Soli Deo Gloria: For the glory of God alone “There’s a wild boar loose in the vineyard!”
Posted: Friday, September 4, 2009 11:29 am
The Messenger, September 3, 2009
By REV. BILLY MCGARITY
Special to The Messenger
“There’s a wild boar loose in the vineyard!”
This may sound like something shouted from the front porch by an angry farmer after one of the prize hogs has tunneled under the garden fence. However, this was actually the excited and aggravated statement from the organized Church of Rome in June of 1520, concerning a young theological professor-turned-reformer named Martin Luther.
The work of the Reformer now under consideration, Martin Luther, preceded that of John Calvin in order of chronology. Calvin, known by his contemporaries as “The Theologian,” built upon the reforms that had begun with Martin Luther. Calvin was the great systematizer of the Reformation, but Luther was the flaming spark that served to ignite the movement known as Protestantism.
Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany, Nov. 10, 1483. His father was determined that young Martin would study and work in the field of law. But, according to R.H. Bainton, on a sultry evening in 1505 a providential thunderbolt struck the young man. In anguish, he made a vow to become a monk upon the condition of his salvation from his horrid predicament. Against his father’s wishes, Luther followed through with this vow and entered into a cloistered life within a strict Augustinian order.
The young monk struggled to find some assurance of his salvation within the system created by Rome. He felt as though he could neither confess enough nor accomplish the good works needed to secure the righteousness required for justification. Then, as miraculously as the thunderbolt strike, Luther encountered these words from Paul while reading the opening chapter of the book of Romans: “The just shall live by faith.”
His understanding of these words would alter the course of history from that moment forward. The great doctrine of justification by faith alone, produced by grace alone, was rediscovered by Luther and became the “hinge on which all else would turn.”
Luther now possessed the Biblical understanding of salvation: The only way a person can possibly stand just before a holy God is through faith in Christ, Himself the condemned sinner’s righteousness. Luther would have probably remained quietly teaching this great truth of the gospel to his students if it had not been for Rome’s militant efforts to gain financing for building projects through the sale of indulgences.
Luther’s contribution to western culture has been enormous. Just think what the United States would be like without the various evangelical denominations dotting the American landscape. The Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches of our ancestors, not to mention scores of others, would not be here if it were not for Luther, the “wild boar” that got loose in the vineyard.
The church today is in great need of more people like Luther, “wild boars” that are willing to stand for the truths of Scripture in the midst of an Evangelical church that seems to be more concerned with building projects and providing entertainment than with the gospel as found in the pages of Holy Scripture.
Editor’s note: McGarity is pastor of Grace Community Church (PCA) in Union City and provides pulpit supply for Antioch Union Church in the Crystal community.