Martin Luther did not set out to organize a church under his name.
He was born in Eisleben, Germany on November 10, 1483, 9 years before Columbus sailed to the New World. He studied law at age 21, became a priest and Doctor of Theology at age 28, took a stand on reform at age 33 as a Roman Catholic monk, was excommunicated and became a fugitive at age 38, translated the Bible to German at 40, and died in Eisleben at age 63 on February 18, 1546. He stressed the teachings of justification by faith, priesthood of all believers, and the supremacy of God’s Word. Luther loved music, making it an integral part of the worship service. Of the many hymns he composed the most famous is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”.
October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed a critique of the sale of indulgences by the church on the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. The experience with the challenge to the church began the Protestant Reformation and changed the way that the Scripture was viewed…the proclamation of God’s mercy. The Lutheran Church was born in the fire of the Bible. The basic belief is that a person is saved only by the grace of God through faith in Christ.
A cross on a heart, resting on the center of the Messianic Rose and surrounded by a circle to symbolize eternity, was adopted by Luther as his own coat of arms and as an expression of trust in God.
The Luther Rose, also known as the Luther Seal, is easily the most recognized symbol for Lutheranism, and for good reason. Martin Luther personally oversaw the creation of this coat of arms in the year 1519. It provides a beautiful summary of his faith, a faith that is common to all Christians, of every place and every time. Here is how Luther explained the meaning of his seal:
“Grace and peace from the Lord. As you desire to know whether my painted seal, which you sent to me, has hit the mark, I shall answer most amiably and tell you my original thoughts and reason about why my seal is a symbol of my theology. The first should be a black cross in a heart, which retains its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. ‘For one who believes from the heart will be justified’ (Romans 10:10). Although it is indeed a black cross, which mortifies and which should also cause pain, it leaves the heart in its natural color. It does not corrupt nature, that is, it does not kill but keeps alive. ‘The just shall live by faith’ (Romans 1:17) but by faith in the Crucified. Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). That is why the rose should be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and the angels (cf. Matthew 28:3; John 20:12). Such a rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy, which begins already, but is grasped in hope, not yet revealed. And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in Heaven lasts forever and has no end. Such blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable, most precious and best metal. This is my compendium theoligae [summary of theology]. I have wanted to show it to you in good friendship, hoping for your appreciation. May Christ, our beloved Lord, be with your spirit until the life hereafter. Amen.”