Dear Church Family,
Happy Reformation Day! This day is a special day of remembrance for the Protestant Church. And, this day has some personal significance for me, as well. My full name is Peter Martin Dietsch. As a young boy, I asked my father why he and my mother had given me the names that they did. My father replied, “You were named for Peter, the rock upon whom Christ built His Church; and Martin, the man whom God used to reform His Church.” Though I personally look to John Calvin as the man who refined and best encapsulated the doctrines of the Reformation, I have learned much from Luther’s writings and have great respect for the man who formally began one of the most important turning points in the history of the church.
On October 31st, 1517 Martin Luther published his ninety-five thesis, questioning – among other things – the Church’s teaching and practice of selling indulgences to members of the church (the giving of money to the Church for the purpose of reducing the need for penance in this life and in purgatory). Luther found this doctrine and practice reprehensible and contrary to the Word of God, as well as an abuse of the power which Christ had entrusted to the Church in the giving of the keys of the kingdom.
Here are theses 35-37 from Luther’s initial protest:
35. It is not in accordance with Christian doctrines to preach and teach that those who buy off souls, or purchase confessional licenses, have no need to repent of their own sins.
36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence.
37. Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence.
What a glorious truth this is! Repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ are all that are necessary to enjoy full forgiveness of sins and the privilege of participating in all the benefits of Christ and the Church! Praise God for His promise to build His Church upon the confession that Jesus in the Christ (or Messiah), the Son of the living God, which was first made by the Apostle Peter (Matthew 16:16-18). Indeed, Jesus said that because He is the One who builds His Church, “the gates of Hades will not overpower it!” And, let us praise God for raising up a man who, through a return to the clear teachings of Scripture, reminded the Church to “not be ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch