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Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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October 26, 2021 12:01 am

Tower Experience

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 26, 2021 12:01 am

We won't understand Martin Luther's unwavering defense of justification by faith alone apart from his life-changing encounter with the book of Romans. Today, R.C. Sproul describes how Luther came to understand the gospel for the first time.

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For Martin Luther, it was Paul's letter to the Romans that God used to open his eyes to the gospel he began to understand what Paul was speaking up here was a righteousness that God in his grace was making available to those who would receive it passively, not those who would achieve it actively, but that would receive it by faith and by which a person could be reconciled to a holy and righteous God.

Martin Luther him let it protrude. Life is among his conscience was never assuaged, no matter how hard you he was terrified that his words would never be good enough to please God, but then he found Romans chapter 1 today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul describes the relief that swept over Luther when he realized the just shall live by faith were going to continue now with our study of Luther and the 16th century Reformation earlier in these lectures. I mentioned that in the younger years of Luther. He had a propensity for having a serious crisis every five years. In 1505. He had the lightning bolt experience that seven into the monastery and 15 time as we looked at the last time they had is experience of disillusionment on his journey and pilgrimage to Rome. But perhaps the most significant crisis of his entire life that episode that defined him as a man as a theologian as a reformer and as a Christian took place in the year 1515 and what it has been called his power.

Experience but before we look at the power experience.

We want to get Luther from Erford over to Wittenberg may begin by saying that shortly after he returned from his experience in Rome. He was called to move from Erford to the Augustinian cloister of the village of Wittenberg. Harford was a major city in Germany with a major university and Wittenberg was basically a small village of about 2000 inhabitants and extent of the city was less than 1 mile long name Wittenberg means white ill or white little mountain and it was situated on a stretch of white sand and bordered the Elbe River. The significance of Wittenberg at this time in history was that it was a village that was basically established by a man whose name was Frederick the Wise Frederick elector of Saxony and if you're not familiar with Frederick the Wise I have to say at this point that he was one of the major players of the Protestant Reformation, albeit in large measure on intentionally now Frederick's dream was to create a cultural intellectual center in Wittenberg that would rival the University of Heidelberg and the greatest intellectual centers of Germany and to that end, he scoured the German countryside, asking various monasteries to nominate their finest young scholars to join his new faculty at Wittenberg and he was able to procure the services of three brilliant young scholars, one of whom was Martin Luther Luther had not yet completed his doctor's degree. He had his Masters in biblical studies and he was summoned to the town to be the professor of Bible on the faculty there at Wittenberg, not in addition to founding the University there. Frederick also wanted to create the finest reliquary to be found anywhere in Germany. His dream was to make Wittenberg the wrong of Germany and so over a period of 10 or so years. He searched far and wide to collect various relics that he could house in the church there at bird that would attract pilgrims from literally all over Europe to make their pilgrimages to Wittenberg for the value of indulgences from purgatory that accompanies such a trip and so he was able to amass a collection of relics over 19,000 of them whose indulgence value. If you would look at each one of them during your pilgrimage would amount to 1,902,202 years and about seven months worth of time relieved from purgatory, and so his dream of establishing a giant reliquary there in Wittenberg was accomplished and among the relics that he was able to assemble include a piece of straw from the manger of Jesus hair from the beard of Jesus a piece of the cross a piece of the stone from the Mount of Ascension, even a branch from the burning bush of Moses and so this was quite a collection now Frederick the Wise is called elector of Saxony because he was one of several men in Europe that had a boat in the selection of the holy Roman Emperor, that one who would preside over the Holy Roman Empire, which scholars of said was neither holy nor Roman, nor really an empire and in fact in the year 1518. I believe it was the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Maximilian died and the emperors thrown was left vacant and there were three major candidates to succeed Maximilian. Two of them were the front runners. And the third was kind of a dark course. The front runners were Francis who was the king of France at the time. Charles, who was the king of Spain who didn't speak Spanish and was considered something of a moron, even by his contemporaries, and the third candidate who was lagging far behind Francis and Charles was the king of England, Henry VIII and so the plot thickened as the race continued and the Pope in Rome at this time. Leo the 10th desperately did not want either Francis or Charles to become the new Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and so he tried to lobby Frederick to throw his hat as it were in the ring and run for the office of Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire into that end, where the chance honored Frederick by giving him the highest honor that the Pope could give a secular ruler, and that was the order of the Golden Road and he bestowed that honor upon Frederick.

Hoping that it would induce Frederick to seek the Emperor's ship of the Holy Roman Empire. Frederick, however, one of the reasons he was called the wise was he declined the invitation but not interested in running for Emperor, and in fact cast one of the most significant deciding boats that put Charles on the throne as the Emperor of the holy Roman and part number. It is also significant for Frederick. In addition to his being the man who brought Luther to Wittenberg where the whole Reformation began, was that because of his political power in Europe. Frederick was able to serve as Luther's protector during the critical years it is been said by historians. If it weren't for the influence of Frederick the Wise Luther certainly would've been hunted down and would have been executed, but even though Frederick remained loyal to the Roman Catholic Church. He also was loyal to his faculty and wanted to make sure that Luther wasn't unjustly persecuted or prosecuted and executed, and so he stood in his defense for many many years. Even though, ironically, it's been said that Luther and Frederick never had more than three conversations in the whole history of their relationship, then a case when Luther was brought to Wittenberg as professor of Bible.

He began his lectures in 1513, giving lengthy lectures on the book of Saul's one of the things that we often overlook about Luther is that Luther was a master linguist and he was an outstanding interpreter of sacred Scripture. In fact, his method as it matured a biblical interpretation change the whole shape of biblical interpretation from the Middle Ages to modern approaches to Scripture in the Middle Ages, the favorite means of interpreting the Bible was through the use of what was called the Quadra got the Quadra got was a four fold method of interpreting the Bible so that you look first of all, at the literal sense of the text and then you find the ethical meaning of the text you find the mystical meaning of the text and you find the allegorical meaning of the text and this led to all kinds of wild speculation and imaginative interpretations of the Bible to such an extent that Luther said that under that system, the Bible became a waxed notes that anybody could twist and distort to make it fit whatever theory they wanted to bring it to the Scripture. And so Luther gradually came to the position that the proper method of interpreting Scripture was by finding what he called the sensors A Take a look at that the census letter, alias, which being translated main simply the literal sense of Scripture. I've had people asked me from time to time. The question of whether I interpret the Bible literally, but they usually don't ask it in that manner. They usually do it more negatively, saying you don't interpret the Bible literally.

Do you and when anybody says that to me you don't interpret the Bible literally.

Do you I never say yes, and I never say no. I always answer that query in the same way if someone would say to me you don't interpret the Bible literally. Do you my answer is always, of course, like the what other legitimate way is there to interpret the Bible other than to interpret it literally, but I understand when people asked me that question. They don't mean what Luther meant by the literal sense, or what I mean. What Luther meant by the census literary list was that we are to interpret the Bible, according to how it is written, if it's historical narrative you interpreted according to the rules of historical narrative. If it's poetry you interpreted according to the rules of poetry if it's a didactic you interpreted according to those cannons and so on, that there is no such thing as Holy Ghost Greek and the Bible announces amount of verb is a verb and you are to treat the Bible. In that sense, as though it were just like any other book.

Of course it's not like any other book because it than it alone is the word of God, but nevertheless Luther built a head around all attempts to have a mystical spiritualize interpretation of the word of God.

He wanted to look for the plain sense in the plain meaning of Scripture that we understand the word of God as it was originally written and given and so this principle of biblical interpretation was developing during his teaching years there at Wittenberg, which began essay with this lengthy exposition of the book of song in 1515 is the year I said that he underwent the most significant crisis, perhaps of his entire life in what is called the power experience began when he was given the task of lecturing on the book of Romans and and the very beginning of his lectures as he was reading through the first chapter of Romans, and came to Romans 116. He read these words, for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek and then in verse 17, which most scholars grant to be the thematic statement for the entire epistle of Romans, Paul writes this. For him it that is in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written, the just shall live by faith.

When Luther first perused that text and began to read the sentences of Lombard and other commentators from the Middle Ages. He was struggling with the concept in verse 17 that he found personally repugnant, this verse spoke of the subject that terrified Luther more than any other subject. Mainly the righteousness of God.

It was to salve his conscience that he had worked so hard in the monastery as being so rigorous in his asceticism, and in his pilgrimages and confessions and all that because he was haunted by the specter of a righteous God who Luther knew if he judged Luther according to God's standard of righteousness that Luther would perish. He also understood that no matter how hard he tried in the matter what he did he would never be able to satisfy the demands of God's justice or God's righteousness in order to make his way into heaven, so the ultimate Barry that stood between Luther and his God was the righteousness of God. Luther understood in the deepest part of his soul. The chasm that exists between the righteousness of God and the un-righteousness of the center and Luther saw no possible way to bridge the gap but as he was reading this text and studying this text in preparing his lectures. He came to a completely new and radical understanding of what Paul was saying in Romans chapter 1 verse 17 says in it.

In the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written, the just shall live by faith. A verse taken from the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament that is cited three times in the New Testament, as Luther was stopped short as what does this mean that there is this righteousness that is by faith from faith to faith. What does it mean that the righteous shall live by faith, which again as I said was the thematic verse for the whole exposition of the gospel that Paul sets forth here in the book of Romans and so the lights came on for Luther and he began to understand that what Paul was speaking up here was a righteousness that God in his grace was making available to those who would receive it passively, not those who would achieve it actively, but that would receive it by faith and by which a person could be reconciled to a holy and righteous God mother was a linguistic trick that was going on here to and it was this that the Latin word for justification that was used at this time in church history was immense. The word from which we get the English word justification.

The Latin word used to for Carteret and it came from the Roman judicial system and the term used to for Carteret is made up of the word use this which is justice or righteousness, and the verb the infinitive for Carteret, which means to make and so the Latin fathers understood the doctrine of justification is what happens when God through the sacraments of the church and elsewhere make on righteous people, righteous, but Luther was looking now at the Greek word that was in the New Testament, not the Latin word. The word the chaos because sooner day which didn't mean to make righteous, but rather to regard as righteous to count as righteous to declare as righteous. This was the moment of awakening for Luther, he said you mean here Paul is not talking about the righteousness by which God himself is righteous, but a righteousness that God gives freely by his grace to people who don't have righteousness of their he was confirmed in this understanding by reading an essay from Augustine on the letter and the spirit in which Augustine made that very comment that in Romans, Paul is not talking about God's righteousness but rather righteousness that was made available to believers by faith. So As well.

Even the righteousness by which I will be saved is not mine.

It's what he called you since the alien and alien righteousness, a righteousness that belongs properly to somebody else. It's a righteousness that is extra notes outside of us, mainly the righteousness of Christ. Luther said when I discovered he said I was born again of the Holocaust and the doors of paradise swung open and I walked through. There's no way to understand Luther's tenacity. Luther's unwillingness to compromise on the doctrine of justification by faith alone, apart from this life changing born again experience. For the first time this life, the interest of the gospel and to be redeemed somebody else's.

That's a place that we all need to come to resident realizing that our standing before God is not based on our works, but solely on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That's Dr. RC scroll from his series, Luther and the Reformation. We bring you this series as we approach the anniversary of the Reformation not to exalt the one man but to praise God that in his providence. He used committed people like Luther to bring the truth back in line with Scripture wearing just five of the 10 messages in the series Luther and the Reformation this week, but you can receive the full series on two DVDs plus a copy of the companion paperback book by the same title the book by the way is still on preorders so you'll be among the first to receive it. When you contact us with a donation of any amount you can give your gift securely online by visiting Renewing Your work. You can call us with your gift card number is 800-435-4343 was just over 500 years ago in 1517 that Luther nailed his 95 theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg. We commemorate that historic day on October 31 all Saints Eve you know wasn't Luther's intention to begin a revolt of any kind but that act is generally regarded as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation and as we approach that anniversary. We want to remember the importance of those events may give your contact information. Again, you can call us at 800-435-4343 or you can give your gift to make a request online and Renewing Your tomorrow parsing reveals the issue that exploded in the controversy for Martin Luther, the sale of indulgences. I hope you'll join us Wednesday for Renewing Your Mind

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