October 26, 2022 12:01 am
When Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, he just wanted to start a scholarly conversation. But he got much more than he bargained for. Today, Derek Thomas considers the spiritual renewal that burst forth in Germany and changed the world.
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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind why the Reformation matters Luther saw that at the heart of the gospel was the absolute necessity to take no glory for ourselves and If our wills are free if there is one Residual free molecule in our will then we get the glory On October 31st 1517 Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany It wasn't an act of rebellion. He simply wanted to begin a scholarly conversation among his fellow monks But what followed can only be described as a revolution as we approached the 505th anniversary of that seismic event Reminded that the Reformation indeed still matters our teacher today is dr. Darren Thomas So why remember Martin Luther this Extraordinary man an Augustinian monk of Relative obscurity this man brilliant a lawyer a Scholar with a Massive ego Course Hugely industrious But why remember him 500 years later Well Calvin who was a generation ahead of Luther Luther would have been a father figure to John Calvin One of the curious things of the Reformation is that Luther did not speak French and Calvin did not speak German and Calvin never really left Switzerland once he had vacated France and Luther never really left Germany and so the two had very little correspondence but Calvin writes that we ought to be thankful for Luther because He gave us back the gospel He rediscovered it and Rediscovered it in such a Dramatic and Personal way almost reflecting The very way the Apostle Paul had discovered the gospel In that so-called Breakthrough experience the so-called tower experience the cloister experience discovering that the righteousness of God That God demands of us and that he had tried so very hard to discover in himself That righteousness of God which was a thoroughly intimidating doctrine Was a righteousness that God provides Through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone a passive Righteousness as he first called it a righteousness that is all together outside of ourselves Extra-nose And there just in that insight alone That insight alone He had rediscovered the gospel and brought it back to us again Why remember Luther and let me try and answer this question along two lines of thought First the message and secondly the method The message and the method The message first of all What did Luther? Say that is important for us 500 years later and will be equally important if the Lord tarries a thousand years later Well the five solos Oh, they don't specifically come from Luther but the roots of all five lie in Luther's rediscovery of the gospel Sola fide by faith alone Apart from the works of the law Apart from any obedience or contribution on our part Apart from the sacramental treadmill of medieval religion Through faith as an instrument Empty hands grasping hold of the grace of God offered to us in the gospel All of God therefore and none of us Sola gratia by grace alone For as Luther discovered the more he tried To acquire the righteousness of God to perform To perform the righteousness of God The more sinful he became In his own estimation So that the good that he Would do he did not and the evil that he would not do he did and Wretched man that he was and discovered himself to be god is a god of Grace And mercy Offered to us In Christ and in Jesus Christ alone apart from The contributions of the virgin Mary apart from the contributions of saints past and present Apart from the contribution of the prayers of those who have gone into purgatory or wherever Solus Christus In Christ and in Christ alone And all of it on the bedrock of scripture as Luther as we heard earlier forced by ek to pronounce that declaration here I stand I can do no other so help me god Because our conscience Is not safe unless it is rooted and founded upon that which god says and where does god say it in? scripture in the bible alone and nowhere else And to the glory of god alone sally deo Gloria We remember luther for the five solas. We remember luther for Little latin phrases that open up a world of theology extra notes outside of us And how that simple phrase Helps us on a day-to-day basis that the grace of god the forgiveness of god The life of god is to be found outside of ourselves casting ourselves upon his mercy and embrace Theologia cruces a term that luther used because he Saw a tendency in the human being in the human frame to exalt himself And true theology lies in being well crucified In being brought low in making ourselves nothing and god becoming everything simul eustace at pakata at the same time Justified and a sinner that at the same time We are justified but we sin still And the method How did luther Promulgate the gospel and he did it in two ways two principle ways one One publishing luther published Over 600 titles some of them were just pamphlets and some of them were lectures that he gave but there are accent some 600 pieces from martin luther some of them Are definitive As a very young christian I had only been a christian for about a year or so in 1972 I picked up on a book table a copy of the bondage of the will Fairly sizable tome and not terribly easy to Read and written in a sort of dialogue and discursive fashion an argument that he was having with erasmus the dutchman the humanitarian humanist of his day Erasmus said after reading only a few pages of the bondage of the will that he hated this book Because luther saw That at the heart of the gospel was the absolute necessity to take no glory for ourselves and If our wills are free if there is one residual free molecule in our will then we get the glory He understood that our salvation is not entirely of the lord. It is also partly cooperative with grace on our part and we therefore take some of the glory and If god is to get all the glory We must recognize that our wills are in bondage bondage to sin It was vital for luther to understand that in terms of the very gospel itself Think of the german bible why remember luther perhaps the german bible the importance of a bible in our hands We forget We have bibles everywhere I have Dozens of bibles bibles in the office bibles in the car truck Bibles on my phone on my ipad But in the 16th century It was still a relatively new idea the thought of a bible translated into your native language And that you could read it apart from priests and the church Interpreting that scripture for you that you could read it for yourselves People have died to give us the bible They burnt in flames bodies Drawn and quartered and thrown into the river in ashes For giving us the bible luther's bible The freedom of the christian man a book that luther wrote in the 1520s In which he said Every believer every christian is free from all law and subject to none And every christian Is bound to all of god's law And obliged to keep it And it's the beginning of a discussion that paul has in galatians and in romans and that luther had in the reformation and that we have today between law and gospel How the gospel justifies us and sets us free from obedience to law and yet Brings us into union with christ that obligates us to keep that law He wrote in response to his barber His barber asked him one day for Help on prayer Teach me to pray So he wrote a little book a simple way to pray to help his barber pray Galatians An epistle which paul had written and and luther had lectured on in the 1510s and then returned to it later He called it My little letter He said about it I am married to it. It it's my katie von border his wife He loved this epistle because at the very heart of galatians Is the gospel The gospel of free and sovereign grace That had saved him And that luther believed we need to preach to ourselves every single day The method publishing writing books tracts And preaching He preached over 4,000 sermons that we know about although he was never technically a pastor 2,300 of those sermons still survive He was once asked about His method in preaching who did he preach to? He said I preached johansi and betsy little children So the diction that he chose was simple The concepts that he tried to elucidate though absolutely absolutely profound he endeavored to simplify He expounded the text And although luther is not perhaps on a par with john calvin as an exegete yet. There are times especially in his Exegesis and sermons on john's gospel. For example where he has the profoundest thoughts When luther died He died in the place he was born He was a man of some 60 or so years He had lived an incredibly full life and turned europe around Brought the gospel back His wife had told him not to go but he went He preached that sunday and then on monday he became ill And over the next few days became sicker the day before he died he wrote His confession of faith his Assurance of faith Made a statement that he was fully assured of forgiveness Of sins and of peace with god and that he would go to heaven when he died.
It was important that he do that In the medieval world you needed The absolution of a priest and roman catholicism had criticized Protestantism for the doctrine of assurance. So it was important for him to do that before he died To tell the world That this gospel had given him assurance When he died They had to send his body back to wittenberg in a metal coffin of some kind The story goes that they couldn't straighten his hand It kept It kept going into this position as though as though he was holding a pen or a quill As though he had more To say than he had already said that had turned the world upside down Though dead Luther still speaks To you and to me And he points us To the gospel And he points us to scripture And he points us to jesus And he points us to the possibility Of true and full assurance of sins forgiven by faith alone in jesus christ alone apart from the works of the law for that reason And that reason alone perhaps Is worth remembering 500 years later Because it is still the same gospel for you and me today as it was for luther in the 16th century Why remember luther? Because as calvin said He brought the gospel back to us Dr. Derek thomas helping us see the importance of luther's role in the protestant reformation This week on Renewing Your Mind. We are remembering the anniversary of luther's stand and we're airing highlights from our 2017 ligater ministries reformation 500 celebration R.C. Sproul and our teaching fellows provided great insight into the important events surrounding the reformation And we want to help you in your own study of the biblical doctrines that arose from it We'll provide you with dr Sproul's book luther and the reformation just contact us today with a donation of any amount We'll send you not only the paperback edition of the book, but dr Sproul's 10-part teaching series by the same title You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 or you can make your request and give your gift online at renewingyourmind.org Well during one of the q&a sessions at that conference rc was asked How should we respond to those who? Say that the reformation corrected all of the errors in the church and that there's no need really to to focus on them any longer What should we say though to folks? Uh, who think that these issues that caused the reformation aren't really issues anymore today One noted british theologian has made that comment in In print that the issues of the 16th century aren't the issues anymore today that all of a sudden the the division has been restored and and has been healed and all the rest that The realm doesn't teach indulgences anymore. It doesn't have a treasury of merit anymore What are they thinking what are they reading uh read the catholic catechism of the 1990s And see whether there's any treasury of merit and see where there's any indulgences and see rest No, if anything the issues are greater today Partly because of the impact of 19th century liberal protestantism that if anything has moved the gospel back in the darkness It's that and that heresy came out of protestantism Not out of the roman catholic church and yet we are being destroyed in the worldwide sense by the residual unbelief of the 19th century liberal destruction of the gospel What about today what is the biggest threat to christianity in this century as you see it right now Probably christianity in this century That's a greater threat than islam Christendom is a far greater threat to christianity Than islam is islam can never destroy the gospel but christendom Can easily destroy the gospel and is destroying the gospel Where it has the gospel in its hands destroying it the church Is the greatest threat to real christianity in the world God help us I I think I think for me, it's it's the whole issue of you know, whether you call it late modernity or postmodernity or whatever but But the whole questioning of truth And what is truth and is there any such thing as truth? And isn't it? Isn't it just your version of truth and your opinion versus mine and and that makes it very difficult to state objective facts about the gospel even even the spin that is now current and and this is not a political comment, but this the spin about false news and false spins on news and There's a there's a sort of Rejoinder to that that if if that is true and that and that is true and we all know that that is true That that there are versions of history out there that are completely falsified False news fake news, whatever you want to call it but at the end of the day, if you take that to its ultimate limit then then People don't think that there's any news at all that is true and it's and it's all fake and it's all personal but the gospel stands on facts of history that jesus was born in bethlehem that he died at calvary that he rose again I mean those are facts of history And to be able to say that in the 21st century. I mean that that is a real challenge You know calvin was asked this question why the reformation And he made the point that the whole form of worship is corrupt And behind that is calvin's understanding of who god is And I think every age of the church you brought it up when you're talking about isaiah in chapter six That it's really our view of god And you look around much especially of the church in america We have far too casual a view of god and that might be right at the center of some of our theological malaise Now to fully understand the reformation we need to understand martin luther's conversion What was it that sparked such passion in this man that god used to set the world on fire? I hope you'll join us for dr Sinclair ferguson's message finding peace with god tomorrow on Renewing Your Mind You
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