“When Luther declared the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, he said, “Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” James had said it earlier in a different way. He said that “faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26). True faith, or saving faith, is what Luther called a fides viva, “a living faith”. It is a faith that immediately brings forth the fruits of repentance and righteousness. If we say we have faith, but no works follow, that is clear evidence that our faith is not genuine. True faith always produces real conformity to Christ. If justification happens to us, then sanctification will surely follow. If there is no sanctification, it means that there never was any justification.”
Martin Luther struggled greatly with the relationship of God’s sovereignty to human free will and sin. In fact, one of the greatest books ever written on the subject, The Bondage of the Will, is from Luther’s pen. When Luther grappled with this issue, he especially struggled with the Old Testament passages where we read that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 4:21; 7:3–4, 13–14, 22–23; 8:15, 19, 30–32; 9:27–10:2; 10:16–20, 24–28).
When we read these passages, we tend to think, “Doesn’t this suggest that God not only works through the desires and actions of humans, but that He actually forces evil upon people?” After all, the Bible does say that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
When Luther discussed this, he observed that when the Bible says that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, God did not create fresh evil in the heart of an innocent man. Luther said that God didn’t harden people by putting evil in their hearts. All that God must do to harden anyone’s heart is to withhold His own grace; that is, He gives a person over to himself.
Coram Deo: Is your heart open to the needs of others? Is it responsive to spiritual things? Ask God to keep your heart soft and pliable to His divine will and purposes.
Exodus 4:21: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.’”
Psalm 95:8: “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness.”
Deuteronomy 15:7: “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother.”
Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther
on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences
by Dr. Martin Luther (1517)
Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.
In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.
6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven. [Read more...]
“What would Luther do? Asking this kind of question invites trouble. The question might be a fun exercise for a graduate seminar, but it cannot be answered in any helpful way, other than to go back to what Luther did.
Luther stood upon the authority of every single word of the Bible. As he repeatedly made clear, no word of the Bible could be dismissed — every word carries the full authority of God Himself. Luther put his life on the line for the sole authority of the Bible and this became the formal principle of the Reformation itself — sola Scriptura.
Luther specifically affirmed the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality and he never rejected or denied the full authority of any text of Scripture. It is intellectual dishonesty of the highest degree to suggest that Luther would change his position on homosexuality if only he could be instructed about the modern concepts of sexual orientation and sexual lifestyles.
This is the real Luther:
“Is it not certain that he who does not or will not believe one article correctly (after he has been taught and admonished) does not believe any sincerely and with the right faith? And whoever is so bold that he ventures to accuse God of fraud and deception in a single word and does so willfully again and again after he has been warned and instructed once or twice will likewise certainly venture to accuse God of fraud and deception in all of His words. Therefore it is true, absolutely and without exception, that everything is believed or nothing is believed. The Holy Spirit does not suffer Himself to be separated and divided so that He should teach and cause to be believed one doctrine rightly and another falsely.”
I have read this piece in several sites, but is great! Enjoy and be blessed.
I regularly get e-mail from people I don’t know asking questions about Martin Luther. I’ve even had people contact me in the hopes I will help write their research papers for school (I will not!). Recently, I was sent a few Luther questions, and I was amazed certain myths still circulate. Despite the explosion of cyber-information, here are ten that somehow still survive. [Read more...]