The Christian Broadcasting Network

Spiritual Life

More Church History

More from Spiritual Life


Lessons from History: Luther to Wesley

By David Littlewood
The Remnant -- SAXONY -- It was on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther, a young Augustinian Monk, tacked to the door of Wittenburg University his statement of faith that went against the norm of religion. How could one know that this man would take half the world with him when he decided to go against the religious authority?

Luther didnt want to go against his elders, but when he saw the wealth of the Vatican crushing the poor he felt compelled to do something. Nailing the 95 Thesis to the Wittenburg University door would do more than just challenge. This call to action was the nail in the wood that would set people free once again.

Was it just a stroke of fate that brought Luther into the priesthood of the Catholic faith? Riding on a horse as a young barrister (lawyer) he was struck by lightening and brought to the sharpening edge of a pen that would change faith and belief over the next 400 years. While his whole family perished in the black death, Luther lived within the boundaries of the monastery to escape death once again. Saxony land would be a battle ground of faith and fury, and the events that would happen there would bring the world to their knees. Luthers papers written on the justification of a mans faith toward salvation would be the one thing that would touch John Wesley of England to change his ways. Once again, going against authority happened, but in the case of Wesley he never left his church. Luther left the Catholic Church under the death threat of the high authority in Rome. Had it not been for the favor of those who ruled in Saxony, Luthers death would have happened then.

It was the Catholic Church that would open the door, for money had been used against the poor for the manipulation of religion. Indulgences were listed as time off from purgatory. Luther believed that purgatory was not an actual fact but a place created by the Catholic Church for the gain of money. Catholics believe that Purgatory is a place that a believer goes so he can be purified to enter heaven. Indulgences were sold in the 16th Century of the church to help build St. Peter Basilica in Rome.

The original Bible of the Catholic church was set at 66 books, but Pope Leo added seven additional books. Two of the books that were added were the Book of the Macabees. In the book of the Macabees, Jewish soldiers go into battle with a idol inside their vest and when they came home from the battle they were asked to purify themselves before they reentered Jewish worship because they were defiled by the idol. Thus the Catholic Church established their doctrine of Purgatory on the fact that the sins of believers had to be purified before they could enter the Kingdom of God. It was the selling of religion to build St. Peters Basilica in Rome that cleaned the pockets of the poor and defeated the idea of faith.

Martin LutherLuther said, "Man is justified by faith only and not by the man made works of man." Luther felt that Scripture had been perverted in what he saw in Rome. The selling of a Bishops position for power was also in practice.

It would not be until 1648 that the Bible would once again go back to being 66 books. King James of England established a study by the great minds of England to re-edit the Bible to reflect only upon the salvation of Jesus Christ. The Book of Seract, two books of the Macbees, The Book of Truth were all removed. The final edition of the King James Bible was finished in 1648.

At the same time the new world was building a city in North America called Hampton in Virginia, and the first settlement in the English part of the United States would be called Jamestown. These were stirring times as faith sought a place of relief from the politics and the money of religion.

Saxony would produce another whos name would not be recognized, but would be as powerful as Luther was. In Jim Golls book, The Lost Art of Intercession he speaks of a man that launched a thousand ships but never left the land where he lived.

The Moravian Community of Herrnhut in Saxony, in 1727, began a vigil of around the clock prayer watch that continued non-stop for one hundred and ten years. The watch was begun with 24 men and 24 women under the guidance of a 27 year old leader named Nicholas Ludwig, Count of Zinzendorf.

In 1722, Zinzendorf was approached by a group of Moravians to request permission to live on his lands. He granted their request, and a small band crossed the border from Moravia to settle in a town they called Herrnhut, or "the Lords Watch." Zinzendorf was intrigued by the story of the Moravians, and began to read about the early Unity at the library in Dresden. His tenants went through a period of serious division, and it was then in 1727 that Zinzendorf left public life to spend all his time at his Berthelsdorf estate working with the troubled Moravians. Largely due to his leadership in daily Bible studies, the group came to formulate a unique document, known as the "Brotherly Agreement," which set forth basic tenets of Christian behavior. Residents of Herrnhut were required to sign a pledge to abide by these Biblical principals. There followed an intense and powerful experience of renewal, often described as the "Moravian Pentecost." During a communion service at Berthelsdorf, the entire congregation felt a powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, and felt their previous differences swept away. This experience began the Moravian renewal, and led to the beginning of the Protestant World Mission movement.

This Moravian community only contained 300 people, but in their effort of intercessory prayer they knew the secret to Gods heart, and it was revealed to their leader in the Book of Leviticus 6:3, "Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out." The Moravians believed that the new fire on the altar was prayer, and they acted on Gods challenge. This would be the whole key to revival as they understood it. They would, by 1762, send out more than 300 missionaries.

It was believed that this leader was responsible for revival as we know it in its modern fashion. It was John Wesley, on his way home from America, that encountered these Moravian Missionaries on the ship bound for England. He marveled at how they were calm during the great storm they had endured on the Atlantic. It was this witness of peace that caught Wesleys attention. After speaking with them he found his faith to be lacking. It was the witness of this godly peace that would turn out to be the spark that would ignite the great revival in England.

Saxony would play a major role in the conversion of John Wesley as his study on Luthers papers on faith led to a great conversion process. Wesley said that he felt a strange warm feeling in his heart. From that day on he was compelled to share this experience. Wesley even traveled to Herhutt to see the place of his new found experience. As he returned to England he began to formulate his future as an evangelist. It was George Whitefield that confronted John Wesley about his preaching. Wesley was being locked out of the Anglican Churches and was unable to gain the freedom that he needed to share his great faith. It was Whitefield that convinced him that he needed to take his witness to the street of England to gain the attention of the people for their salvation.

In Bristol, England, John Wesley surrendered his will to God to take the Gospel to the out doors. It in Bristol, England, on April 2, 1739 that Wesley felt the Spirit of the Lord fall on him to preach to a group of coal miners. In front of 3,000 miners Wesley, under a heavy anointing preached, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor..."

More Church History

More from Spiritual Life

Copyright © The Remnant Newspaper. Used by permission. For ministry news, features, and inspirational stories from a Christian perspecitve, log on to The Remnant.

  • Translate
  • Print Page

Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?

A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.

Do You Know Jesus
Grow In Your Faith

Need Prayer?

Call 1-800-700-7000
Email your prayer request

Email iconSign up for E-mail Updates Full List