He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to
his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Martin Luther and the Reformation
The Reformation began in 1517 when Martin Luther, a German monk and university professor, posted ninety-five theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. Luther argued that the Catholic church had to be reformed, disagreeing with many of the church’s practices, such as the purchase of indulgences to obtain forgiveness and prayers being addressed to saints instead of God. He advocated printing the Bible in German instead of Latin so all could read it, not just the clergy and priests. He believed that we could be saved only by our faith in Jesus Christ, following the Scriptures and the grace of God.
Luther’s Rose and the Solas
Luther’s explanation of the rose:
“First, there is a black cross in a heart that remains its natural color. This is to remind me that it is faith in the Crucified One that saves us. Anyone who believes from the heart will be justified (Romans 10:10). It is a black cross, which mortifies and causes pain, but it leaves the heart its natural color. It doesn’t destroy nature, that is to say, it does not kill us but keeps us alive, for the just shall live by faith in the Crucified One (Romans 1:17). The heart should stand in the middle of a white rose. This is to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace—it puts the believer into a white, joyous rose. Faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). This is why the rose must be white, not red. White is the color of the spirits and angels (cf. Matthew 28:3; John 20:12). This rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that a joyful spirit and faith is a beginning of heavenly, future joy, which begins now, but is grasped in hope, not yet fully revealed. Around the field of blue is a golden ring to symbolize that blessedness in heaven lasts forever and has no end. Heavenly blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and better than any possessions, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.”
The Solas of Luther’s Rose:
Sola Fide – by faith alone
“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:17)
Sola Gratia – by grace alone
“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from ourselves; it is God’s gift…” (Ephesians 2:8)
Sola Scriptura – by scripture alone
“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)