As a German Monk and ordained Roman Catholic Priest, Martin Luther had become disenchanted with many of the teachings and customs of the Church. The most important issue for Luther was the doctrine of Justification – God's act of declaring a sinner righteous – by faith alone through God's grace. He began to teach that salvation is a gift of God's grace, attainable only through faith in Jesus. He was particularly put off by the sale of "indulgences" (The teaching that justification could be obtained by donating money to the church). He was also put off by the wealth of the Pope and by the great wealth of the Church and the building of the opulent St. Peter's Basilica on the backs of its poor members. When a papal envoy came to Germany selling indulgences in 1516 it pushed Luther over the edge.
It was on October 31, 1517 (496 years ago today) that he sent a letter to his bishop, protesting, not only the sale of indulgences, but many other grievances with false doctrine and actions of the Pope. The letter contained what has come to be known as the "Ninety - Five Theses", a document that provided the fuel for the Protestant Reformation.
Luther wrote and traveled extensively lecturing on the Psalms, Romans, Galatians and other books of the Bible that plainly taught Justification by Grace through faith in Christ alone. He was eventually excommunicated by the Catholic Church. Perhaps one of Luther's most important contributions was his translation of the Bible from Latin into the language of the common man. Luther also wrote many hymns, including "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God".
Luther, and the other reformers left us the rich legacy of the "Five Solas", which articulated five fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice.
- Sola Scriptura - "By Scripture Alone"
- Sola Fide - "By Faith Alone"
- Sola Gratia - "By Grace Alone"
- Sola Christus - "Through Christ Alone"
- Sola Deo Gloria - "Glory to God Alone"