Today is the 500th anniversary of an event which had a tremendous impact on our religious world. This is the 500th anniversary of the event involving Martin Luther and his protest of the religious environment of his day. He nailed his 95 protests or theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany on October 31, 1517.
Although there were several other men, in many locations, involved in a similar movement, Martin Luther’s act is best associated with what is known as The Reformation. There were also men such as John Calvin, John Wesley, John Knox and others. It is called The Reformation because they each had the mindset of reforming the religious institution of their day.
Luther’s 95 protests detailed practices of the Church which he viewed as being out of harmony with the Bible. The protesting movement and the subsequent branches of religion became known as the Protestant Movement. Every religion or church that is part of the Protestant movement can be traced to a beginning that is less than 500 years old. It is important to note the one true church of the Bible is not part of the Protestant Movement; it is not a Protestant church.
My objective today is not to discuss that movement in detail. But I will note, that mindset didn’t just happen overnight; it was years in the making. And therein lies the focus of our thoughts today.
I want to tie two major historical events together in order to draw a very important conclusion.
For our consideration today I’d like to consider what happened 25 years prior to 1517. The year 1492 is widely recognized as the year Columbus discovered America. So what possible connection is there between 1492 and 1517? Between the discovery of America and Martin Luther’s protest?
Let us consider the events that preceded the 1492 discovery, in particular consider the religious atmosphere of the Old World in the years leading to this event. Read the book, Foxe’s Christian Martyrs by John Foxe. Read of the persecution of men such as John Wycliffe and John Huss. Read about Jerome of Prague being burned at the stake while singing hymns. There was much religious persecution at that time. Fleeing this religious persecution was no minor reason for relocating to the New World.
Think of the religious freedoms that followed that discovery in 1492. It may have taken 2 or 3 centuries to develop but this new land afforded opportunities for those wishing to pursue religious freedoms. Whether we want to admit it or not, the fact is, this country was founded by those pursuing religious freedoms. And I might add, they were not pursuing a freedom FROM religion, they were pursuing a freedom OF religion.
I firmly believe GOD’S Hand of Providence was at work in the discovery of America and the eventual founding of our country. Read the accounts of some of the early established colonies and their preservation against all odds. GOD’S Hand was in their preservation.
Who can read the Declaration of Independence and think it was written by man without the blessing of Divine guidance? I am not suggesting it was inspired in the same way the Scriptures are inspired but I am suggesting it was the Providence of Almighty GOD that brought those men together to accomplish the founding of this nation.
The early words of that great document makes the following proclamation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
What interesting thoughts. All men are created equal! Created by a Creator with certain rights! Our rights do not come from men, government, or even great documents. Our rights come from GOD!
I pray GOD’S Hand of Providence will continue to be on our country. I pray our country will remain the great land of the free. A land in which my grandchildren and their children can live free and serve the LORD. I further pray they will strive to be part of the church that had its beginning not within the last 500 years but rather on that great day of Pentecost some 2000 years ago.