Category Archives: Luther

Boasting in Another

(h.t.-Tullian Tchividjian blog at The Gospel Coalition)

It is amazing that we are so given to pride, to boasting and bragging, and that we glory in such things as our beauty, riches, noble birth, power, skill, wisdom, honorable life, good works. . . .

If we want to boast, then let us boast that we receive from the fullness of Christ. . . . Whoever wishes to be safeguarded from the devil’s might and to escape sin and death must draw from this well, Christ; from Him flows all salvation and eternal bliss. This fountain is inexhaustible; it is full of grace and truth before God; it never fails no matter how much we draw from it. Even if we all dip from it without stopping, it cannot be emptied, but it remains a perennial fount of grace and truth, an unfathomable well, an eternal fountain. The more we draw from it, the more it gives. . . .

This fountain constantly overflows with sheer grace. Whoever wishes to enjoy Christ’s grace – and no one is excluded – let him come and receive it from Him. You will never drain this fountain of living water; it will never run dry. You will all draw from it much more than enough, and yet it will remain a perennial well. (Martin Luther,Luther’s Works, 22:133–34)

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Apprising Ministries-Rick Warren Corrects Martin Luther

Apprising.org-First we hear from Martin Luther, who’s widely acknowledged as the father of the Protestant Reformation:

The negotiation about doctrinal agreement displeases me altogether, for this is utterly impossible unless the pope has his papacy abolished. Therefore avoid and flee those who seek the middle of the road. Think of me after I am dead and such middle-of-the-road men arise, for nothing good will come of it. There can be no compromise.

My dear pope, I will kiss your feet and acknowledge you as supreme bishop if you will worship my Christ and grant that through His death and resurrection, not through keeping your traditions, we have forgiveness of sins and life eternal.

If you will yield on this point, I shall not take away your crown and power; if not, I shall constantly cry out that you are the Antichrist, and I shall testify that your whole cult and religion are only a denial of God, but also the height of blasphemy against God and idolatry. (What Luther Says, II: 1019, as cited at Online source)

And now Southern Baptist pastor Rick Warren, working for a second reformation of “deeds not creeds,” sets Luther straight:

“I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody.” (Online source)

“Now I don’t agree with everything in everybody’s denomination, including my own. I don’t agree with everything that Catholics do or Pentecostals do, but what binds us together is so much stronger than what divides us,” he said.

“I really do feel that these people are brothers and sisters in God’s family. I am looking to build bridges with the Orthodox Church, looking to build bridges with the Catholic Church,….” (Online source, emphasis mine)

“The Church, in all its expressions—Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Protestant and many others—has 2.3 billion followers.” (Online source, emphasis mine)

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What Is Reformation Day All About?

Reformation Day is October 31 each year. I was away on personal time and did not post this as I wanted, so I am sharing it now. It comes from Ligionier Ministries blog and is written by Robert Rothwell.

At the time, few would have suspected that the sound of a hammer striking the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, would soon be heard around the world and lead ultimately to the greatest transformation of Western society since the apostles first preached the Gospel throughout the Roman empire. Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to the church door on October 31, 1517, provoked a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.

An heir of Bishop Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther is one of the most significant figures God has raised up since that time. This law student turned Augustinian monk became the center of a great controversy after his theses were copied and distributed throughout Europe. Initially protesting the pope’s attempt to sell salvation, Luther’s study of Scripture soon led him to oppose the church of Rome on issues including the primacy of the Bible over church tradition and the means by which we are found righteous in the sight of God.

This last issue is probably Luther’s most significant contribution to Christian theology. Though preached clearly in the New Testament and found in the writings of many of the church fathers, the medieval bishops and priests had largely forgotten the truth that our own good works can by no means merit God’s favor. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, and good works result from our faith, they are not added to it as the grounds for our right standing in the Lord’s eyes (Eph. 2:8–10). Justification, God’s declaration that we are not guilty, forgiven of sin, and righteous in His sight comes because through our faith alone the Father imputes, or reckons to our account, the perfect righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

Martin Luther’s rediscovery of this truth led to a whole host of other church and societal reforms and much of what we take for granted in the West would have likely been impossible had he never graced the scene. Luther’s translation of the Bible into German put the Word of God in the hands of the people, and today Scripture is available in the vernacular language of many countries, enabling lay people to study it with profit. He reformed the Latin mass by putting the liturgy in the common tongue so that non-scholars could hear and understand the preached word of God and worship the Lord with clarity. Luther lifted the unbiblical ban on marriage for the clergy and by his own teaching and example radically transformed the institution itself. He recaptured the biblical view of the priesthood of all believers, showing all people that their work had purpose and dignity because in it they can serve their Creator.

Today, Luther’s legacy lives on in the creeds and confessions of Protestant bodies worldwide. As we consider his importance this Reformation Day, let us equip ourselves to be knowledgeable proclaimers and defenders of biblical truth. May we be eager to preach the Gospel of God to the world and thereby spark a new reformation of church and culture.


Free MP3 Downloads by R.C. Sproul (Right click on the links to save to your computer.):

The Making of the Protestant Reformation (Part 1) 
The Making of the Protestant Reformation (Part 2)

Martin Luther (Part 1) (From the series Heroes of the Christian Faith)
Martin Luther (Part 2)

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A Mighty Fortress is our God

The Center for Church Music-The one hymn that most symbolizes the Protestant Reformation is "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." In it, Martin Luther proclaims his confidence in God and rallies all Christians to war against evil. Basing his words on Psalm 46, he victoriously states "We will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us." Those persecuted and martyred for their convictions during the Reformation sang these words.

Luther understood the power of evil: After he posted his ninety-five theses on the door of Wittenberg’s Castle in 1517, he faced years of trials and persecution, he was excommunicated from the Roman church, and he continually faced threats against his life and his freedom. Other reformers had been persecuted and burned at the stake.

But he also knew "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in danger" (Psalm 46:1) and so he wrote "A Mighty Fortress is our God," proclaiming boldly that "the prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him . . . one little word shall fell him."

Since he wrote it in 1529, Luther’s hymn has been translated into nearly every language. There are said to be over eighty English translations alone to this hymn, but the version most used in the United States is the translation by Frederic Henry Hedge in 1852.

The first line of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" is inscribed on the tomb of Martin Luther at Wittenberg. And its powerful words and tune continue to live. The hymn was sung at the funeral of President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, March 1969. And it was also included in the National Service of Prayer and Remembrance, held shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks against America.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That Word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

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No sanctification….no justification

“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.”

R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Chapter 8

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Understanding Free Will

by R.C. Sproul, Ligonier Blog

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.”

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Luther’s 95 Theses

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. Continue reading

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