For it is by grace
you have been saved, 
through faith—and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—not by works, 
so that no one can boast.~Romans 1:17 NIV

500 yearsI love candy and I loved dressing up as a kid so, Halloween was one of my favorite days on the calendar. Some of my fondest memories were the costumes mom made for my sister Lori and me.  I’ll never forget my Raggedy Ann outfit. The wig had single stands of red yarn glued on to different lengths that must’ve taken mom hours to make.

Raggedy AnnIt’s hard to imagine this time of year was celebrated so differently in the past. Traditionally, Christians have celebrated martyrs and Saints on November 1st. Through the ages it’s been called All Hallows, or All Saints Day.  Some believers still take this time to honor the lives of Christians who have gone on to glory or in some denominations, they celebrate those deemed as Saints…with a capital ‘S’.1

500 Years of Freedom {Through Grace}

Martin Luther500 years ago, on October 31, 1517 what the people at the time called All Hallow’s Eve; a thirty-three year old German monk named Martin Luther made the boldest move of his life, inspired by the most fearful time of his life.

While studying Law in University, Martin walked home during a thunderstorm.  It was one of those scare-the-life-right-out-of-you, make-a-deal-with-God times where Luther promised God if He got him out alive, he would become a monk. After this event Luther became obsessed with making sure he would go to heaven when he died.

Sadly, the traditions of the church during Luther’s time taught a works based salvation. They talked about the need to put your faith in Christ but then there came along with that faith a whole catalogue of rules to follow.  The list was so long that it seemed impossible to ever be good enough for God. They were adding to the Bible, making more hoops for people to jump through for salvation.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the church had become corrupt and was preying on the fears of Christians to make money. Believers who wanted to be assured that their family members made it out of purgatory and into heaven could pay money to the Priests for something they called ‘Indulgences’…essentially, you could pay for salvation.  Oh, how I wish history didn’t repeat itself but unfortunately I see these same patterns at work today.2

Martin Luther wanted so desperately to be assured of his salvation that he was known to spend a great deal of time in the confessional booth…sadly, never feeling forgiven.  Luther even slept in the snow as a form of penance.3 One night while struggling with the fear of not being good enough for God Martin read Romans 1:17 and it changed his life…it changed mine…I hope it’s changed yours too!

Romans 117

Every light bulb over Luther’s head came on and he understood for the first time that,

God offered salvation by grace…not by works!

He began to see the Scriptures in a new light and realized his salvation was sure; not because he was good enough but because of the work of Jesus on the cross and the grace being given to him through faith in Christ…simple faith.

95 ThesesMartin Luther couldn’t keep this discovery to himself.  He had to let others know the freedom in Christ he’d found so, on that fateful All Hallow’s Eve, Martin walked up to the University Chapel in Wittenberg, Germany and nailed what’s famously called The 95 Theses to the front door.4,5 500 years ago, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses started what’s known as the Protestant Reformation. A document he’d written outlining the wrongful teachings of the church and how salvation is a work of grace.  A bold move that almost cost him his life!

History reveals that human nature always reverts back to following a list of rules if people don’t continue to be led by the spirit of God.  I believe that the millennial generation is going through a reformation of their own.  They aren’t satisfied to stay in churches that enforce a ‘Christian Rulebook’.  They want authentic faith…and so do I.  Some may see them as living loose, but I’m starting to see how many are just ‘living free, loving Jesus’…like Luther did.

My Faith Quote

My faith in 2017 is a direct result of Luther’s courageous move 500 years ago.  I’m amazed when I think about that and I ask myself:

What bold move can I make that will leave a legacy of faith for generations to follow?

I hope you ask yourself that too!


Father…I’m so thankful for my salvation through your grace. It’s something I don’t deserve, but a gift I gladly receive.  I’m also thankful for people of faith like Martin Luther who lived a bold life for You.  Help me to break free from the bondage of following rules instead of following You. Let the truth of your grace inspire me to live courageously, leading others to You.  In Jesus Name…Amen

[tweetthis]Father…help me break free from the bondage of rules.[/tweetthis]

Soul H2O bookIf you liked the refreshing in this #SoulH2O devotion, you’ll love my latest Soul H2O Devotional book: 40 Thirst Quenching Devotions for Women. 

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Drawing from the well

  1. 1. Romans 1:17
  2. 2. Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
  3. 3. Habakkuk 2:4
  4. 4. Galatians 3:11
  5. Website Accessed:  2017-10-29
  6. Website Accessed: 2017-10-22
  7. Website Accessed: 2017-10-29
  8. Website Accessed: 2017-10-22
  9. Website Accessed:  2017-10-22 
Sherry Stahl