In April, 1521, Martin Luther appeared before his ecclesiastical accusers at the diet of Worms. They had given him the ultimatum to repudiate his unwavering faith in the sufficiency and perspicuity of the scriptures. Luther is said to have responded, “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and counsels, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the word of God…God help me! Here I stand.” Like Martin Luther, may we rise above the doubts within and confront the threats without when God’s word is assailed. God help us to be loyal contenders of the faith. Let us stand with God and the scriptures alone.
When Martin Luther decided to confront the errors in the traditional religion of Roman Catholicism, he knew he was in for the battle of his life; that it may indeed cost him his life! Yet, he did not waver; but rather went straight to work systematically refuting error with scripture. Martin knew that God was a God of love, and that He did not reserve His counsel for only those in high position. Martin knew that God the Father desired above all to have a loving relationship with man – His creation; and that relationship was possible for anyone who opened there heart and called upon his name. Not just popes and counsels! In short, Martin Luther did much to advance the common man’s relationship with God through the scriptures. I think it is important to note at this point for the sake of this writing, that although Martin did much to advance the unfathomable loving grace of God, he did not fully conceptualize the absolute finality of the finished work of Christ as many do today. This assumption of course, is by no means designed to diminish the awesome fortitude and tenacity of his tremendous work. It only stands to highlight the revelationary flow of God’s grace as He continues to lavish it upon us in ever increasing measure throughout the centuries! For instance, Martin did not understand just as many Christians do not understand today the issue of God’s forgiveness. Martin was under the impression just as so many Christians are today that the forgiveness of God is accomplished in increments; in other words, little by little. We sin, then we ask God to forgive us. We sin, then we ask God to forgive us – That we may be made righteous again; or rather placed back in right standing with God. Unfortunately, the scriptures do not substantiate this claim, but in fact, outright reject it! Ephesians 1:7 tells us that in Him we HAVE redemption through HIS blood, the forgiveness of sins. Notice that redemption and forgiveness are a packaged deal. I John 2:13 says your sins ARE forgiven you because of HIS name, NOT YOUR MANY CONFESSIONS. II Corinthians 5:21 says that if we are IN HIM, we HAVE BEEN MADE the righteousness of God.
My friends, I believe it is important to take into consideration two things when considering Martin Luther’s position and stance: 1. He was young, or rather early in the church age; which means that it’s understandable that he would miss things that should be obvious to us some 500 years after the bible was translated into English. 2. We should take note of how tenaciously he dealt with error when he knew that the truth of God’s word was being assailed. Whether purposefully or unknowingly! The fact is, that we according to scripture are eternally righteous and forgiven the moment we received the life of Christ into our hearts. So let us not be Protestant – Catholics postured up in I John 1:9, (Father forgive me for I have sinned), but rather let us be grateful that we are forgiven people!
George L. Miller