When Martin Luther pounded his 95 theses on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517, he was trying to reform the corrupt Roman Catholic church.
The impotence for this decision 500 years ago was the arrival of Johann Tetzel who was selling indulgences on behalf of the Pope who was raising money to renovate St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.
The purchase allowed people to buy their way into heaven. They could even buy it for a deceased friend or relative.
Tetzel said, “Once the coin into the coffer clings, a soul from purgatory springs.”
In his 95 theses. Luther wrote that the Bible, not the Pope or traditions of the church, was the final authority for the believer. It stated that a person could not buy his way into heaven, salvation was based on faith alone.
Luther who had his doctorate in theology and was teaching a the University of Wittenberg was struck by a passage in Romans that righteousness could only come through faith, not money:
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17 NASV)
However, the Roman Catholic church was not interested in reform and quickly turned on Luther accusing him of heresy and called for this renegade monk to recant. Luther refused birthing the Protestant church.
But from his study of the Bible, Luther was also convinced the same faith that led to salvation could be used for divine healing.
In his book, This Day in Religion, Ernie Gross tells the story of the divine healing of Friedrich Myconius a coworker of Martin Luther in the reformation.
Friedrich who pastored in Gotha and Leipzig, Germany fell deathly ill in 1540 and by the description it sounded like he had tuberculosis, a death sentence in that day. As he became increasingly ill, Friedrich was unable to speak and finally in trembling hands wrote a letter to Martin Luther as a last good-bye to his coworker in Christ.
When he received the news, Luther immediately responded with a letter of faith proclaiming healing for his friend:
“I command thee in the name of God to live because I till have need of thee in the work of reforming the church… The Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead, but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name God.”
Myconius said that as soon as he read Luther’s words, he was instantly healed and would actually outlive Luther by two months.
Yet despite the protestant church starting on this foundation of faith in salvation and divine healing, there are a many Christians today who don’t believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, divine healing and ministries such as the prophet and apostle.
Yet, they still believe in salvation by faith.
It can be traced back to the influence of an American Plymouth Brethren minister John Darby (1800-1882). He developed and preached a message of dispensationalism that would sweep the church of the day.
It taught that the Bible was broke up into different dispensations where God moved in a unique way. What happen in one dispensation did not apply in the next.
In the early church, they believed in divine healing, spiritual gifts, apostles and prophets. But Darby insisted that we lived in a different age, the end times, and divine healing and the spiritual gifts were no longer in effect.
Darby was also one of the first to promote the pre-trib rapture that believes Christians are caught up to heaven before the end-times judgements fell.
In my opinion, dispensationalism is one of the great heresies to hit the modern church.
Fortunately, God was not done and through a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Azusa street in Los Angeles in 1906 restored the gifts of the Holy Spirit and divine healing.
Healing is for today, so pray for the sick, just as Martin Luther did.
- Friedrich Myconius:Wikipedia
- How Martin Luther gained the faith for supernatural miracles: Charisma News
- Martin Luther: Christianity Today