The Scriptures are clear that the actions of One unique individual affected His people for time and eternity. The writer of Hebrews tells us thatÂ Christ, “by Himself, made purification for our sins,” through the one offering up of Himself on the cross.Â But, the Bible is equally clear about how the actions of his people can have a ripple out effect on the lives of the church throughout the centuries. Such was the case with Martin Luther. On October 31, 1517 (493 years ago), Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Acting on the persuasions of his conscience, and a desire to defend the Gospel of grace, the Augustinian monk single single-handedly set fuel to one of the greatest and most influential movements the world has ever seen. Every Protestant minister throughout the world has been-whether they are conscious of it or not–effected by the actions of this one man. The difficulty of what he endured for the sake of Christ must not to be underestimated. Only one year after posting the ninety-five theses Luther wrote a dear friend these words:
I am expecting the curses of Rome any day. I have everything in readiness. When they come, I am girded like Abraham to go I know not where, but sure of this, that God is everywhere.
In response to this letter, Luther’s mentor and friend Johann Von Staupitz wrote him with these telling words:
The world hates the truth. By such hate was Christ crucified, and I do not know what there is in store for you if not the cross. You have few friends, and would that they were not hidden for fear of the adversary. Leave Wittenberg and come to me that we may live and die together. The prince [Frederick] is in accord. Deserted let us follow the deserted Christ.
Had Luther feared man, rather than God, the Reformation might not have had the impact it did. The Western world, as we know it, might not have seen the missionary advances of the Gospel, and we may not be in the place we are today. While we recognize that it is Christ–not Luther–that turned the world upside down, we must also acknowledge that it was through faithful men like him that the world was turned upside down by the preaching of the Gospel. May we learn to be Christians of courage and conviction for the name and fame of our Savior Jesus Christ. Who knows what our God will do with even a single day’s actions if we remain faithful to Him.