A Bit of Martin Luther for Reformation Day

If you have never read Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, you have missed out on some of the most brilliant and historically pivotal expositional writing in the last 500 years. Even my Roman friends, though disagreeing, might want to read it to better understand the kind of indexthinking that drove the Reformation forward. I first read Luther’s Galatians commentary many years ago in my mid-twenties when I was contemplating a move toward Roman Catholicism. It, along with Luther’s Bondage of the Will, Calvin’s Institutes, a healthy dose of RC Sproul, and, ironically, EWTN, persuaded me to remove my toes from the Tiber’s bank. Here, to celebrate the day, is one of my favorite sections from Luther’s Galatians commentary:

The heart of man finds it difficult to believe that so great a treasure as the Holy Ghost is gotten by the mere hearing of faith. The hearer likes to reason like this: Forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death, the gift of the Holy Ghost, everlasting life are grand things. If you want to obtain these priceless benefits, you must engage in correspondingly great efforts. And the devil says, “Amen.”

We must learn that forgiveness of sins, Christ, and the Holy Ghost, are freely granted unto us at the preaching of faith, in spite of our sinfulness. We are not to waste time thinking how unworthy we are of the blessings of God. We are to know that it pleased God freely to give us His unspeakable gifts. If He offers His gifts free of charge, why not take them? Why worry about our lack of worthiness? Why not accept gifts with joy and thanksgiving?

Right away foolish reason is once more offended. It scolds us. “When you say that a person can do nothing to obtain the grace of God, you foster carnal security. People become shiftless and will do no good at all. Better not preach this doctrine of faith. Rather urge the people to exert and to exercise themselves in good works, so that the Holy Ghost will feel like coming to them.”

What did Jesus say to Martha when she was very “careful and troubled about many things” and could hardly stand to see her sister Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, just listening? “Martha, Martha,” Jesus said, “thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” A person becomes a Christian not by working, but by hearing. The first step to being a Christian is to hear the Gospel. When a person has accepted the Gospel, let him first give thanks unto God with a glad heart, and then let him get busy on the good works to strive for, works that really please God, and not man-made and self-chosen works.


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4 comments

So powerful, thanks for sharing Matt.  Happy Reformation Day!

[1] Posted by Karen B. on 10-31-2014 at 05:22 AM · [top]

I like that Pastor Scotty Smith has posted today a prayer in gratitude for the Gospel and the Reformation

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2014/10/31/a-prayer-of-gratitude-for-the-gospel-on-reformation-day/

here’s an excerpt

On Reformation Day 2014, I gladly affirm that my hope is built on nothing less, nothing more, and nothing other than your blood and your righteousness. On you, Lord Jesus, the solid and saving Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. Keep bringing me back to the gospel, Jesus; keep bringing me back to the gospel plus nothing. So very Amen I pray, in your most holy and gracious name.

Amen and Amen

[2] Posted by Karen B. on 10-31-2014 at 05:27 AM · [top]

Hand that out to the trick or treaters tonight!

[3] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 10-31-2014 at 10:19 AM · [top]

Amen Karen, thanks for reminding us of this wonderful hymn.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness hides His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood,
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, May I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.

[4] Posted by Betty See on 11-5-2014 at 01:34 AM · [top]

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