It was October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther strolled up to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany (watch the movie "Luther" and he marches up with a purpose) and taking the paper that he had in his hand, a hammer and a nail, he mailed the 95 Theses to the door. Not a metal or glass door but a wooden door - the bulletin board, the Facebook of the day. He wanted to discuss some issues with indulgences, the buying and selling of forgiveness. As his theology continued to develop (not from his desires but as he continued to study the Word of God), he realized that forgiveness is not something that you earn but something that is given to you freely by the grace of God.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it s the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets beat witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law." Romans 3:21-24, 27-28 (ESV)
We cannot and will not ever be able to work our our salvation by the things that we do. And I can hear some saying, "AMEN!" While others are saying, "But..." We thank God that Martin Luther worked so hard to bring the message of salvation by grace through faith back to the forefront. We rejoice that faithful pastors and teachers through the ages have held firmly to this teaching and made it the center of all that they teach. We rejoice that God has raised up faithful men to serve as pastors and men and women to serve as teachers and leaders in our churches. We rejoice that God's Word is our great heritage. We rejoice over the teaching of justification by grace through faith. There is no other doctrine that is central to the message of the Bible, that touches every aspect of our lives and gives hope and peace to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.