Skip to comments.The History of the Reformation…We Are all Beggars…(Part 12)
Posted on 12/09/2005 11:58:25 PM PST by HarleyD
We come this morning to the end of our present study on the History of the Reformation. Now it is not really the end. It is simply the end of our time for the time being. There are other topics and other studies and other teachers that deserve a chance at your attention. Still, there is so much we could have looked at and ought to have looked at together and we will. We will come back later on and in a separate class examine Calvin and Swiss Reformers. After that, in still a different class well look at the English Reformation and the rise of the Puritanism. Then finally in still a separate class well look at the history of the how the Reformation worked its way into the life of America through men like Whitefield and Edwards.
All of that is on the docket and will occur, Lord willing, in the future.
For the present, however it is time for me to draw our study to an end and yet I want you to know that I feel a measure of regret in doing so. There is so much I could have said and should have said and yet I have been constrained both by time and by my own inability to make some of these important issues come alive the way I really wanted. I know perfectly well for example that I have only scratched the surface of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation and of Luthers life and work. I know I have glossed over many of the important people and events of Luthers life. Nevertheless, I am trusting that in Gods kindness what we have studied together has given you a better understanding of things not just I perceived them but as they actually were.
I do want to thank you for your many words of encouragement.
You have consoled me with your kind comments and notes. I have been deeply encouraged by the fact that many of you have been encouraged to begin to study again the Reformation and the doctrine of justification and the life of Luther for yourself. I have been even more encouraged by those of you who are studying these things for yourself for the first time.
You could hardly do better and you could certainly do a lot worse.
And the reason for that, of course, is that in the Reformation as almost no where else in history the really important issues were actually the really important issues. The issues were the authority of the Bible, the content of the gospel and the mission and identity of the church. All of those issues are issues of life and death issues. All of those issues are issues of heaven or of hell.
All of those issues were just as important for farmers and tradesmen as they were for theologians. That is why I like the studying the Reformation. That is why I like studying Luther. That is why I like talking about the doctrine of justification.
They are all so imminently practical. For surely, no doctrine is more pertinent that the doctrine that will sustain us in that day in which we find ourselves standing before God Almighty in judgment. In that day, whether your car started every time or your children called as often as they ought to have done or your prescriptions got filled on time or your checkbook balanced or your husband showed you the attention you were due will not matter to you one single whit.
All of those things will melt into the recesses of your mind and care. All the things all those things that you thought were so practical and relevant will be taken over by one, single, overarching concern and that is what God will do with you and why. That is what will ultimately matter. It is ultimately the most practical thing a person will ever know.
I think Luther understood that. I think he understood that at the very core of his being. Or to say it another way I think Luther believed that the gospel could even save a Christian. I think he believed that the gospel could even save him.
Now that sounds like a strange thing to say. I mean Christians are already saved arent they? But what I mean by the gospel being able to save Christians is that the comfort of the gospel is able to provide encouragement to strengthen a Christian to continue to work and serve and live even in the midst of otherwise debilitating grief, suffering and sorrow. The gospel can actually redeem a persons life from the pit, even if they are already a Christian.
I think there is no better evidence to prove that than the way Luther died.
Now the remarkable thing about Luthers death is that very few of his biographers really touch upon it. Roland Bainton, for example, the author of Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther writes:
Now how a man or woman died was considered to be much more important in Luthers day than it is in ours. You see in his day, the manner is which a man or woman died bore important testimony to their faith. In our day, death is often masked over by drugs and pain medication. We seem to have the idea that death is something that ought to be slipped into like an old easy chair or an old pair of house shoes. But in Luthers day, they did not have any of the modern capabilities we do and men and women often died speaking and encouraging those around them. A persons last words were believed to characterize the heart and belief of the person who died. You can see how Luthers death might have been of intense interest to his enemies. Had he died poorly, his death might have been held up and a visual parable of the fact that his life and faith were less than heroic.
Now I think that is what most of his enemies expected. I think they expected him to die a violent and shameful death. I think they expected him to recant his views and to lapse back into his pre-Reformation views and beliefs. I think even some of his friends expected him to die poorly. I think they expected that Luthers impetuous nature and fiery temper would come back to haunt him but they were wrong about that. Luther died trying to make peace trying to reconcile two brothers back in his home town of Mansfield.
Now I think that is remarkable. I think everyone that reads about the death of Luther is sort of taken back by that fact. That is I think they are taken back by the fact that Luther ever devoted any of his time to trying to reconcile anyone.
You see most people only think of Luther the fighter and there is a reason for that. You see sometimes Luther could be quite contentious. I know that is a shock to all of you to be told that only as we come to the end of our study. But he could be. When he was arguing for what he believed to be truth, he could be quite litigious. He was not above name calling and he was not above course language and by that I mean just plain old cursing.
Those that hated knew that very well but those that loved him knew it too.
Calvin once wrote about Luther, Even if he calls me a dog, I will continue to call him father.
Now why would Calvin have ever written that? I think he wrote it because he feared it as a very real possibility. You see Luther went after anyone whom he thought erred. Late in his life, he especially went after the Swiss and the Swiss reformers and that is surprising especially since they held so much truth in common. You would have thought Luther would have been a bit more pragmatic about whom he attacked but he was not. He only cared about the truth.
You can see that especially, I think, in Luthers explosive reaction to Ulrich Zwingli.
Zwingli was the head of the Reformation in Zurich. He was an ardent fan of Erasmus and he was a military figure, as were almost all of the Swiss, and he was a wonderful classical scholar. Zwingli appreciated and admired Luther and Luthers contribution to the Reformation. But he came to many of his own decisions about the Reformation independently of Luther and he disagreed with Luther over the issue of images and over the Lords Supper.2
Philip of Hesse, one of the most important nobles in Germany, thought it was important that their two groups unite against the catholic princes, tried to get the two men together to make peace. So they did meet and they tried to settle their differences at the Marburg Conference in October 1529 but were unable to get past the issue of the Lords Supper. Zwingli held that the Lords Table was simply a memorial in which Christians recalled the death of Christ in their partaking of the sacrament. In his view, he was very close to where most Baptists are today. Luther, on the other hand, held that Christs body was actually present in the elements that is, in, with and through the elements and he deeply resented Zwingli minimizing Christs presence. They were unable, of course, to come to any sort of middle position. Luther probably did not help matters much.
You see when Luther first sat down at the table across from Zwingli he took a piece of chalk out of his pocket and drew a big circle on the black table cloth covering the table between them and wrote the words This is my body inside the circle. He said later that he hadnt done it to try to intimidate Zwingli or anyone else but had simply done it to keep the main point of his argument fresh in his mind.
But you can see how it might not have helped and it is so Luther-like.
Anyway they were unable to come to any sort of middle position and Luther later wrote:
However, if you read the account of Zwinglis death written by Martin Bucer youll find that Zwinglis death was pretty noble. He was mortally wounded first by hurled rock and then by a lance and when some of the soldiers of the Catholic opposition stopped to ask him if he needed a priest he just lay there under a pear tree looking up to heaven with his hands folded on his chest and shook his head no. When they asked him if he wanted an image of the Virgin Mary he again shook his head no. Then they asked him if he was a heathen and he shook his head no and then, of course, they figured out who he really was and ran him through and then quartered his body and burned the pieces in a fire mixing his ashes with the intestines of a hog they had killed earlier but that is beside the point.
He died as well as anyone has ever died on a battlefield.
But I digress. The point I was making is that Luthers death was important to Luthers friends and foes alike. Everyone wanted to know how Luther died and when I say that I dont mean that they were interested in a forensic analysis of what killed him but rather the manner in which he faced death. The question everyone wanted to know was, Did Luthers faith sustain him in his hour of death? Now what I want to do in the few minutes we have left this morning is just relate the events of his death to you and let you decide for yourself.
In December of 1545, Luther was called to act as a peacemaker between two brothers who happened also to be nobles they were counts and they ruled in the province in which he was born, the province of Mansfield. The two brothers were named Albrecht and Gerhard. Now this particular Albrecht is not the same Albrecht who had started the indulgence controversy. He was a different man altogether who just happened to have the same name as Luthers old nemesis, the Archbishop of Mainz. Now this man named Count Albrecht had already caused Luther and Luthers family a measure of discouragement and grief. As Count of Mansfield he had attempted to bring all of the copper smelting in the region under his control. Now you will remember that Luthers father had owned and run several copper smelters. Well, Luthers brother and brother in law also ran copper smelters and it turned out that Albrecht wanted to bring all of the copper smelters in Mansfield under his control up until that time the copper smelters had owned their leases by hereditary right. Now the reason Albrecht wanted to do that was so he could sell off of the leases and increase his tax revenue. For Albrecht it was a good business decision. For Luther and his family, it appeared as if Albrecht was trying to ruin them. Luther protested to Albrecht on behalf of his brother and his brother in law and wrote Albrecht a very nasty letter explaining to him that the reason Albrecht struggled so hard to understand the doctrine of predestination was because he was abusing his poor subjects with excessive taxation. In other words, Luther told him that his sin had darkened his ability to understand Gods truth. One historian says that when Albrecht received Luthers letter he grew so angry he threw it down on the floor and jumped up and down on it stomping it in a fit of anger.6 Luther had the ability to bring that out in people even as an old man.
Anyway, Albrechts brother Gerhard owed Albrecht a sum of money and Albrecht forced him to transfer both his debts and income to him until Gerhard made good his debt. Once he gained control over Gerhards income he raised taxes on all of Gerhards subjects basically trying to squeeze every last drop of money he could out of his brother and his brothers subjects. Luther and everyone else understood and despised Albrechts greed. Luther appealed to the Elector John Frederick and eventually Albrecht was arrested and put in jail which further increased the instability of the region.
Luther thought a little jail time would do Albrecht some good.
But he also saw that prolonged disharmony and instability in an evangelical province was bad for Reformation. So, he set about to negotiate a settlement between the two brothers and to restore order and peace to the province.
Now I want you to think about that. Luther was at that time the most famous man in the world and he was involved in negotiating a financial settlement between two brothers who were out to wreck each other and he did that for he perceived to be the benefit of the Kingdom of God. It is a very strange thing historically.
It would have been a little like have Billy Graham negotiating a settlement between two Tarrant county commissioners. He was a very big gun mediating a very small dispute. But the reason he did that, of course, is that he understood the tenuous nature of the Reformation. He wanted to maintain peace among the evangelicals so they would be united when the catholic princes finally assembled to try to undo the Reformation.
Luther would not live to see the war but he anticipated it perfectly.
So Luther took Melanchthon and went down to Eisleben to negotiate a settlement between the two men. While they were there Melanchthon got sick and Luther felt compelled to take him back home. That meant, of course, that later in the month Luther would have to return by himself.
Near the end of January 1546, Luther and three of his sons set off again for Eisleben. It was very cold. Luthers wife Katy and Melanchthon both were very worried about him. He seemed very feeble.
Still he went. When they came to a river swollen with winter rain and huge ice flows, they were unable to pass. (In a letter to his wife he wrote that the river was a huge female Anabaptist that wanted to baptize him all over again.7) Luther stayed in the town next to the river and preached on the Apostle Pauls conversion. He encouraged the saints there to venerate the Apostle Paul by holding to his doctrine and not by venerating his relics.
The people of Mansfield sent sixty armed riders to help him cross the river. Luther began to feel dizzy and fainted. Everyone assumed it was because he was so cold from crossing the river.
When he got to Eisleben he stayed with the city clerk. The people of the city furnished him all of the beer and wine he could drink.
He preached in Eisleben four times. He preached on January 31st, February 2nd, February 7th and February 14th. On the 14th, he oversaw the ordination of two new ministers.
The various groups involved in the negotiations met every two or three days simply because Luther was unable to meet more often. He sat through and involved himself in the negotiations although he found them extremely tedious. He was so weak that he was only able to participate for an hour to an hour and half at a time.
He wrote in a Bible in his room, If the Son is for us, who can be against us? Katy became desperately worried about Luther.
Luther chided her lack of faith, as if God could not create ten Doctor Martins if one of them died: Free me from your worries. I have a caretaker who is better than you and all the angels; he lies in the cradle and rests on a virgins bosom, and yet, nevertheless, he sits at the right hand of God, the almighty Father. Therefore be at peace. Amen.8
On February 16th, Luthers secretary John Aurifaber found a piece of paper in Luthers room on which Luther wrote in German, We are all beggars this is true.
Shortly after supper on the seventeenth, Luther went, as was his custom, to his room to pray at the window. He began to feel a terrible tightness in his chest almost certainly an attack of angina pectoris. About ten oclock Luther lay down in his bed. He began to quietly say to himself Psalm 31:5.
Count Albrecht and his wife arrived and Count Albrechts wife gave him a medication made of grated unicorn and no I have no idea what that might have actually been. Luther slept for an hour or so.
At about one oclock Luther awakened with another attack of pain. He expected matter-of-factly that he would die in the city where he had been born and baptized. He moved again from the bedchamber to the day bed in the room and once more commended his soul to God. They sought to warm him with hot towels. His hosts, the city clerk Johann Albrecht and his wife, were summoned, along with the two physicians of the city and finally Count Albrecht himself and his wife, Anna, who was familiar with drugs. The pain and fear continued. When he began to sweat, Luther saw it as a symptom of death. In a prayer he gave thanks to the God of all comfort, the Father of Jesus Christ, that he had revealed to him his Son, whom I have believed, whom I have loved, whom I have preached, confessed, and praised, whom the pope and all the godless revile and blaspheme. Here once again he named the content of this life in a positive and definitive way Luther commended his little soul to the Lord Christ. He was sure that death would not be able to snatch him from Gods hand. He based this on John 3:16: Anyone who believes in the Son, whom God gave in love, will not perish, but have eternal life. He stood firm in the words of Ps. 68:20: Our God is a God of salvation; and to God, fix belongs escape from death. Echoing the words of the aged Simeon (Luke 2:29) he said with confidence: Lord, let now thou thy servant depart in peace. Amen. Finally, he repeated Psalm 31:5 three more times, and became silent.
NIV Psalm 31:5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.
The accounts of Luthers death show again how deeply piety had been altered by him. All sacramental elements were missing. Of course, the no extreme unction, but neither did Luther make any last confession, although he treasured the practice of confession itself. Understandably, no last communion was offered, for Luther had otherwise had great reluctance about this practice. He had received the Lords Supper the Sunday before. Thus there were no priestly ministrations at all at his death. It was almost exclusively Luther himself who spoke, not the others present. This may have been a mark of respect in the face of his authority His last statements consisted primarily of brief, confident prayers to God and Christ, including the traditional deathbed prayer from Ps. 31:5. The recitation of Bible passages served to reassure him. His confidence corresponded to the confession of God and Christ that was his lifes work. Jonas and Coelius asked him expressly to confirm this at the end. Unlike the earlier situations when his life was threatened nothing is known about any word to his sons who were present or a final greeting to Katy. For the dying man, that was obviously not as important as his relationship to God and his vocation.9
The people of Eisleben prepared Luthers body for burial. They appealed to the Elector John Frederick to allow them to bury Luther in the town where he had both born and had died. John Frederick said that, if necessary, he would send troops to collect Luthers body and return it to Wittenberg. They complied. Luthers pewter coffin started home in a wagon.
Along the way, massive crowds turned out to see him pass by. Thousands tens of thousands paid their respects.
On February 22, 1546 Martin Luther was buried in the Castle Church at Wittenberg, the same Castle Church to which he had nailed his 95 Theses. He was buried in the floor of the church directly at the foot of the pulpit. Melanchthon delivered his eulogy and when he did he tried to explain Luthers impact on the world. He was quick to add that Luther had faults, many faults. But he was even quicker to add that God had used Luther to restore the gospel and that Luther had stood in the line of great prophets like Elijah, Jeremiah and John the Baptist. I think he was right but I think Luther had he heard it would have laughed out loud.
The specific passages I'd like Luther to explain (no beer for me, thanks) from the viewpoint of his philosophy are listed in my 20, along with reasons why Luther does not understand them.
I would say a man that can not present the gospel is in no position to judge the correctness of the teachings of Luther.
Paul addressed that very thing
Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
I'm an apologist for the Church of Jesus Christ.
If you want to talk "hate" and "retribution", Luther gave as good as he got. Maybe you'd like to post some of his more profane diatribes against Catholics and/or Jews so we can judge for ourself. "Papist ass" was one of his gentler insults.
Here St. Paul accuses Luther, whose tradition you are so rash to follow. The gospel Luther does not understand is presented in my #20, along with reasons why.
You still have not told us what the good news is? Is it that men can now grow their own seeds?
Jhn 15:5 I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
So few realize that our faith to believe is actually a gift . It is Gods faith in us that saves us .
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
Eph 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him
.Phl 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is] the gift of God:
Act 3:14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Rom 10:17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We are not looking at human hope or human faith .. but at a supernatural faith brought by God to the man . This is not faith the train will be on time or that the sun will rise in the morning ... This is a supernatural faith, to believe what others with human faith deny
1Cr 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
One does not work himself into faith .
What is the Good news ? What is the gospel? All Post 20 is is a defense of a work based salvation is that the gospel?
Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Rom 11:6 And if by grace, then [is it] no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if [it be] of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
I am a simple woman that loves Christ and the gospel and wants to show others that are thirsty where to find the water so they will never thirst again.
In your own words, what is the gospel?
Hey, I just ordered this and the old black-n-white one about Luther on DVD. Should be here day after tomorrow. Thought we watch it with the family back home since the churches are shutting down. ;O)
Then there would seem to be little to fight about.
You know, when More was condemned, he told the judges who condemned him that he looked forward to seeing them in heaven. I think you and I can at least say as much to each other, can we not?
Do you have a comment out of your own mind about the passages in Matthew and Luke I pointed out in #20? No, works based salvation is not in the gospels, as St. Paul explains in the quotes you pasted; but the necessity of works of charity is, nevertheless, in the gospels, particularly in the passages that I outlined in #20. These are the parts Luther did not retain from all his reading and you cannot explain.
What you pointed to was not good news. It was not the gospel.
When you know what the gospel is come and see me :)
Ahh see only one of us is correct, the way is not wide it is narrow.
Now your church has cursed me, so if I am right and they are in serious error I will be in heaven, they will not .
If they were right and salvation is earned thought the graces dispensed by Mary through the church and as a reward for good works, as they burn in purgatory for all their forgiven sins, I would be in hell.
Obviously if I thought that was true I would be buying a statue of mary to put flowers in front of .And there is not a chance in hell of that happening :)
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
1Jo 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
1Jo 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
I know that I know do you know that you know?
What I pointed to was the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, parts of the "scriptura" that is supposed to be "sola" source of doctrine. I understand your wordplay, and I am not inclined to play it, -- it is a part of Luther's obfuscation of the meaning of scripture.
Let me repeat: Luther did not understand important parts in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew (see #20).
Mat 11:5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
What was preached ?
Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Will the end come before you can tell me the gospel ? :)
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Are you denying the written gospels now? Post 20.
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
What was the Good news that He preached?
It is wonderful that you realize that the written scripture alone is insufficient for understanding Christ.
My point (see post 20) is much simpler, that the written Gospel was not understood by Luther, who held the erroneous view that it is sufficient. The proof of that is in how when I ask a Protestant for an exegesis of the passages I pointed out in 20 (there are, of course, others, equally left unread), they give me a pepperspray of quotes from Galatians and Romans, with which I wholeheartedly agree, but they do not explain the Gospel in front of them.
That's my tag-line...nice to see it in bold red!!
Actually, I feel the Gospels show us even more clearly than Paul...Believe in the Messiah and his sacrifice...John 3:16-18 , my tagline, etc...Matthew Mark Luke and John are overflowing with the same ideas as Paul writes about...Christ died for our sins, we are brought to the FAther by the Spirit, etc...it all agrees...
I think we'd all be better off if we just do works of love because we love our Savior and we want to follow his commands of Love God first and love your neighbor...then all the passing lane discussions go away...
Here's my proposal for 2006...let's all just do what Christ asks of us...believe, be baptized, repent, love God and the saints, do the works of love that are prepared for us because we want to please our God and have a living faith...Who's with me???
Blessings in Christ...
Are you saying that God himself is incapable of putting into written form the words to lead to understanding Christ? That's a new one to me...how do you justify this statement?