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A Look At Martin Luther


Martin Luther

Some points of interest to remind the children of:

-Martin Luther lived more than 400 years ago.

-He grew up at a time when there was only one church. He was taught that church leaders were better and holier than everyone else and people were not allowed to question them or speak out against them.

-When Martin was growing up, he learned to be afraid of God and Jesus. He believed that they were angry and that they would never forgive him of his sins. He was also taught to pray to Mary, Jesus' mother and other saints because he believed he was not good enough to pray directly to Jesus.

-Martin's father sent him to school to become a lawyer so that Martin could support his parents in their old age.

-When traveling back to school one day, Martin was overtaken by a fierce storm. He prayed to the saints, vowing that if his life was spared, he would become a monk. He did not die and within two weeks, he had entered the priesthood.

-Despite constant prayers, fasting, and self-inflicted punishments, Martin still could find no comfort or mercy from God. He still believed that the way to salvation was through good works and that he would never be able to do enough.

-After years of study, Martin finally discovered what had been written in the Bible all along; man is saved by faith alone.

-Martin began to question some of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church.

-The sale of indulgences as a way to buy one's own or a loved one's life out of purgatory.

-The need to go through the saints to talk to God.

-The importance of "relics"

-The way in which the Church did not make the Word of God available to the common people.

-The forbidding of marriage for priests and nuns.

-Martin nailed a list of 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg. This was simply a list of topics that he wished to debate with church leaders. Without his authority, the poster was translated into a number of languages and distributed throughout Europe.

-Martin's 95 Theses brought him to the attention of the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor who were extremely concerned over his questioning of the church. Martin was called to Rome but never went for fear of being found guilty of heresy and being burned at the stake.

-Martin was excommunicated from the Church.

-The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, found Luther guilty of being a "devil in monk's clothing" and declared that he was not to preach or write and that all of his books and writings were to be destroyed. Luther was considered an outlaw. Charles did grant Luther a safe passage home, however he never made it. Luther was kidnapped.

-After leaving his trial at Worms, Luther was kidnapped along the road, but it was by one of his friends and supporters, Prince Frederick. During his "captivity", Luther wrote twelve books and translated the New Testament into German.

-After Luther left his captivity, he remained banned by the emperor and the pope. However he continued to preach in the Reformation Church, also nicknamed the Protestants.

-Luther had begun helping monks and nuns to escape their cloisters and get married. In 1525 he married one of those former nuns - Katharina von Bora, or Katie. They were given Luther's former monastery, the Black Cloister as a home. They had six children of their own and adopted four.

-Luther died in 1546 at the age of 63.

Key Themes Following are some key themes and teaching points to use with the children. These themes should be reinforced whenever possible, although I recognize that this is a difficult story. Even if we are able to get the kids to recognize Luther's name and some of the things he did, we will have accomplished a lot.

-A loving and forgiving God Last month the children learned about sin

- Adam and Eve disobeying God in the Garden of Eden. For many years of his life, Martin Luther focused on sin and God's wrath and judgment. After much study, he finally realized that God is not an angry, wrathful God, but one who loves us and was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice - the death of His only Son to cleanse us of our sins.

-Justification by faith alone Luther learned that the way to Heaven and eternal life is not through good works but through faith in Christ and his death and resurrection as a sacrifice for our sins.

-Take God at His Word Answers to all of our problems can be found in the Bible. God gives us rules by which to live - rules which keep us safe, healthy, and in communication and relationship with Him. He also gives us promises of his grace when we fall short.

-Forgiveness and forgetfulness When we sincerely ask God's forgiveness, not only are our sins forgiven by him, but forgotten as well. The slate is wiped clean.

-The Word of God for everyone The Catholic Church was an authority to the people - and not one to be reckoned with. Questioning the Church, its leaders, or its teachings could mean imprisonment, torture, or even death. The Church also misled its people, teaching them about purgatory and indulgences. Luther believed that the Word belonged to everyone and should be available to all - and so he translated it into German. When Luther taught and preached, he did not always do so in Latin, but often used slang phrases to connect to his listeners.

Thank you again for sharing your gifts with the children this month.

Susan A. Cheatham


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