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March 18, 2021 12:01 am
At the Diet of Worms, Martin Luther was faced with a decision: stand alone for the Word of God or bend the knee to the teachings of the church. As we continue our highlights of R.C. Sproul's teaching through the years, today he describes a foundational moment for the Protestant Reformation.
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500 years ago next month. Martin Luther faced powerful and angry or choosers by whose authority Luther, do you dare to teach this and Luther said the authority of the Scripture. Yes, I may be in disagreement with the Pope or with the church council but show me that I'm disobeying the Scripture and I'll change in a heartbeat. With the threat of excommunication, exile, and even death hanging over.
Luther had to make a decision came to extraordinary pressure or stand firm to his conscience bound by Scripture.
Welcome to Renewing Your Mind and we will, and today Dr. RC Sproul shows his Luther's courage and conviction in a message titled here I stand. When we think of the Protestant Reformation and the role that was played by Martin Luther.
Most of us are at least aware of the historic significance of the so-called 95 theses that Luther nailed to the church door at Wittenberg.
Luther by tacking up the 95 theses had no intention whatsoever to create some kind of national and international controversy.
He was not acting as a protest store or as a Protestant. In this particular endeavor.
In fact, he was careful in his draft of the 95 theses to write them in Latin, which was the language of the academic world and he was really inviting the faculty there to discuss some of the issues that were related to a controversy that was brewing there in Saxony and that controversy had to do with the sale of indulgences. Now, at this time in the 16th century. The church was engaged in a massive building program. The building of St. Peter's Basilica and in order to build St. Peter's an enormous amount of capital was needed in the church simply had to raise money. One of the ideas that came out of Rome for increasing the revenue of the church was a special papal indulgence that would be made available for people who make contributions to this building program and so the Pope authorized the sale of papal indulgences for this particular purpose, but not let's be very careful at this point to understand that let's not think of it in terms of crass moneymaking scheme like one might associate with modern televangelists or something. But the Roman Catholic Church had for centuries been deeply involved in their sacramental system, among which sacraments included the sacrament of penance. When a person committed sin and went to the confessional, and so on. When he went through all of those steps that were involved in the sacrament. The final step was to perform certain works of penance, which included not just saying.
So many fathers are so many Hail Marys are making pilgrimages, but one of the things that Pennington could do in order to be restored to grace was to give all in the whole idea of almsgiving had a long history in the Christian community. Going back to the first century as a great Christian virtue to give alms to the poor, or to charity or to the church or whatever unselfishly but the church made it very clear that the only alms giving that was any value to the soul of the person giving the alms was the almsgiving that was motivated by a truly contrite and humble heart. And when the Pope authorized the sale of indulgences for St. Peter. He made that abundantly clear that this was not an endorsement of a crass sale of indulgences but rather it was giving people who were generally repenting of their sins an opportunity to fulfill the terms of penance by giving alms and on this occasion, there would be a special benefit that would be derived from the giving of alms for the billing of St. Peter, namely a papal indulgence will what was a papal indulgence. The Roman Catholic Church believes that in the New Testament Christ gave what's called the power of the keys you've heard the phrase the keys of the kingdom, the power of the keys refers to Jesus statement to his disciples whatsoever. Sins you remit on earth shall be remitted in heaven and whatsoever things you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and Romans understood that in the way that Christ has delegated authority for the forgiveness of sins, at least with respect to temporal guilt to the church and was given primarily took Peter, whom Ron believes was the first pope and was the rock upon which Christ would build his church and so sometimes this is called the keys of St. Peter because the Pope follows as Peter's successor from the original position of the apostles and so the giving of indulgences as understood by Rome was the manifestation of the power of the keys.
The power of the church to bind and loose to forgive sins to grant an indulgence. Okay so what happened was that throughout the whole empire. Delegates were commissioned by the church to represent Rome in proclaiming and announcing this new special papal dispensation. This new indulgence site. What happened in Germany was a particular representative of the church who was unscrupulous gathered all kinds of attention because what he did in kind of a slick Madison Avenue Way was that he was running around of the peasants convincing them that if they would give liberally and generously to this building program that they could automatically free their relatives from purgatory.
In this man's name was William Texel and Texel did not give the standard caveat since I know you have to really be sincere and you have to really be Pennington HS was a huckster who was peddling the church's forgiveness and really an outrageous way. The phrase that he used for his marketing slogan in German. If we translated it into English would go something like this every time a coin in the coffer in the cattle rings a soul from purgatory springs. That was that was the sales pitch that pencil was using now fascinating to me is that in the early stages of this indulgence thing Luther himself was very excited about the prospect of this new release of papal indulgences and at one point he commented that he was disappointed in a certain sense that his mother and father whom he dearly loved were still alive but that he wanted in the tie but he was sad that they were alive at this moment in history because had they been dead.
He could've secured their salvation for them by getting indulgences to get them out of purgatory and heaven to Luther himself went and gave alms and purchase these indulgences in behalf of his grandparents. The strange quirk of history there. But as he did this more and more reports were coming back of the unscrupulous tactics of William Texel and so Luther wrote the 95 theses not to attack indulgences not to attack the penitential system not to attack the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification, but to attack what he believed were gross and scandalous abuses.
He at this point was still a loyal son of the church and he was trying to stop this Texel fellow from casting a blemish on the church itself. However, in the midst of his study and treatment in preparation for this correction of abuse. Luther began to reevaluate the entire system of indulgences and was wondering how he could square. This concept of merit with the doctrine of justification by faith. He read in the New Testament, and he began to have serious doubts about the whole sacramental system that people were relying upon for their own salvation may Luther love the sacraments. Don't misunderstand me, but he was seeing abuses that he was deeply concerned about and with his keen and acute theological mind, the more he analyzed the outward edges of the abuses, the more his mind began to penetrate from the edge. More and more into the substance into the very core of the doctrines that were part of this whole system and the more alarmed he became about the practice and the theology that lay behind the very giving of indulgences and course. Once the 95 theses, which expressed some of his major concerns loose throughout the land.
The matter escalated fast and hard and furious, and what often happens in theological controversy as the two sides dig in and it gets deeper and deeper and deeper.
But again, Luther was not trying to upset the church. He was honestly trying to purify the church from this abuse, and he begged to have the opportunity to discuss these matters. Not only with his own faculty at the Augustinian University there in Wittenberg, but also with representatives from Rome herself, and 2 Very Important Meetings Took Pl. one in life's sake, and one in Augsburg where Luther entered into debates with two of the most important persons for the church in that. One was Martin ack and the other one was Cardinal Kay Tuten, who were two of certainly two out of the top three theologians of the 16th century for the Roman Catholic church, and in those debates.
Both ack and K church and tried in their debate with Luther to show Luther that the views that he was taking now on the doctrine of justification went against some of the teaching of the church in previous church councils and Luther was forced on one of these occasions to admit that his view did in fact differ from the teaching of the church and so now the question was, well, if your views differ from the teaching of the church. You must be wrong and you must submit to the authority of the church.
And Luther refused to do it and was therefore branded site. Reminiscent of John Huss, the Bohemian reformer from Czechoslovakia who had been burned at the stake. 100 years earlier for similar controversy and now it was just almost the deathknell to Luther to be identified with John Huss, but as the debates got deeper then it was shown to Luther that not only was he going against the certain teachings of church tradition, but he was also going against the teachings of the Pope himself and when Luther was confronted with that. He acknowledged that in his opinion, even the Pope could make a mistake and so it was demonstrated that Luther was standing against both church councils and against the supreme authority of the pontiff of the church and once these representatives of the church demonstrated that Luther was taking this kind of a hard-line position. They reported back to the Pope and as a result, Luther was placed under a papal man and the man of excommunication. The papal bull that condemned Luther's position was called X survey Domine now if you are familiar with the pattern of papal encyclicals you know that the titles of the encyclicals are taken from the opening words of whatever the encyclical is about.
So in this case X survey Domine is the first two words of this papal encyclical the condemned Luther and the words are rise up, O Lord, was a plea by the Pope for Christ to intervene and save the church from the scandalous influence of Martin Luther. He went on to say this, rise up, O Lord, a wild boar is loose in your vineyard and so Luther was condemned as a wild boar, a wild animal who was disrupting the vineyard of God with his stubborn insistence on his doctrine of justification by faith that you see that in those debates and in those discussions. The question the people kept hammering. Luther was with who do you think you are, who are you, I know your doctor the church and all of that, you know stupid dummy here, but who are you to challenge this ecclesiastical authority often when we look at the Reformation we say there were two chief causes of the Reformation and historians will distinguish between the material cause, and the formal cause and will usually write in shorthand, with the Latin slogans two words to capture that the word soul of the day which most of us have heard, which means by faith alone refers to the debate over justification and the other word soul a script Torah, which means by the Scriptures alone and the debate over church authority. What is the ultimate authority that binds the conscience of the Christian. Is it the Scripture and the teaching of the church. Is it just the teaching of the church. Is it just the teaching of Scripture will Rome said that both the Scripture and the church tradition were binding upon the conscience of the believer. Luther was saying no, only the word of God has that supreme authority to bind the conscience of the Scripture and so much of this debate got off the center of justification we could resolve that issue and they began to okay by whose authority Luther, do you dare to teach this and Luther said by the authority of the Scripture. Yes, I may be in disagreement with the Pope or with the church council but show me that I'm disobeying the Scripture and I'll change in a heartbeat. But again, Luther was daring to understand the Scripture and interpret the Scripture in a way that was different from how the church and interpret the Scripture and so he was in deep weeds for challenging the church authority and again that's what Beck and Kay Jatin were emphasizing in these discussions and have reported back to Rome, but Luther is not humbling himself before the tribunal of the church and so finally the crisis ends in this great tribunal that forms Luther again was asking. He says how often is my trembling heart complicated. Am I the only wise one. He spoke openly to Philip Melanchthon, who was his chief student and friend and comrade.
He said this, I shall enter forms under my captain Christ, despite the gates of hell and he said to his friends ballot and I come my spell thing and we shall enter forms despite the gates of hell, and the powers of the air and later reflection about what happened when he arrived in the city. Luther said, in fact, the condemnation had already been published in every town so that the Harold himself asked me whether I still intended to go to forms though in truth, I was physically afraid and trembling.
I replied to him I will repair thither, though I should find there is many devils as there are tiles on the housetops ribbon to hedge term contract know how many dowels there are now when Luther was very bombastic and not going to go there, no matter how many of their more devils there. There are tiles on the roof but he said inwardly. I was trembling. He was physically weak. Not sure he would be up to the task. The following day the 17th. The first hearing took place. It was held in what is called the Bishop's court and there in the presence of the Emperor himself. All the princes princes. Both of the church and of the state. Luther was asked two questions do you Martin Luther recognize the books published under your name as your own. That was the first question, secondly, are you prepared to recant what you have written in these books now. We seen the movie versions of this movie versions has Luther standing there in this great hall were all the officials were seated round about him. He's under this close scrutiny and he is commanded to recant and he stands up and with his fist in the air. He says unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture, or by evident reason I cannot recant for my conscience is held captive by the word of God and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe here I stand.
God help me I can do no other. And then he rushes out and jumps on his white horse and rides off in Christ Reformation know what happened on 17 April when he is called before the tribunal and asked to recant. He answered the question. The can even hear and asked him to speak up and he said can I have some time to consider this. He faltered in the court gave him 24 hours to think it over. So Luther retired then to his cell there in the city and he spent the night in prayer and the record of that prayer I think is one of the most moving things I've ever read that reveals the soul of a terrified man, a man who was desperately seeking assurance and courage to do the right thing for Luther, it was a private disseminate and listen to the words some of the words of his prayer, he prayed like this. Oh God Almighty God, everlasting, how dreadful is the world behold how it's mouth opens to swallow me up and how small is my faith in the fall of the weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan to find depend upon any strength of this world.
All is over, the Nellis truck sentences gone forth, oh God oh God oh thou my God help me against all the wisdom of this world do this, I beseech the thou shouldest do this by thine own mighty power because the work is not mine. It is thine eye had no business here.
I've nothing to contend for with these great men of the world. I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace. The cause is thine, and I am thine, and it is righteous and everlasting of the Lord help me God, my God, the still not here. My God ortho no longer living.
They thou canst not die thou dost, but hide thyself thou has chosen me for this work. I know it. Therefore, God accomplish your own will forsake me, not for the sake of the will, beloved son, Jesus Christ, my defense, my buckler and my strong my soul belongs to the and I will abide with the forever. Amen. Oh God, send help a man and on the morrow, he came back to the hall and again the question was placed to him in there. The famous speech was made were Luther said if you want me to respond clearly, plainly without horns noncriminal from then here is my answer unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture or Violet Reese cannot can't provide conscience is held captive by the word of God and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe here I stand can do no other, help me and if you are broke out in the hall Luther as he left the hole was surreptitiously kidnapped by his friends, and whisked away to Wartburg to the castle where he stayed in the skies is a night serve your day in which he undertook the work of translating the Bible into German.
In the meantime the Emperor was furious and put a price on his head and now the die was cast and there was nothing that would stop the juggernaut of the Reformation.
What do you think of Luther's stand that Lawrence was it heroic or was it diabolical. I believe it was one of the most courageous and heroic standards for the gospel that's ever been taken was taken by a man who really was terrified, but he was more frightened of God, that he was of men he knew what Galatians said he wrote two commentaries on Galatians 1 of them soon after. This is most important.
He knew that his task was not the policeman but to please God and the principal that he evoked in that event was important to Christians then and now to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Though it's true that we can have a misguided conscience and be convicted of things that are not appropriate, but once the conviction is there and we really believe that a certain action is the right action we must take the key to Luther. With this said, my conscience is held captive by the word of God. I'm a prisoner to the authority of the word of God to the authority of the Scriptures and I compromise that that is the foundation of the Protestant Reformation. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday were glad you joined us.
Dr. RC Sproul knew the importance of church history. That's why he included it is one of five categories of study, we have emphasized since RC founded locator ministries 50 years ago. The four other categories are theology, Christian living worldview and culture. And of course the Bible and today we are blessed to have a vast library of content on each of those topics, all designed to equip you and me to understand what we believe, so that we can share with others. You can count me among the thousands of people who benefited from Dr. Sproles ministry and if you have as well. I think you'll enjoy our resource offer today Dr. Steven Nichols who is the president of Reformation Bible college and one of our teaching fellows has spent the last several years researching and compiling a wealth of information about Dr. Sproles life and ministry are pleased to announce the release of his new biography. It's titled RC Sproul, a life would like to send you this hardbound edition would you give a donation of any amount to locator ministries. You can find us email@example.com or you can call us at 800-435-4343. Tomorrow we'll wrap up our series of messages featuring RC through the decades with passion and biblical precision. RC will remind us of the power and glory of God. We hope you'll join us Friday for in your mind