Martin Luther’s Conversion Experience

There’s a story about Martin Luther, a German monk, priest, and important figure to the birth of the Protestant Reformation in 1517. When he was traveling through a terrible thunderstorm, a lightning strike nearly killed him. He cried out a vow to God that if he survived he would live as a monk. And so he did.

He entered the Augustinian order at Erfurt. He prayed eight times a day, slept little, and performed painful self-infliction for his sins. He was attempting to love God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength. Yet he was miserably bound by the law.

Luther was known for confessing his sins so often that he would stay up all night and the priests would grow weary. Whenever Luther showed up, they would exclaim: “Oh no, Luther is here. We are going to stay up all night now.”

It wasn’t until Luther meditated on Romans 3:20 that he finally understood what God desired from him. “By the works of the law no flesh will be justified in his sight; for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” Finally, Luther came to the brink of his own self-righteousness. He gave up in his works-based religion and asked for justification by faith alone in Christ alone!

As Christians, we can be tempted to view our salvation along with our commitment to attending church, reading the Bible, praying, and evangelizing. Yes, we are called to produce fruit. Faith without works is dead, as the Apostle James said. However, when it comes to our salvation and justification, it’s all the work of Christ. Let’s never forget that!

4 thoughts on “Martin Luther’s Conversion Experience

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  1. Tonight I preached from Acts 13:13-52. It was the part towards the end where I had to get animated (in other words, I got excited!). Those poor Gentiles! Imagine the relief they must have felt when word got to them that they did not have to be circumcised in order to “join the church”? Seriously! So often we take for granted our freedom in Christ, but just think of how burdensome it must have been under the law! No wonder the whole town showed up to hear Paul tell them more šŸ™‚ The joy Luther felt must have been very similar.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Anthony. It is a relief to know we are not bound by the law but that yoke has been carried by our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but He came to fulfill it so he could impart righteousness to us. Praise God for His grace!


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