Martin Luther

Martin Luther (November 10, 1483-February 18, 1546) was born in Eisleben, Germany. He came from a middle-class family; his father was working in the mine and made the plan to send Martin to law school. The story goes a little bit differently. One stormy day while Martin was traveling on the open road, he was so afraid that thunder would strike him. At that instance, he started a prayer and a promise to God: If God spears him, he will devote his life to the Lord. He will become a monk. Without delay, Martin joined the priesthood. His father wasn’t happy with this decision; it was like Martin is not honoring his mother and father.


In the meantime, his journey as a monk begins. After Martin’s reformation, the world would never be the same again.

martin luther, luther, reformation

First trip to Rome

His first days as a monk were very challenging. The devil regularly attacked him, and at that time, Martin didn’t know how to fight. He was angry with God, and he believed that God is displeased with him, too. It was all a lie, of course. His spiritual father, father John, introduced him to Christ. Father John said if you want to see God’s love, look at Christ.


Then there was a time for Martin to travel to Rome. It was his first holy journey. As soon as he got there, he saw a lot of people selling relics and figures of saints. During his stay in Rome, he went to buy an indulgence for his past away grandfather Hendrik Luther. For a coin, you can a piece of paper saying someone is relisted from purgatory and going to Heaven. (Personal note: Purgatory doesn’t exist.)

First disappointment

At that time you could buy almost anything in Rome. They were selling salvation, tickets to heaven, relics, holy water, apparently the pieces from the cross from Golgotha, practically anything. Martin was furious. He was losing his faith.


In the meantime, his spiritual father was planning to send Martin to study theology and be a preacher. His next destination was Wittenberg and doctorate in theology. As his spiritual father wished, later, Martin Luther would become a doctor of theology.

First disagreement

Professor Carlstadt was quoting one of the holy roman saints that said outside of the Holy Roman Church there is no salvation. In other words, only Catholics go to Heaven. Martin asked the professor about Greek Christians. What will happen to them? Do they automatically go to Hell? Professor explained that the text he is referring to is coming from Saint Peter. Since Saint Peter is Christ's representative on the earth, it must be true.

Martin didn’t give up. He asked then, what is with Greek saints? Are they doomed? Some of them were tortured in the name of Christ. Does it look like Greek Christians are outside of salvation? He mentioned the verse, ”And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18, KJV) and two verses before, Matthew 16:16 a foundation of our faith (Christ, the Son of living God).

At this point, Martin Luther questions the authority of the Church. The penalty for that crime, at that time, was death. Martin’s first reformation was about salvation. He said that salvation could be outside of the Holy Roman Church, but not outside of Christ.

Johnn Tetzel

John Tetzel was a messenger of Rome, even the Pope himself, selling the special indulgence granted for the building Saint Peter’s church. In other words, he was selling a piece of paper that was supposed to guarantee eternal life. At that time, people who were Catholics believe that the Pope can save someone from the fires of Hell. Tetzel was very persuasive. Traveling from town to town, raising money for Rome, Tetzel came to Martin’s parish.

Tetzel’s main method was the fear of fires of Hell. The horror was vivid by the play they perform for the people. Screaming voices, emotional blackmail with past deceased relatives were just one of the methods. He used to ask people, do you have a coin for Christ? Who does that? Christ himself never asked for money or anything material. Imagine Martin Luther and his reactions when he saw this indulgence.

95 theses; Die 95 Thesen

The Catholic Church managed to keep complete dominance in religious and secular life in the region of Christian Western Europe without significant problems. It was not until the beginning of the 16th century that the most devastating criticism came of the situation in the Catholic Church. Martin Luther, an Augustinian priest, and now a professor at the University of Wittenberg, openly attacked the church in 1517. He was saying that there should not be a mediator between God and man. Also, he decreased the authority of the Pope and the church. Selling the remission of sins (indulgences) was, for him, contrary to the Christian faith.

Therefore, in 1517, Martin Luther began to fight openly upon indulgences in Wittenberg by hammering 95 theses to the church door! It was the beginning of a great reformation. In 95 theses he presented new principles of Catholic teaching: there should not be a mediator between man and God. He asked if the Pope has the authority to save people from purgatory, then why he does not do so out of love rather than money. It was a really good question. In his teaching, Luther rejected the identification of the seven sacred secrets and proposed three: baptism, repentance, and communion.

After nailing his first work, he sent the letter to the Prince of Frederick. He didn’t want the prince to be compromised and accused by Rome.

Highly Recommended:

Luther's Book: 95 theses

DVD: Luther (2003)

The Protestant Revolution was a major event in European history that split northern Europe from the Catholic Church. The movie Makes you aware of how important Luther was.

Meeting the cardinal

At this point, a cardinal summoned Martin to see him. They’ve explained Martin that he is there to say only that he was wrong. When he sees cardinal, he is supposed to say one word only: I recant (Latin: revoco). Lucky for us, God was using Martin to do reformation in the Christian world. After a short debate, Martin pointed out a disagreement in canon laws and scripts. He was questioning the Pope’s authority.

The Pope is not above the Scripture. The Church laws are not above the Scripture. Dissatisfied with Luther’s teaching and attitude, the Catholic demanded his repentance which he firmly refused.

5 solas

" I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I placed in God’s hands that I still possess. "

Martin Luther

Prince Fredrick of Saxony

After the trial, Prince Frederick saved Martin Luther one more time. He isolated him from the rest of the world and gave him refuge. To help Luther escape, his friend Frederick of Saxony organized a fake kidnapping. Luther was smuggled to an isolated castle in Wartburg, where he let go of his beard and changed his identity – he became a knight. For the next nine months, Martin Luther lived in a castle as a fugitive, hiding from the emperor and the pope. Until the people knew if Martin was still alive, his work and the reformation could not be stopped.

In his isolation, Martin was working on a translation of the New Testament from Greek to German. To have the New Testament in German was serious treason against the Roman Church because ordinary people could read it. The punishment for such crime is death. Rome is feared by most ordinary people. The language of the Bible should be simple and understandable. The book Welterbe Wartburg states that “the time spent in Wartburg was among the most productive periods in his life.” Martin Luther dedicated the translation of the New testament to his dear friend Prince Frederick. That act separated Germany from the Roman church.

The trial

At the trial, they presented all of his books, asking if he is the author. Of course, he was the author. The next question, does he recant? It was a difficult question to answer. If he says yes, then the inevitable will happen, his death. But if he says no, then he will be lying. He believed in his work.

His answer had to be bright. So, what he did next left them speechless. He says I can not deny all of my work because they are not all the same. Some of his work is very useful that even his attackers will say so. To recant those writings would be unimaginable. Other of his work was against the fault church doctrine. He didn’t recent any of his work, and he asked the court to prove by Scripture that he is wrong. The date of the trial was very significant for modern history and the spread of Protestantism.

The trial

After the trial, Prince Frederick saved Martin Luther one more time. He isolated him from the rest of the world and gave him refuge. To help Luther escape, his friend Frederick of Saxony organized a fake kidnapping. Luther was smuggled to an isolated castle in Wartburg, where he let go of his beard and changed his identity – he became a knight. For the next nine months, Martin Luther lived inma castle as a fugitive, hiding from the emperor and the Pope. Until the people knew if Martin was still alive, his work and the reformation could not be stopped.

In his isolation, Martin was working on a translation of the New Testament from Greek to German. To have the New Testament in German was serious treason against the Roman Church because ordinary people could read it. The punishment for such crime is death. Rome is feared by most ordinary people. The language of the Bible should be simple and understandable. The book Welterbe Wartburg states that “the time spent in Wartburg was among the most productive periods in his life.” Martin Luther dedicated the translation of the New testament to his dear friend Prince Frederick. That act separated Germany from the Roman church.

The marriage

The happy ending of Martin’s story was one more reform. As Lord God commanded, be fruitful, and have a spouse. He allowed everyone to marry because, according to the Bible, God is allowing it. Even today, this is one of the differences between Catholic priests and Protestant Pastors. Catholic priests and monks still take the celibate and have no wife. While Pastors and Reverends can marry if they decide to do so. A scandal of the century was when a former monk married a formal nun.

Catherine von Bohr spent more than a decade of her quiet life in monastic schools. Later she became a nun. However, in early 1523, she and the other nuns fled the convent, and Catherine found refuge in the home of Lucas Cranach the Elder, a close friend of Luther’s. She and Martin Luther were married in 1525 and moved into the old Augustinian monastery in Wittenberg. Katarina took care of the household, their six children, managed the money and ran the farm, and also managed a small brewery and even rented a fishpond. Martin Luther gladly called her “my lord Kete,” a sign that she was the chief in the house.

The result of Martin Luther’s work

One of the more important figures in Church history. There are three basic doctrines of Martin Luther’s teaching:

  • justification by faith, 
  • the universal priesthood, 
  • the absolute authority of the Bible.

Moreover, there are “5 Solas”, a crucial for any Christian:

1.   Sola Fide- Faith only

2.   Sola Scriptura- Scripture only

3.   Soli Deo Gloria- God’s glory only

4.   Solus Christos- Christ only

5.   Sola Gratia- Grace only

One of the reasons for the reform is the struggle for the autonomy of the church concerning the growing civil power. On 31 October 2017, 500 years have passed since Martin Luther sent letters to ecclesiastical authorities with the famous 95 theses (Die 95 Thesen) denouncing the Catholic church's trade in indulgences. The Lutheran Reformation stands out for representing not only an event of high theological relevance but also of a political, cultural, and social nature that profoundly influenced the entire formation of Western societies. The reformation was not just about God forever changed not only German society but the whole world.