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n 1505, Martin was returning to Erfurt  sought. He visited every shrine he could
            when a violent thunderstorm broke  find in the city. He even climbed the Scala
        Iout, causing him to fear for his life.  Santa, the famed staircase brought to
        Instinctively, he cried out to Saint Anne,  Rome in the fourth century, reputed to
        the patron saint of coal miners (Martin’s  be the very steps which Christ climbed in
        father was a miner). His prayer was that if  Pilate’s judgment hall. Luther knew that
        she would help him, he would become a  indulgences had been promised for each
        monk. The storm subsided and Martin kept  step climbed by a pilgrim on his knees. But
        his word. He withdrew from his university   his Rome visit ended and Martin Luther
        studies in law and entered an Augustinian   departed still without peace.
        monastery.                             While on the faculty at the University
          In his quest for God’s favor, Martin   of Wittenberg, Luther gave lectures on
        Luther did all that was humanly possible   Romans, where he was confronted by that
        to achieve it. He fasted for days at a time.   text again – “The just shall live by faith.”
        He refused blankets at night and nearly   But now he had to teach what it meant.
        froze to death doing penance. He often   Soon the light of God’s truth struck him,
        beat his body thinking that such suffering   far more powerful than the storm which
        would gain the favor of the Almighty. He   had earlier struck him to the ground. We
        went to confession so many times that   are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone,
        finally the priest told him to either go out   not by human efforts (Eph 2:8-9). Later
        and commit a sin worth confessing or stop   he wrote, “I began to understand that the
        coming. Later he wrote, “If ever a monk got   righteousness of God is that by which the
        to heaven by his monkery it was I. If I had   righteous lives by a gift of God, namely
        kept on any longer, I should have killed   by faith. Here I felt that I was altogether
        myself with vigils, prayers, readings and   born again and had entered paradise itself
        other work.” 1                       through open gates.” Luther obtained the
          One day in 1508, in his tiny room, he   peace he sought because justification is by
        was reading the book of Romans and came   faith (Rom 5:1) and not by works.
        to 1:17: “The just shall live by faith.” He
        pondered the possibility. Was faith alone   And so was ignited the spark of the
        enough?                              Reformation.  Soon  Luther’s  95  theses
          In 1510, he was sent to visit Rome to   would be posted on the door of the castle
        appeal for reform among the Augustinian   church, and all Europe would be set on fire
                                             with his exposure of a false gospel and his
        monks. Luther was ecstatic. Surely visiting   biblical understanding of justification by
        the holy city would bring the peace he   faith. Let us never surrender the precious
        ¹ Quotations and biographical material are   truth that Luther and others recaptured,
        adapted from Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life
        of Martin Luther (New York, NY: Penguin Books,   that salvation “is by faith so that it may be
        1995).                               by grace” (Rom 4:16).

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