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When Doctrine Determines Your Destiny Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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June 9, 2023 1:00 am

When Doctrine Determines Your Destiny Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 9, 2023 1:00 am

The Reformation upset centuries of accumulated religious tradition. The church in Martin Luther's day was resistant to change, going after him with a vengeance. In this message, Pastor Lutzer paints a picture of Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms. Martin Luther is known for his Ninety-Five Theses, but he also planted the seeds for religious freedom.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

It's not easy to upset centuries of accumulated religious dogma. The church in Martin Luther's day was resistant to change and went after Luther with a vengeance. Today, a recap of the life and life change of Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation.

Stay with us. 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, do the churches of our day need reforming, or was what Martin Luther accomplished in enough? You know, Dave, I think it was Martin Luther himself who said that the church constantly needs reforming.

It's not that the church should adopt new doctrines, but those doctrines have to be applied to a new generation. One thing that I think the church is lacking today is any real conviction and sense of the holiness of God. Luther tells us how he felt when he performed his first mass. He said, at these words, I was utterly stupefied and terror-stricken. I thought to myself, with what tongue shall I dress such majesty, seeing all men ought to tremble in the presence even of an earthly prince? Who am I that I should lift my eyes or raise my hands to the divine majesty? And he goes on to describing how fearful he was, lest God strike him dead. We've lost that sense of God's holiness today, haven't we? All of these accounts are in my book entitled Rescuing the Gospel, the Story and the Significance of the Reformation. What is it that we are missing today that the Reformation can contribute?

What were those controversies? For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The title of the book, Rescuing the Gospel. We're going to continue our discussion of the Reformation, both then and now. It does have relevance and we should be encouraged by the life of someone like Martin Luther. Maybe you have a Catholic background and perhaps you are a member even now of a Catholic church.

I want you to know that you are most welcome. This is only an opportunity really for us to contrast views to understand what happened historically and its abiding relevance today. Last time we introduced you to Luther, and this will only be the other lecture that I give, this one on Luther, and next time we are going to talk about Calvin, love him or hate him. What shall we do about Calvin?

Oh, you won't want to miss that. But today it's Luther. Last time I told you that the thing that he struggled with was this sense of depression and alienation from God. And the question was, how do you find rest for your soul when you're a sinner? And all that happens is the more you confess, the greater the sin seems to be.

How do you get from out from under the load of guilt? And when Staupitz told him to teach the Bible, Luther said, it will be the death of me. But there in Wittenberg, he began to lecture on the Psalms and he began to lecture on Romans and discovered the truth of scripture that the just shall live by faith, that justification is not God making us righteous so that we never know quite how righteous we are, but rather justification is God declaring us to be as righteous as Christ himself is. So if by faith we receive Christ, we have his righteousness credited to our account. Now that's good news for sinners. If you're here tonight and say, well, I'm not a sinner, then that might not be such good news.

But I suspect that those who know you would think that it should be good news for you too. All right. And then what happened is there was the indulgence controversy. I told you about Pope Leo X in Rome, the St. Peter's Basilica that you see on the news, the tears were laid, but it was unfinished and he needed money.

So he went to one of the German banks, borrowed money, and then he said that we will have an agreement that as we pay it back, we'll pay half of it to the papacy and the other half to the banks. And the way in which we are going to get money is through indulgences. Now, an indulgence was the remission of temporal penalties. It took the place of various penance that had to be done. Temporal penalties, not eternal penalties because only God could take care of that, but because purgatory was a temporal penalty, namely it had an end to it.

Nobody knew how long purgatory was. They just knew how much time they could get off if they looked at certain relics and gave certain gifts. So these new indulgences that the pope was issuing were not only for the living but also for the dead, those in purgatory. So Tetzel, who was an indulgent seller, went to the borders of Saxony and would set up his cross in town squares and begin to preach and say, hear ye, hear ye, this cross has as much value as the cross of Christ. And then he would begin to say, how can you not buy an indulgence for your mother who has died?

Hear her screams in purgatory and hear for a few pence, you can get her out of purgatory to heaven. People were buying indulgences. Now, Tetzel was not allowed in Wittenberg because there was an elector whose name was Frederick who didn't allow the traffic there.

But the problem was people were going across the Elbe River to other towns. They were coming back and they were talking to Luther and they were showing him indulgences. In fact, some of them had indulgences for sins that they had not yet committed but sins that they planned to commit. And Luther became angry and that's when he nailed his 95 theses to the castle door in Wittenberg.

And last time I mentioned one or two of them to you. I'll read you only 79 and 82 today. To say that the cross set up among the insignia of the papal arms is of equal value to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.

And then I think 82 that I alluded to last time. Why does the pope not empty purgatory for the sake of holy charity if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of that most perishable thing called money to be spent on building his basilica? And others, why does the pope have to be paid to empty purgatory?

If he has compassion, should do it without charging. Well, Luther had no idea that this was going to happen and have such repercussions. You heard the story of the man who was in the belfry of a church and he was walking there and kind of going from pillar to post and suddenly he slipped and reached out and grabbed a rope.

And the rope rang the bell and awakened the entire town. That's the way Luther felt because he began something. Now, the 95 theses were written in Latin but they were translated into German and thanks to Gutenberg, the printing press had been invented in the previous century and so they went throughout Europe and everybody was reading the manual. Remember what I told you the pope said, Luther is a drunken German.

He shall feel differently after he is sober. And now that sets up all kinds of intrigue that I'm not even going to tell you about because life is short and so is this lecture. But as things began to go along, Luther wanted to appeal to the secular powers. Charles V had just been crowned in Aachen and he was the new Holy Roman Emperor and the pope was above those powers he believed and so the pope told Charles V, get rid of Luther, kill him. But Charles V knew that Germans loved Luther and he knew that if he condemned Luther without a hearing that would be disaster. So he decided to have a hearing with Luther in Worms, city of Worms. And Luther accepted it. Luther was very sarcastic about going there. If I may look at a quote here, he says Luther believed that he was going to his death. Indeed, he thought that he was. He said that if God will not spare his life, my head is worth nothing compared to that of Christ, he said.

And he was very sarcastic. He said, I will reply to the emperor that if I am being invited simply to recant, I will not come. If to recant is all that is wanted, I can do that perfectly well here. But if he is inviting me to my death, then I will come. I hope none but the papists will stain their hands in my blood. Antichrist reigns, the Lord's will be done.

And here comes the sarcasm. This shall be my recantation in Worms. Previously I said that the pope is the vicar of Christ.

I recant. Now I say the pope is the adversary of Christ and the apostle of the devil. So I shall go to Worms to recant. Well Charles knew that he was in trouble because it is said that nine out of 10 Germans were calling for death to the pope.

And so what you had was a situation in which Luther was really a hero. He went into Worms. He said he will go there if there are as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the rooftop.

You can go to Worms today as I've had the privilege of doing many times and you can see today even the buildings have tiles. Two thousand people accompanied him to where he was to stay. Well the next day he had a meeting with the emperor and he was asked to recant. He was shown the books by Eck that he had written that is to say whom the books Luther had written and Luther said if you're asking me to recant give me time to think about it give me until tomorrow. So they said okay you can have until tomorrow now. That actually was kind of providential because what happened is the next day there were even more people there.

I mean the whole hall was filled. Here's the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V. Here are all of the German princess. Oh wouldn't you have loved to have seen this? But tonight what I'm going to do is to read you what Luther said but before that I want to read the prayer that Luther prayed that night. Remember he believed that after this he would be put to death and he should have been put to death because of what he was willing to do but he didn't he wasn't I should say he wasn't put to death because of a reason I'm going to tell you about. But this is his prayer. Oh almighty and everlasting God how terrible is this world. Behold it opens its mouth to swallow me up and I have so little trust in thee.

How weak is the flesh and Satan how strong. If it is only in the strength of this world that I must trust all is over. My hour is come my condemnation has been pronounced. Oh God oh God do thou help me against all the wisdom of this world. Thou shouldest do this thou alone this is thy work I have nothing to do here.

Nothing to contend for with these great ones of the world. I should desire to see my days flow on peaceful and happy but this cause is thine and it is a righteous and eternal cause. Oh Lord help me faithful and unchangeable God in no man do I place my trust it would be vain. All that is of man is uncertain all that cometh of man fails oh God my God here is to thou me not. My God art thou dead no thou canst not die thou only hide us thyself thou has chosen me for this work I know it well and then oh God stand by my side for the sake of thy well beloved son Jesus who is my defense my shield in my strong tower. Then he struggled and continued where stayest thou oh Lord. Oh my God where art thou come come I'm ready to lay down my life for thy truth.

Patient as a lamb for it is the cause of justice it is thine I will never separate myself from thee neither now or throughout all of eternity and although the world should be filled with devils though my body which is still the work of thy hands should be slain stretched out on the pavement be cut in pieces reduced to ashes my soul is thine yes thy word is my assurance of it my soul belongs to thee it shall abide forever with thee amen wow. All right so the next day it was actually in the afternoon he goes into the hall there's a table with his books on it he's asked whether or not these books are his he says yes he's asked whether or not he's willing to recant them he said he'd like to debate them individually because he says there are some things in those books that historically the church has always agreed with including the medieval church but they said that's just like heretics to always want to test their views with the Bible so they said no. Eck replied that it was indeed characteristic of heretics to want to defend their writings from scripture. He said that Luther was repeating the errors of Huss and Wycliffe.

How could he assume that he alone was able to interpret scripture? Finally the challenge was clear I ask you Martin I ask you candidly and without horns do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain? And now comes the words of Luther are you all able to handle them at this moment?

Anyone here who says this is too much for me I have to leave. Are you able to absorb it in your soul? These words should be engraved upon your heart and mind and memories until the undertaker and the pastors say dust to dust and ashes to ashes. I think I can quote them but I prefer to read them to get them straight because there are two different versions of them. Since then your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason because I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other my conscience is captive by the word of God I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe so help me God. Another version adds here I stand I can do no other so help me God amen.

And with that he left the room. Charles the fifth was an ardent Catholic. Luther had been promised safe conduct so Charles wanted to give him that safe conduct so the idea was Luther go back to Wittenberg and once you're there we fulfilled our promise of safe conduct.

Anyone can kill you anyone can kill you without reprisal because you're a fugitive of justice and you are to be put to death. It was very very clear Charles the fifth said a friar a single friar reading the scripture cannot contradict the church and what the church had believed for a thousand years. All right from here on out because time goes so quickly I'll tell you the story rather than reading it to you. Luther leaves that night with horses and some people traveling with him and he's supposedly on his way back to Wittenberg and suddenly from the ditch are a group of men who come out of the ditch they subdue the horses and they take Luther and they hide him in the Wartburg castle. These men were actually planted there by Frederick the Elector Frederick who is Luther's friend. Now you say well who in the world is this Elector Frederick? Elector what do electors do? You know what electors do?

They elect. There were seven of them and they had the responsibility of electing the person who would be the head of the Holy Roman Empire. The Elector Frederick was involved in the deliberations regarding Charles the fifth so Charles you see did not want to anger an Elector because you needed them to be on your side and the Elector Frederick had the dominion and the area of Saxony in which Wittenberg was included and he was a friend to Luther and when Charles the fifth asked all the electors to sign his decree that Luther be put to death the Elector Frederick refused to sign. So what he did to save Luther's life rather than let him go back to Wittenberg where he would be killed by someone. He took him and he captured him and put him in the Wartburg castle.

Of all the castles of Germany one of the most remarkable is the Wartburg. You go through it and it's just room after room the hall after hall and you almost become weary of it until at the end of the tour when almost everything is exhausted they say oh yeah here is the Luther Stuba here is the Luther room and you can go into that room and you can contemplate what happened there. I would say that the room is probably the size of a of a kitchen bigger probably than a kitchen more like a living room maybe a very very just masonry for the floor a desk that's where Luther supposedly threw an inkwell at the devil. Tour guides used to always take a little bit of soot and rub it on the wall because you know you pay so much to go to Europe you have so many stairs to go up to the Wartburg if you don't see where the inkwell landed it's a little disappointing. I'm not so sure that Luther threw an inkwell at the devil.

In his table talks he said I fought the devil with ink. Now Luther lived there for 10 months. What he accomplished there in 10 months is unbelievable. He translated the entire New Testament from Greek he was able to get his Greek New Testament into German in 10 months. He didn't do the Old Testament there that was a lifelong venture but he did the New Testament. But it was in that room that he experienced so much agony in his table talks he says he looked out the window and his only companions were the birds. Nowadays you can't open the window and it's stained glass but back in 1971 when I was there we were actually able to open the window and see the very force that Luther was able to see.

And it is there that he had a lot of agony he couldn't sleep he always suffered from insomnia anyway. And Luther by the way had ringing in his ears he said it was equivalent to the bells of Leipzig, Halle and Wittenberg all put together. And so there he was and this is the question that kept going through his mind can you only be right? Can the church of a thousand years to think back over the remark of Charles V can the church for a thousand years have been wrong about these things? All right my friend this is Pastor Luther I want you to come with me into the room in which Luther translated the New Testament into German.

It is there as I mentioned in the message that he had great struggles. The devil would come to him and he struggled with his own sin but let me tell you what he said. He said when I was awake last night the devil came and wanted to debate with me. He rebuked and reproached me arguing that I was a sinner but I replied tell me something new devil.

I already knew that perfectly well. I have committed many sordid sins but Christ took all my sins upon him so that now the sins that I have committed are no longer mine but they belong to Christ. This wonderful gift of God I'm not prepared to deny but I want to acknowledge it and confess it. And Luther eventually won over the devil so to speak.

He was able to confront the devil and discovered that there was peace all because of what Jesus Christ had done on his behalf. I've written a book entitled Rescuing the Gospel of course it contains all this information and for a gift of any amount it can be yours. Here's what you can do go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Yes Luther battled Satan and he didn't know how to overcome Satan until Luther understood the gospel and the triumph of Christ. Once again connect with us and for a gift of any amount this book can be yours go to Rtwoffer is of course all one word or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for helping us together we're making a difference and remember the name of the book Rescuing the Gospel.

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. The word of God is the key to spiritual understanding and reading it in one's own language is crucial. That's why Luther did a translation into German which helped to unify the German nation. Next time more about the aftermath of Luther's conversion. Thanks for listening for Pastor Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister. Running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-09 03:45:26 / 2023-06-09 03:53:57 / 9

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