In the words of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “the reformation changed the entire course of history.” In his sermon on Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explores the Reformation in its entirety. In this sermon on Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, he begins by looking into the time before the Reformation. Prior to Martin Luther, the world was controlled entirely by the Catholic Church. Everything from religion, to science, to warfare was under the iron fist of the Roman Catholic Church. That is until Martyn Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a Catholic Church and began the Reformation. Luther was at this time a Catholic monk and teacher. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones puts it, he did not originally want to break away from the Church of Rome. All he wanted to do was expose the unbiblical sale of indulgences. However, as Luther studied further in the psalms and epistles, he discovered that we are saved, not by works, but by faith. Luther challenged the doctrine of the Catholic church, saying they practiced things that did not correspond to the Bible, but the Church turned a blind eye. Ultimately, Luther left the Catholic Church for it was too power hungry and profitable to abandon its works based model of salvation. Luther, with only the power of God’s word itself, would then go on to lead the Reformation. Martin Luther’s effect on Christianity would be so great that even today we can see its consequences. However, Dr. Lloyd-Jones does not stop there. He also covers the non-historical importance of the Reformation. He asks the questions, “What is a Christian?” and “How does one become a Christian?” But most importantly, what can we learn from Luther’s one-man stand against the largest organization of his time? To this, Dr. Lloyd-Jones replies, “When everything else is gone, the city of God remaineth.” With God, we can do all things; so like Luther we should fear nothing when we are doing the work of the Lord.
- Dr. Lloyd-Jones is encouraged by the congregation's interest in the Reformation. Many today are ashamed of or avoid discussing the Reformation.
- The Reformation changed the course of history and shaped modern society. It influenced politics, law, literature, science, and emphasized individual conscience.
- On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church to protest indulgences and spur debate. Luther was not initially trying to break from the Catholic Church but correct abuse.
- Indulgences were certificates sold by the Catholic Church to reduce punishment for sins. They were initially granted by the church but later only the pope could grant them. They were sold to fund the building of St. Peter's Basilica.
- Luther prepared lectures on Psalms, Romans, and Galatians which led him to believe in justification by faith alone, not by works or indulgences. He read Augustine and the Bible, not just church tradition.
- Luther had a "tower experience" where he realized righteousness is a gift from God, not earned. This led him to protest indulgences. His 95 theses spread and were attacked, driving him to see more of the pope's errors.
- By 1520, Luther saw the pope as the Antichrist and the Catholic Church as unbiblical. He emphasized scripture alone as the authority, not the pope. He rejected transubstantiation, clerical celibacy, and more.
- Luther was a genius, honest, courageous, and struggled with depression and the devil. His success was due to God, not himself. God prepared the way with earlier dissenters, the Renaissance, the printing press, and rulers upset with the pope.
- We should learn from Luther. Ask what a Christian is and how one becomes a Christian, not how to unite churches. Compromise with Catholicism or liberalism is impossible for evangelicals.
- The Catholic Church has not truly changed and become more biblical. Do not be deceived. To help troubled Catholics, show them the true gospel and errors of Catholicism, not compromise.
- Evangelicals should separate from and not try to reform apostate churches. Come out from them and come together in biblical fellowship. Stand on truth, not popularity. God's city alone will remain.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.