Caption on the cup reads:
HERE I STAND
Funny thing is, it has a picture of the wrong Martin Luther. Now, there are a number of men who bear that name, but only two (2) stand out. Both were controversial and preachers of the gospel (though one is accused of straying from orthodoxy) – and both had doctorates in theological fields. With all due respect, I dare say, however, that one of the two men outshines the other like the sun outshines the moon and the stars. We live in a dark world, covered by the black fog of ignorance and the dark clouds of unbelief which often bar many from seeing the true Light, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, when the light of the gospel shines, so many do not receive it because they are blind to the light. Church history, which is a very important matter – one that demands both our attention and understanding – seems to have been forgotten, and in some cases distorted.
For us who are known as Protestant Christians, a major event took place exactly 501 years ago (in 1517) in a little town in Germany (Saxony) known as Wittenberg. A lone monk posted (literally, nailed) a document with 95 Theses (topics for discussion) in it on the local church doors, looking to debate these important theological matters – these 95 points became the basis upon which the greater Dr. Martin Luther built his assault upon the errors afflicting the apostate church at the time, which happened to be the Roman Catholic Church. This ultimately led to his excommunication (and being declared a heretic and outlaw) some years later, and in one of the greatest splits of the church ever to happen to date, those who stood for and with Dr. Luther’s greater thesis – that a man is justified by grace alone through faith alone, apart from works – ultimately separated themselves from the Roman Catholic Church, when the efforts to reform her proved null and void. These men became known as the Reformers, though they were also known as the Protestants because they refused to conform to the dead and ungodly practices of Rome.
Many articles and books have been written covering not just this event, but the circumstances surrounding it, the preceding catalysts, and the succeeding outcomes – even the deep effect this Protestant Reformation still has today! The world as we know it now owes a lot to the Reformation efforts, and especially to the great Dr. Martin Luther, a former German monk and priest. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., (on the cup) who lived and died in the 20th Century and that became a great man in his own right, was actually named after this greater Dr. Martin Luther, “heretic” of Wittenberg. We remember the words of Dr. Luther as he stood before the Holy Roman Emperor, the princes and politico-spiritual rulers of this world, under pressure for upsetting the establishment of the day and being forced to recant his writings (and thus, his beliefs). This is what he said in response:
“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have often contradicted each other. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything: for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
In 1517 AD, Martin Luther was as the first raindrop among many other refreshing drops that fell upon parched ground — hence, like that first raindrop cannot receive all the credit but God alone, Who is the Giver of rain, so Dr. Luther is not ultimately credited with this work accomplished by God Himself. The Protestant Reformation saw the reintroduction of the Scriptures back into the hands of the common man, such that a poor farmer boy from the field could read the very same comforting words of the Lord Jesus Christ that the great Christian scholar of old, even the Apostles themselves, had handled, for the salvation of his soul. More was to come in the succeeding centuries. Many godly men still uphold the unadulterated truth, proclaiming it to lost souls and defending the Church’s faith from all manner of foul doctrine threatening to assail her. Yet, even though the outward form of the Protestant Reformation continues to this day the inward reformation of hearts is slowly being forgotten by many of those who claim to succeed the Reformers. The true battle was started by our Lord Jesus Christ, not 500 or 600 years ago, nor even 2,000 years ago (even though the Cross is the MOST significant event in history and especially in Christianity) – true reformation began when He, as God, began separating His own elect from the world, justifying them that they may live by faith. I would submit to you that salvation in whole speaks of greater Reformation than Dr. Luther’s 95 Theses or even the blood of the numerous martyrs that has been unjustly shed by those who would have us remain in bondage to sin and the world! I do not wish to water down the deeds done during those violent years of the enlightenment, but to give them the true foundation of righteousness from whence any good work is acceptable to God since it traces its source in Christ alone. No man can lay any other foundation other than what was laid eternally – the foundation of true Christianity is Jesus Christ Himself! He is the actualization of the Reformation – He gets the due Glory for any act of victorious Reformation, martyrdom and salvation that happens to mankind. The Lord Jesus Christ is the faithful Witness of God, the Author and Finisher of justifying Faith, the true Prophet of God Who came to pin the curse of the law on that Cross and pin the fulfillment of the Law in the door of the hearts of many, the great Defier of dead religion and man-made traditions, the true Goose that was cooked for our edification, the true Giver and Announcer of the Father’s Word toward men, the very Freedom of man’s will, the Savior-God in the flesh, and the Sovereign King that all Christians follow in fulfilling God’s will in their lives. Jesus Christ is the true Gospel and its Revealer. To God alone be the glory and unto the Lamb!
May the Lord Jesus, by His Spirit awaken a new thing in this day that will shake the earth, and change the lives of many for ever. Great will be the day when Christians are convinced of the power of the gospel that brings eternal salvation – convinced enough, by Scripture alone, against all tribulations, to say, “Here I stand, by the grace of God. Amen!”