500 YEARS: One verse of Scripture

by Randy L. Bennett, posted Monday, October 30, 2017 (7 months ago)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (BP) -- A neurotic and fearful young German man felt a call to the priesthood, long before knowing Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. As an Augustinian monk, he spent many years intensely seeking peace for the demons in his soul and peace to still his fears of hell and judgment.

Two critical events took place in his life which would lead to an incredible discovery.

1. The young Augustinian monk was sent to the Vatican to deliver some legal papers. While there he saw levels of corruption beyond his imagination. He saw open prostitution, including brothels for the clergy. He joined other desperate souls seeking peace only to be offered indulgences that he could buy to reduce his time in purgatory. There was no message of peace with God.

2. After returning from the Vatican the Augustinian monk was assigned the task of teaching the Bible at the Wittenberg University. Teaching God's Word slowly began to change the young man. He was a brilliant lecturer and gained popularity both as a monk and as a professor. At some point he began to study and teach through the book of Romans. He didn't know it but his life was about to change -- a change that also would affect the entire world.

He discovered an amazing passage: Romans 1:16-17 -- "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'"

The apostle Paul's citation of that simple verse -- "the just shall live by faith" -- from Habakkuk 2:4 changed Martin Luther's life. He came to understand that salvation and the peace he sought were found by faith, not by works. Neither kissing the steps of the Vatican nor purchasing indulgences gave any hope of peace. Only faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross could bring peace to a person.

Can one verse of Scripture change a person, a nation and a world? Yes, it can. That simple verse led to the Protestant Reformation. Whispers of hope and freedom came from Luther's discovery of justification by faith. Peace could be achieved in this life by placing one's faith in Jesus Christ.

What verse changed your life forever?

Randy L. Bennett is director of missions for the Kern County Southern Baptist Association in Bakersfield, Calif., and immediate past president of the California Southern Baptist Convention.
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