformation Day for Christians. On this day in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church. These were his protest against the indulgences of the Catholic church. He didn't believe that you could bargain or buy your way into heaven and this is what the Catholic church was teaching. They were taking advantage of the people and Martin Luther had had enough.
Martin Luther was a German monk in Erfurt, Germany. He was totally dedicated to his God and in his service. He would starve himself and spent hours on his cell floor, arms stretched out in a cross confessing his sins and seeking Gods forgiveness, but still he never found peace in his heart. He tried to be perfect and earn his salvation, but it wasn't until the rector of the Augustinian order explained salvation to him did he begin to understand that his salvation was a free gift from God through his faith in Jesus Christ. He told him that God was not angry with him for his sin, but that he loved him. He then sent him to the university in Erfurt to become a priest and to teach.
Luther enjoyed his life as a priest and was thrilled when he was sent to Rome on business. But Rome was not as holy as Luther expected it to be. The monks openly ridiculed the saints, jokes were made of the sacraments by the priests. But even in Rome Martin did not lose his faith in God. But now, he had some doubt about the church authority. He went home and began to study God's Word with a passion that he had never experienced before. Over time in his studies he began to realize that the scriptures did not teach that one earned their salvation by good works. He realized that salvation only came by believing in the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. All that the church was teaching was not what the scriptures he was reading. He began to teach what he was learning at the University and this really caused sparks to fly.
To make a really long story short (which you can go here to read more), the church kicked Martin Luther out and he had to hide for several years. It was during this time that other priest began to question the Catholic church's teaching and began to uprise. Many lost their life, others escaped. While Martin was in hiding he began to translate the Latin Bible into German. He believed that anybody should be able to read and study the scriptures themselves.
Martin Luthers' boldness to stand and fight for truth marked the beginning of the Reformation Church also known as the Protestant church. Martin Luther paved the way for other reformers to come in and carry on the work of teaching other about the grace of God. Works are not what get you into Heaven, it is only God's grace.
Martin Luther was also known for his hymns. The most popular hymn that he is still remembered for is also called the Battle Hymn of the Reformation or better known as A Mighty Fortress is our God (you can also listen at this link) Here is Steve Green singing on You Tube. This hymn is my favorite of all the hymns!
So why is any of this important? Who really cares about a man who rebelled against the Catholic church over 400 years ago? I think that as parents it is really important for us to pass on to our kids our Christian heritage and knowing about people like Martin Luther is an important in our christian history. You better appreciate the sacrifices made by these men. Learning how God used people even 400 years ago to spread his love and teach his grace helps us to understand that he can use us also.
Teach your kids the message of Luther, God does not change! His Grace is forever and his love is abundant.
Here are a few websites to use with your kids to teach them about Martin Luther and the Reformation.
~ Love to Learn
~ Reformation Activities
~ Reformation Day resources (scroll all the way down the page)
~ More History on Luther
~ Read Luthers writings, hymns and learn about other reformers
Some of our favorite books on this are:
"Martin Luther, The German Monk who changed the World" (Heroes of Faith & Courage series) by; Ben Alex.
Also, "Martin Luther, A Man Who Changed the World"