When encountering a violent thunderstorm in July 1505 as he was traveling, young Martin Luther was knocked to the ground by a nearby strike of a lightning bolt. Fearing for his soul and believing that this was a sign from God, he cried out, “Help me, St. Anne, I will become a monk.”
Luther moved into the Augustinian Monastery in Erfurt. It was known as the most rigorous of the Augustinian monasteries. When entering the monastery, the monks asked Luther what he wanted. He said, “I seek God’s grace and your mercy.”
Luther’s father, Hans, was furious at his son for going into the monastery. He was disappointed that Martin would not become a lawyer thereby enjoying a salary which would help the family financially. However, for Martin the making of money was not nearly as important as was the salvation of his soul.
You must understand that then, and now, salvation according to the Catholic Church is not a declaration by God and appropriated by God-given faith in the person and completed work of Christ. Rather, salvation is a rigorous process of one’s own righteous works in which you can never be certain you have done enough to avert hell, avoid purgatory and enter heaven.
Still there was hope that while salvation was difficult, it was not impossible. The rigors of monastic life included renouncing self-will, living on a meager diet, rough clothing, vigils day and night, working during the day, and the mortification of the flesh, the reproach of poverty, the shame of begging and the distastefulness of a secluded existence.
Luther renounced his past, and entered into the monastic life. He was given a cell. He then began to pursue his peace with God.
We often hear the expression that a person, who has recently died, has made their peace with God. However, the Bible says that we do not make our peace with God, but rather God makes His peace with us, through the substitutionary atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-5).
In who or what are you trusting in for the salvation of your immortal soul? The only hope is Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins right now and trust Jesus to be your Lord and Savior (John 1:12-13).
Soli deo Gloria!