The Reformers of the sixteenth century were a galaxy of brilliant men of high learning and deep spiritual conviction who flooded the desen wastes of the church with the precious life-giving water of the rivers of God. The greatest of them ail-probably the greatest life-bringer to (he church since the time of the apostles - was Manin Lulher (1483-1546).

Never was there a lime when the church needed a Martin Luther as it did then. Never, in all its long history, had the church sunk 10 such depths of moral obloquy and ( corruption, or worldliness and unbelief, as il had when Lulher was born. To read the diaries kepi by the secretary of the Borgia pope, Alexander VI (1493-1503), is to be introduced to a Vatican which was then a world of incest, adultery, prostitution and i drunkenness, of gambling and vice, of / cynicism and scheming, where bishoprics and cardinalships were sold to the highest bidder, even to boys of eight years old. It was a world as vulgar and vile as the basest of thieves' kitchens, alien to any kind of spirituality, to any kind of theology.

It was Lulher who, by preaching and teaching faith based on the Bible and (he gospel, gave people a vision of what the Founder Jesus Christ had intended for his : church. This clear vision captured the minds of European men and women; it awoke their consciences to how wrong filings were. Luther gave people a taste of ilieold wine of the New Testament, and none who had tasted il ever returned to the new wine of late medieval Catholicism.

History books make a great deal of his work in clearing out wickedness and corruption, yet Luther's concern was not with scandals, but with God. He gave himself to telling a lost world and a straying church what God had done for us in Jesus ...

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