LAYTON — Martin Luther showed the world of the 16th century that what the Bible said was, and always should be, more important than what religious leaders and theologians say, an area Lutheran pastor maintains.
Leading up to Reformation Sunday on Oct. 26, the Rev. Jonathan Klein, pastor of Light of the Valley Lutheran Church in Layton, shared his thoughts on Martin Luther and the impact the religious reformer had in his own time and continues to have today.
“If (what religious leaders say) does not line up to God’s word, then we should not believe it,” Klein bluntly said.
“Most importantly, Luther made it so very clear to Christianity of his day that forgiveness of sins was, and always is, a free gift from God that none of us can earn, no matter how hard we try,” he said. “It is this teaching that distinguishes Christianity from every other world religion.”
“It’s not about what you do; it’s about what God has done for you.”
On Oct. 31, 1517, Luther, a Roman Catholic monk, was troubled by the fact that he felt he could never do enough to please God.
He shook the world by posting his 95 Theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg Germany.
Lutheran churches and some other denominations mark Luther’s action with special services on the closest Sunday in October to the date. This year, Reformation Sunday is on Oct. 26.
Klein said that after extensive study, Luther had to reconcile his struggle with Biblical passages like Romans 1:17 and Ephesians 2:8-9 that says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God — not by works so that no one can boost.”
Those theses were meant to bring about debate between the Biblical scholars of the day on the free gift of the forgiveness of sins, Klein said
An unknown person translated the theses from Latin into German so the common people could read them, and with the help of a rather recent invention of the printing press, circulated Luther’s points throughout Germany, Klein said,
At that, the Roman Catholic Church demanded that Luther recant what he wrote about the forgiveness of sin and Luther refused.
“Luther refused with these words, ‘Unless you can prove from the Bible that I have made wrong statements, I cannot, and will not, take back anything. My conscience is bound by the Word of God. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me,’” Klein said.
Luther’s teachings continue to have impact today, Klein said.
“If Luther had not done what he did, would there still be people like Lutherans in the world?,” Klein asked, answering, “If He (God) did not use Luther to return people back to the teachings God gave in his Word, then he would have used someone else to do it.
“What disadvantage it would be for me and the people here at Light of the Valley and all over the world if they could not hear God’s Word or read God’s word in their home language,” he said.
“It was meant for us all. The reformers did great things to bring God’s Word to the everyday person.”