When Martin Luther was deep in his spiritual battles, his mentor encouraged him to turn to Scripture. Through the pages of Scripture, Luther came to realize that the righteousness of God is not something we obtain out of our own efforts but rather it is God’s gift to us through Christ. This is the gospel message: we are made right with God through Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Ephesus, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Through Luther’s study of Scripture, he encountered the good news of Jesus Christ. Consider your own life. What key passages of Scripture have shaped your understanding of the gospel? Take some time now to read some of those passages. If you aren’t sure where to start, read Romans 1:16–17 or Ephesians 2:8–9. As you read, what do you notice? What stands out to you? What truth does God want to speak to you today?
Like Luther, have you ever wrestled deeply with your faith? Have you ever struggled to understand God’s Word? If you have had a time of deep wrestling in your life, how did God reveal himself to you as you turned to Scripture? Are you in that process right now? What is God saying to you?
In their reform efforts, both Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli lifted up the authority of Scripture. They claimed authority was found not in church leaders or church councils but in God’s Word alone. What does it mean that Scripture has authority over us? Consider your life. How does Scripture guide and direct your relationships? How does God’s Word direct your work? Your play and recreation? Your finances? Your politics? In other words, how does God’s Word hold authority over your life? Are there areas in your life that you need to submit again to God’s commands and way of life as revealed in Scripture? Spend a few moments in silence listening for what the Holy Spirit wants to graciously reveal to you.
At times in our lives we turn to Scripture, and our prevailing beliefs are challenged. Perhaps God’s Word is now calling into question a long-held belief or bias of yours. Are you willing to submit to the authority of Scripture? It is a humbling process to submit ourselves to. But in the Protestant Reformation we see the possibilities when we allow God to redirect our understandings and beliefs.
In his earlier years, Luther saw God as wrathful and ready to strike him down because of his sin. But during Luther’s spiritual journey, he came to a different understanding of God.
If someone said to you, “Tell me what God is like,” what would you say? What unfiltered words immediately come to your mind? What has shaped your understanding of who God is? What influences have been in your life, both positive and negative? Now consider this: how does Scripture reveal to us who God truly is? We are reminded through Martin Luther’s story that God has revealed Himself to us through Scripture. And what do we find of God in Scripture? As we read in Romans, God’s kindness leads us to repentance (2:4). The psalmist declares, “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you” (Psalm 86:5 niv). Ultimately, Scripture points us to Jesus Christ. At one point during his earthly ministry, Jesus said, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39 niv). Ultimately, God reveals Himself to us through the Word of God, His Son, Jesus Christ. In Christ, we find the fullness of God in bodily form (Colossians 2:9). The visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). Do you want to know what God is like? Look to Jesus.
What does God want to say to you today about who God is? What aspect of God’s character does God want to remind you of today? Spend a few moments in the silence simply asking God to reveal Himself to you.