Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. At key moments in time, men arise who are destined to change the tides of history. One such man was Martin Luther, who upended the corrupt church of his day. He set in motion the recapture of the true gospel after it had been buried for centuries.
Today, his story. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, you're talking today about Luther, the wild boar in the vineyard. Luther was not perfect, but then none of us are. I'm glad God uses imperfect people to accomplish his purposes.
Dave, we're all glad for that. And of course, as you mentioned, Luther is very imperfect. But I want to actually go back 100 years before Luther and remind you that Luther said, I am a Hussite. What did he mean by that?
He meant that he was a follower of John Huss. Let me ask all of you who are listening today a question. Have you ever heard the expression, you can cook somebody's goose or perhaps they cooked his goose?
Where did that expression come from? Well, at the end of this message, I'm going to give the answer to that question. Meanwhile, I want to tell you that I've written a book entitled Rescuing the Gospel, the Story and the Significance of the Reformation. All of this information is contained in this 200 page book. And for a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Even as we learn about Martin Luther, I'll give you more information so that you understand how he stood on the shoulders of a man by the name of John Huss. We're talking about the boar in the vineyard, the wild boar loose in the vineyard, namely Martin Luther. This is what Pope Leo X wrote about Martin Luther back in 1520 as he issued a papal bull.
The word bull has nothing to do with an animal. It has everything to do with a papal decree that was against Luther. And this is what it says. Arise, O Lord, and judge thy cause.
A wild boar has invaded thy vineyard. Arise, O Peter, and consider the case of the Holy Roman Church, the mother of all churches, consecrated by thy blood. Arise, O Paul, who by thy teaching and death hast and dost illuminate the church. Arise, all ye saints and the whole universal church whose interpretation of scripture has been assailed. And then it goes on to list some of the grievances against Luther. And then it ends by saying Martin Luther has 60 days to recant dating from the publication of this bull in his district. Anyone who presumes to infringe upon our excommunication and anathema will stand under the wrath of the Lord God Almighty and the apostles of Peter and Paul.
June 15, 1520. And the author, as I mentioned, Pope Leo X. Well, who is this wild boar loose in the vineyard of the Lord? Who is this man who grew up in a lowly family and yet ended up becoming so famous that more books have been written about him than any other man who ever lived except Jesus Christ and Paul? Why is it that there are popes and emperors who are primarily known for their relationships with him? Pope Leo, for example, if you ask someone what is he famous for, he's famous for excommunicating Luther. By the way, you know what they did with this papal bull?
I have to throw these things in because all of this time goes so quickly. The students took it in Wittenberg and they had a day off of classes and they made fun of the papal bull. They burned all of the papal bulls that were available. They went through the town and a chronicler said they did other things which college students do which we'll not write about.
So college students have always been the same. And you can go today in Wittenberg and there's a sign there where this papal bull was burned. But who is this man? Well tonight I want you to enjoy his story and then we're going to turn to the scriptures to see what really changed him and the sock that came unraveled, so to speak, after he made his great discovery.
And tonight we will get into the great discovery, the great discovery. Well it was in 1505 a young university student by the name of Martin Luther was walking along past the Saxon village of Stotternheim when lightning struck him to the ground. Help me Saint Anne and I shall become a monk, he called out. Well needless to say he lived and so to fulfill this vow as well as to bring some peace to his troubled soul he decided that he would leave the university in Erfurt where he was studying law and transfer in the same town to the Augustinian monastery. At home he had experienced love and harsh discipline.
He is recorded to have said my mother canned me for stealing a nut until the blood came. His father Hans spend several days working in a mine until he owned a half a dozen foundries. Like other peasant homes at the time the atmosphere was rough, coarse, and also devout. Prayer, strict morality, and loyalty to tradition was fervently enforced. His early education was by rote and discipline.
By our standards it was very strict. Instruction was given in Latin and those who lapsed into German were given the rod. Yet Luther came to appreciate his teachers and later on his Latin is going to come in handy. Even in his youth he testified to having depression. There is a sense of existential despair as well as elation and he experienced both. And so his theology eventually is going to be affected by this sense of despair, this sense of guilt that he found no cure for until he uncovered the gospel. In those days there was no assurance of salvation. Students vacillated between dread and hope between damnation and forgiveness and you were told that if you believed that you knew that you had eternal life you were guilty of the sin of presumption. The fires of hell were stoked to remind the parishioners of the need for the sacraments. The fear led to despair. They were reminded that purgatory existed for those who were not bad enough to go to hell but neither were they good enough to go to heaven. I spoke to someone a few years ago who said as long as I can get into purgatory because the end of purgatory is actually heaven once all the fire has burned out the sin.
But if you go to hell of course there's no hope that is eternal. Luther was terror stricken at the sight of Jesus Christ as judge. He sought to lay hold of every means of grace that was available to him. And now in the Augustinian monastery he was there because he believed that this lightning bolt had come to him from God but also he was there to bring quietness to his soul and to see whether or not he might be able to earn eternal life. When his father heard that his son had entered the cloister he was enraged. Later on he was reconciled to his son.
He was deeply disappointed that this brilliant son of his did not study law because if he had studied law he'd have been able to make more money and to help the family. Luther as the monks before him prostrated himself on the steps of the altar there at the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. And when asked what seekest thou he answered God's grace and mercy. The rigors of the monastic life were explained which included the renunciation of self-will, the scant diet, rough clothing, vigils by night, labors by day, mortification of the flesh, the reproach of poverty, the shame of begging, and the distastefulness of cloistered existence. This was part of the way in which the flesh would be put to death and salvation would be achieved.
Another parenthesis. In Erfurt when you go there you can see where Martin Luther where all the monks said their vows. They actually said them on the grave of one whose name is Johannes Zacharias. Now that's interesting because if you were here last time and we talked about the Council of Constance he was one of the leaders in the Council of Constance that voted to have Huss put to death and burned at the stake. So isn't it an interesting juxtaposition of history that on the very grave where a leader in the Council of Constance is buried it is there that a man lay down flat to take his vows who would shake the church to its very foundations. So with God's help Luther promised to take upon himself these burdens. The choir sang, civilian clothes were exchanged for the monk's habit.
Here O Lord our health filled prayers and deign to confer thy blessing on this thy servant that he may continue with thy help faithful in thy church and merit eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. So Luther was taken to his cell and the procedure of the monks was carried out. Now in those days they must have gone to bed early because they were awakened about two o'clock in the morning for prayers and prayers and more prayers and more confession and more prayers. Now the first mass that he performed is very famous because of Luther's feeling about it. He anticipated the first mass but was hardly prepared for the terror which struck him as the bread and the wine were transformed into the literal flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. He knew that performing this miracle was the high point of priestly worship. Only the priests had such power. This lay at the heart of the distinction between the clergy and the priesthood. If you were a priest you had the power to take ordinary wine and bread and transform them into the literal body and the blood of Jesus Christ. Luther postponed the day of his first mass so that his father could be present and eventually his father came and actually came with 20 horsemen and brought a gift to the monastery so his dad was beginning to be reconciled to his son whom he had no clue would someday be so incredibly famous.
Before approaching the altar Luther received absolution for all of his sins. His vestments were carefully arranged and he took his place before the altar and these are very famous words. Later on he talks about the way in which he felt. When he got to the phrase we offer unto thee the living and the true and the eternal God he related afterward at these words I was utterly stupefied and terror stricken. I thought to myself with what tongue shall I dress the majesty seeing that all men ought to tremble in the presence of even an earthly prince. Who am I that I should lift up my eyes to raise my hands to the divine majesty the angel surround them at his nod the earth trembles and shall I a miserable little pig me say I want this or I ask for that I am but dust and ashes full of sin and am speaking to the true and the living God. Only by fearful restraint was he able to complete the mass. It was the same fear that the ancients had before the Ark of the Lord. Now later on Luther had a conversation with his father who was present and his father was still angry and said that you learned scholar have you never read in the Bible that you should honor your father and your mother.
And here you have left me and your dear mother to look after ourselves in our old age. Luther knew that the decision that he made was right and simply said to his father I can perhaps help you more with my prayers than I can if I were to earn money for the family. Luther told his father that he had been called by the voice of God in the form of a thunderbolt and his dad replied God grant that it was not an apparition an apparition of the devil. And the day would come when Luther will wonder whether or not it was the devil that gave him that apparition that lightning bolt. Luther gave himself without reservation to all of the things that were required of him.
In fact he overdid them. If they were told to pray a half an hour Luther would pray the full hour. If they were asked to fast for a few days Luther would fast for a week. In 510 he made a trip to Rome to settle a dispute in the Augustinian order.
He and a companion represented Erfurt. A number of years ago we were in Germany and then we took a bus trip all the way to Rome because we visited the city of Rome and as we drove for what I remember to be a whole day by bus through hills and mountains and all that I wondered how in the world did Luther and his companion ever walk that distance. Of course you know they stayed in various monasteries along the way but I can tell you no wonder it took the months to get to Rome and to get back.
Those were very rigorous days believe me. When in Rome and I'll simply tell you the story Luther was very disappointed in Rome because he thought that maybe in Rome he would find peace for his soul. So he visited all the important places he said mass in all of the important places that he possibly could and he was shaken by the lax morals of the priests in Rome. He came back and said that if there ever was a hell Rome was built on it. He said that he would take time saying mass and there were other priests behind him who would try to make him hurry up and he would hear other priests sarcastically saying when they were going through the mass wine thou art and wine thou shalt always be bread thou art and bread thou shalt always be and Luther was just appalled at this lack of reverence. He climbed the stairs that are today in St. Lateran's Church saying prayers on each one. When I was in Rome I noticed that those stairs are still people are crawling up those stairs particularly tourists many of them Americans and I took a picture of a sign that said if you say prayers on each of these stairs you get so many days off in purgatory.
So those stairs are still there believed to be the stairs of Pilate's Judgment Hall but of course that is superstition. Now after he got back from Rome he was asked to teach in Wittenberg because a man by the name of Elector Frederick was beginning a university in the little town of Wittenberg and he wanted this university to rival the universities in Halle and Leipzig. So Luther being a brilliant man was asked to come and teach philosophy. So he began to teach philosophy but there was no hope for his soul but it was there in Wittenberg that he met his confessor by the name of Johann von Staupitz. Luther says were it not for Staupitz I would have descended into hell. Luther began to confess his sins to Staupitz sometimes six hours at a time.
This was the problem that Luther faced. Sins in order to be forgiven had to be confessed in order for them to be confessed they had to be remembered if they were not remembered they could not be confessed and if they were not confessed they would not be forgiven. The problem was he knew that he could not trust his memory so what he did is he would begin by reciting the Ten Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins just to jog his memory so that he could remember all of his sins. And then after six hours of confession he would go to Staupitz and say Staupitz I really do think that I've overlooked something. Could you imagine Staupitz's response?
How would you like to work with somebody like that? Staupitz was absolutely exasperated and one day said if you expect Christ to forgive you next time come in with something to forgive murder blasphemy adultery instead of these little peccadillos instead of these little sins let it be a big sin and then we'll deal with it. But Luther was a better theologian than his contemporaries. He understood that the issue was not whether the sin was big or little. He understood that one smidgen of sin will damn you forever in hell. He understood that because the teaching of the church which is of course taught in the Bible is that unless you are perfect you cannot get into heaven. Tonight I want you to know that if you're here and you are not perfect and you die in your present condition you will go to hell. Make no mistake both Catholic and Protestants believe that. Unless you're as perfect as God you will not be allowed into heaven.
You will be damned. So Luther sought perfection in all of these ways and in addition to confessing his sin he realized also that the situation was even more troublesome than he realized that his whole nature was corrupt. So you see his problem was this even if he remembered all of his sins even if he confessed them all today he took care of them but tomorrow was another day with brand new sins was like trying to mop up a floor with a faucet running. In German there is a word for what Luther experienced it is unfechtungen.
How can we translate that into English? It's an existential sense of despair of soul. It is guilt.
It is this alienation from God. Luther was tormented. My friend it's so important that you listen next time as we explain why it is that Luther was tormented and how he found an answer to his quest. But at the beginning of this message I mentioned the name of John Hus.
In the Czech language the word Hus means goose and according to one account before he was burned at the stake because of his faith he said you can cook this goose but in a hundred years from now a swan will arise and him you will not silence. 102 years after he was burned at the stake Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg and he believed that he was the fulfillment of Hus's prophecy. All this of course is in the book I've written entitled rescuing the gospel the story and the significance of the Reformation. I think that this resource will be of tremendous help in helping you to understand yes your own faith some of the divisions within the church today and we'll look back on history with appreciation for all that has gone on before.
For a gift of any amount it can be yours go to rtwoffer.com as you might realize rtwoffer is all one word rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You'll also discover why it is that in the middle of a debate Luther realized he was a follower of John Hus. He said I am a Husite and the implications were huge. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The Bible tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. This poses a dilemma for Jesse one of our many running to win listeners. Here is the question Jesse asks I have heard that faith is a gift from God and not something we can obtain on our own.
Is this true? Can you tell me how we can obtain faith? Jesse it's a very good question but let me say this I do believe that faith is a gift of God but that doesn't mean that this faith is given to us in some kind of a vacuum where we just simply walk around hoping that God someday is going to give us this gift of faith. Faith is generated actually by the word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. If you want to know how to get faith what you do is you read the word of God. Now I do believe that on behalf of those who believe and trust Jesus Christ as Savior that faith is indeed a gift. It is not something that you and I can conjure up but it is a gift given to us by the Holy Spirit but that gift is nurtured and it is given to us also by the word the word and the spirit work together to grant faith.
So there's your answer get into the word of God have it wash your soul and it will also bring more faith to your heart. Thank you Jesse and thank you Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on ask Pastor Lutzer or call us at 1-888-218-9337 that's 1-888-218-9337.
You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time on Running to Win more on the biography of Martin Luther and his conversion after teaching from the Psalms and the book of Romans. Make plans to join us as the reformation then and now continues. Thanks for listening for Pastor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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