中世纪的罗马天主教，已经腐化到骨子里，成了滋生异端邪说和属灵诈骗的温床。然而，就算在那普遍败坏的大氛围中，主仍在救赎自己的百姓，并建立他真正的教会。在罗马的势力范围之外，仍有一些教会继续地存在，甚至蓬勃地发展。主更使用他忠勇的仆人，如：威克里夫（John Wycliffe）胡斯（John Hus），来拒绝并抵制违背圣经的天主教传统，剥下其假善的面具，暴露其内在的腐朽。正如几个世纪后，在英国的清教徒一样，这些人起初并没有企图推翻教廷，只巴望能呼吁它悔改，并帮它恢复到圣经的正统，但这两个人却因着他们奋勇传道，都被逐出教会，定为异端，处以火刑。胡斯（Hus）当场死于非命，威克里夫（Wycliffe）则秋后算账。他是尸骨在几十年后，竟从坟墓中被掘出、焚烧，他骨头被碾碎，骨灰撒在河里（River Swift）。
在教皇利奥十世（Pope Leo X）统治下，中世纪的天主教利用出售赎罪卷，承担了建造豪华建筑的经费，包括罗马的圣彼得大教堂（St.Peter’s Basilica）在内。 一位精明的修道士泰泽尔（Johann Tetzel）就是他们最成功的销售员之一。
这“信徒唯有因信称义”的真理，成了整个“改教运动”（Reformation）争议的焦点。因此，“唯独信心”（Sola Fide）成了“改教运动”实质的原则。然而，那真正促使路德写下并发表那95条论纲的，却是“唯独圣经”（Sola Scriptura）即圣经的权威性与全备性的原则，才是“宗教改革”正规的基本原则。即便在他归信主之前，在他早期的著作中，路德对圣经的委身就已经很明显了。
其他改教家们，如加尔文（John Calvin），慈运理（Ulrich Zwingli），梅兰奇通（Philip Melanchthon），比萨（Theodore Beza），诺克斯（John Knox）等等，都有这同一信念：他们同信这一本圣经，虽在不同的战场上，但都在打同一场仗，就是维护并持守神的道在他教会中的权威性，来对抗教皇的专权，以及天主教的异端。《圣经》至高的权威是“宗教改革”的核心，“改教运动”其他的重要的教条和教义，都来自于这一个源头。
沃姆会议上（Diet of Worms），路德捍卫他的著作时，他说出那段永垂千古的话，宣告了他对圣经单纯的顺从。
The Legacy of the Reformation
by John MacArthur
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
In medieval Europe, the Roman Catholic Church had a stranglehold on all matters pertaining to spiritual life. In an era when Bibleswere rare and inaccessible to all but the clergy, the hierarchy of Romeestablished itself as the gatekeeper controlling access to Scripture, and thusto God. The priests granted forgiveness, bestowed blessing, and served as thearbiters of eternal reward.
By the 1400s, the church was overrun with layers ofinstitutional corruption. Behind a transparent veil of piety, immorality andwickedness permeated the church. Throughout Christendom, church parishionersstruggled to survive and eke out a humble existence, while the religious rulingclass preyed on the people’s ignorance to line their pockets and expand theirauthority. Popes and archbishops lived reprobate lives of lavish excess andwanton lasciviousness. The church ruled with an iron fist, overseeing evengovernments and influencing all aspects of medieval life.
To its core, the medieval Roman Catholic Church was abreeding ground for heresy and spiritual deception. But even in the midst ofits dominating corruption, the Lord was still redeeming His own and buildingHis true church. Some churches existed and even thrived outside of Rome’sauthority. The Lord also used bold and faithful men like John Wycliffe and JohnHuss to reject and repudiate extrabiblical Catholic dogma, to peel back itspious mask and expose the corruption within. Like the Puritans centuries laterin England, these men did not seek to overthrow the church, but hoped to callit to repentance and help restore it to biblical orthodoxy. And for theirefforts, both men were excommunicated and burned as heretics. (Wycliffe was retroactivelyexcommunicated decades after his death. His body was actually exhumed andincinerated, his bones crushed, and the bones and ashes scattered in the RiverSwift.)
Although the Catholic Church went to extreme measures tosilence Wycliffe, Huss, and others like them, the truth they preached survivedand paved the way for an earnest German monk to carry on their legacy andstrike a decisive blow against the papal fortress. Like those before him,Martin Luther did not set out on an overtly rebellious course to overthrow orupend the Church. But out of his fervent study of Scripture and through theillumination of the Holy Spirit, Luther came to a saving knowledge of the LordJesus Christ and to a clear understanding of Rome’s deviation from the truth ofthe gospel.
Historians identify the flashpoint of the Reformation asOctober 31, 1517, the day Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door ofthe Castle Church in Wittenberg. In that pivotal treatise, Luther, not yetconverted, argued against the abusive traditions of the CatholicChurch—particularly the sale of indulgences.
Indulgences were a means for Catholics to buy their wayout of penance and purgatory. They could also be purchased on behalf ofdeceased loved ones. With an extremely high mortality rate and an equally shortlife expectancy—and with the church’s threat of eons in purgatory constantlyhanging overhead—most people would leap at any hope to avoid languishing in theafterlife, in some holding place short of heaven.
Under Pope Leo X, the medieval church used the sale ofindulgences to support the construction of elaborate structures like St.Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  A savvy monknamed Johann Tetzel was one of their most successful salesmen.
Tetzel was ingenious in his mischief, perfecting amasterful sales pitch to prey on the credulous simplicity of Catholicparishioners. He would famously exhort the crowds with the promise, “As soon asthe coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” To a customerbase of illiterate, superstitious peasants, what greater hope could there be?
Luther was furious over Tetzel’s church-sponsoredextortion. His Ninety-Five Theses constituted a public repudiation of thepractice and a direct assault on the greed of the Church. Thesis eighty-six putthe blame squarely on Pope Leo himself: “Why does not the pope, whose wealth istoday greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilicaof St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”
Those Ninety-Five Theses ignited the Reformation, butthey did not constitute its primary battleground. In fact, Luther had not yetcome to true faith and repentance at the time of their writing—he was savedshortly thereafter. The doctrine of justification by faith is of course aninsurmountable argument against the sale of indulgences, so it is significantthat the Ninety-Five Theses omit any mention of that doctrine. It indicatesthat Luther’s “Tower Experience,” when he finally understood what it means to bejustified by faith alone, occurred sometime after the posting of the theses.Scholars and historians cannot determine the precise year when Luther first hadhis awakening, but Luther spoke of it often, and he seemed to view it as themoment of his true conversion. Here’s how he described what happened:
The words “righteous” and “righteousness of God” struckmy conscience like lightning. When I heard them I was exceedingly terrified. Ithought if God is righteous, he must punish. But when by God’s grace Ipondered, in the tower and heated room of this building, over the words, “Hewho through faith is righteous shall live” [Romans 1:17]and “the righteousness of God” [Romans 3:21],I soon came to the conclusion that if we, as righteous men, ought to live fromfaith and if the righteousness of God should contribute to the salvation of allwho believe, then salvation won’t be our merit but God’s mercy. My spirit wasthereby cheered. For it’s by the righteousness of God that we’re justified andsaved through Christ. These words [which had before terrified me] now becamemore pleasing to me. The Holy Spirit unveiled the Scriptures for me in thistower. 
The truth that believers are justified by faith alonebecame the focus of the entire reformation debate. That principle (sola fide)is therefore known as the material principle of the Reformation. But it was theformal principle of the Reformation, sola scriptura—the authority andsufficiency of Scripture—that motivated Luther to write and post theNinety-Five Theses. His commitment to that principle was evident even in hisearliest writings before his conversion.
John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Philip Melanchthon, TheodoreBeza, John Knox, and many more shared that same conviction and fought the samefight on different fronts to rescue and preserve the authority of God’s Word inHis church against the tyranny of the pope and the heresies of the CatholicChurch. The supremacy and authority of Scripture was the beating heart of theReformation from which all its other core tenets flowed.
In defense of his work at the Diet of Worms, Lutherfamously proclaimed his submission to Scripture alone:
Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scripturesor by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone,since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves),I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to theWord of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safenor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen. 
Five hundred years later, faithful men serve in the shadowof these great warriors of God and work to carry on their legacy of biblicalfidelity and gospel truth. Moreover, we carry on their protest, not merelyagainst Rome, but against any system, church, or self-styled shepherd whodeviates from the Word of God in the life of the church. And tragically, thetwenty-first century church may be facing greater threats than it ever enduredunder Rome.
(Adapted from Christ’s Call to Reform the Church)