95 Lessons from Martin Luther

The New York Times said: ‘Long before Twitter, Martin Luther was a media pioneer. The 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 theses is being celebrated at institutions across the country [and around the world today], showing how deftly he used the media of his day.’ The Aquila Report joins the 500th anniversary celebration with a curated list of 95 links and resources.

Justification by Faith Alone: Martin Luther and Romans 1:17

1 – In this video excerpt from Luther and the Reformation, R.C. Sproul describes the moment of awakening Martin Luther had as he read Romans 1:17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

2 – It’s what Luther called a justitia alienum, an alien righteousness; a righteousness that belongs properly to somebody else. It’s a righteousness that is extra nos, outside of us. Namely, the righteousness of Christ. And Luther said, “When I discovered that, I was born again of the Holy Ghost. And the doors of paradise swung open, and I walked through.

3 – Did Martin Luther Invent Justification 500 Years Ago? – an article by Michael Horton

4 –  The Christian life is marked by assurance and joy. This was one of the hallmarks of the Reformation. Martin Luther’s rediscovery regarding justification — brought stunning deliverance, filling mind, will, and affections with joy.

Martin Luther Had Confidence in God’s Word

5 – On March 10, 1522, Luther explained the mounting success of the Reformation in a sermon. With strong confidence in God’s Word, he declared: “I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept … the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.” ~ from the article by Steven Lawson: Fortress for Truth

6Carl Trueman provided more details: “I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing.  And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no price or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it.” ~ from the article: Luther, Beer and 1522

7 – “When one reads Luther intensively, one is inevitably struck by his vision for the priority and awe-inspiring power of God as he acts in his Word. The Word is powerful, creative, destructive, and re-creative. — Only after one has grasped this does so much of his thought start to make any sense. This objectivity of God’s action comes to its dramatic climax on the cross at Calvary…  Power becomes weakness and weakness becomes power.” ~ from the article, Laughing With Luther,  by Carl Trueman

8Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer – (Short preview below.) – A new documentary film (2017). [1 hour 31 minutes] “Told through a seamless combination of live-action storytelling and artistic animation, Martin Luther’s daring life is presented in extensive detail while still making the film relevant, provocative, and accessible.” Directed by Stephen McCaskell; Featuring expert commentary and narration by Barry Cooper, R.C. Sproul, Stephen Nichols, Carl Trueman, Robert Kolb, Robert Godfrey, and Steven Lawson. You can order a DVD or view online here.

Martin Luther on Depression

Given his pastoral heart, he sought to bring spiritual counsel to struggling souls

9 – “Besides observing mental difficulties in others, Luther had a compelling reason to affirm their reality. Luther himself endured many instances of depression. He described the experience in varied terms: melancholy, heaviness, depression, dejection of spirit; downcast, sad, downhearted. He suffered in this area for much of his life and often revealed these struggles in his works. ”

Hard Lessons for Martin Luther

10 – Luther received his Doctor of Theology in October of 1512, but for all his accomplishments, certainty of salvation eluded his grasp. He confessed his sins as much as possible, even six hours at a time. Prayers were no help.  By teaching the Psalms, Luther saw Christ as judge but also his Savior. ~ from an article by David Huffstutler

11 – In a new Off-Broadway play – “Martin Luther On Trial” – Lucifer requests new proceedings against the Catholic monk turned Protestant reformer, with St. Peter acting as judge and Luther’s wife, former nun Katharina von Bora, as defense counsel.

12 – The documentary below is Rick Steves’ Luther and the Reformation. [56 minutes]

Martin Luther’s View on Violence

13The use of force is unnecessary and unfruitful for the successful expansion of God’s kingdom. “I can drive no man to heaven or beat him into it with a club.” So observed Luther on March 11th, 1522, in a sermon to Wittenberg parishioners.

Luther Didn’t Condone Violence, but Hurling Insults was OK

Destroying centuries of bad doctrine is hard work. But it was easy for Luther because he could tweet better than Trump and throw-down rap better than Emenim

13.5Distracting a Holy Roman Emperor or taking down the Pope is easy — once you learn the power of words. It’s important to note that in most cases Luther’s arguments were not ad hominem attacks, but were designed to wake people up — out of centuries of spiritual slumber, theological lethargy, and Biblical illiteracy. (See Luther insults for more great insults.) **

  • 14 – “You have the master-devil all right.”
  • 15 – “How far will you go, O devilish pride?”
  • 16 – “You are a bungling magpie, croaking loudly.”
  • 17 – “You should not write a book before you have heard an old sow fart; and then you should open your jaws with awe, saying, ‘Thank you, lovely nightingale, that is just the text for me!'”
  • 18 – “Even Lucifer was not guilty of so great a sacrilege in heaven, for he only presumed to be God’s equal.”
  • 19 – “You act and speak as a bride of the devil, expressing what the devil inspires. All blasphemous words of this kind are nothing but childish, mad, sacrilegious ideas, and lies which are not worthy of answer.”
  • 20 – “You roar as one possessed and full of devils.”
  • 21 – “Are you ignorant of what it means to be ignorant?”
  • 22 – “You gamble with God’s Word like a rogue.”
  • 23 – “In appearance and words you simulate modesty, but you are so swollen with haughtiness, arrogance, pride, malice, villainy, rashness, superciliousness, ignorance, and stupidity that there is nothing to surpass you.”
  • 24 – “You are the prostitute of heretics!”

25Luther believed he was using the rhetorical device of insults in service of the defense of pure doctrine and against tyranny and godlessness.  **

Did Martin Luther Change Everything?

26 – The Christian History Institute recently produced a three-hour documentary series called This Changed Everything. Narrated by British actor David Suchet, the program tells the dynamic story of the people, places, and events that shaped the Reformation. It features expert commentary from Dr. Michael Horton, Dr. Peter Lillback, Dr. Frank James, Bishop Robert Barron, and over twenty other scholars and clergy – from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. [ Order on DVD, or view online: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Get free access with Amazon Prime. Try it free for 30 days. ]

26.5 – In the video preview below, Bishop Robert Baron and Dr. Michael Horton briefly explain Catholic and Protestant views of justification and salvation.

27This Changed Everything celebrates the fruits of the Reformation while grappling with difficult questions about the legacy of division. Clearly, the medieval church was in dire need of reform, but could complete schism have been avoided? Why is the church divided into various denominations today, and what will God do next? How should we think about our divisions in light of Jesus’ passionate prayer that his followers be one?

Martin Luther on Prayer

28 – Prayer is a duty, and prayer is the hardest work of all. Luther said prayer is ‘A labour above all labours, since he who prays must wage a mighty warfare against the doubt and murmuring excited by the faintheartedness and unworthiness we feel within us.’

29 – Prayer: Often, Short, and Strong – Many thought that long prayers would get God’s attention and impress Him. Luther, however, would have none of that, and said: “Thus the saints in the Scriptures prayed, as Elijah, Elisha, David and others, with short, but strong and powerful words; as we see in the Psalms, in which there is hardly one that has a prayer of more than five or six verses. Therefore the old fathers have very properly said, there is no use in many long prayers, but they praise the short ejaculatory prayers, in which one lifts a sigh heavenward with a word or two; which one can do very often when he is reading, writing, or doing some other work.”

Martin Luther on the Christian Life

30 – What Luther’s Views On Grace And Law Can Teach Us Today – When Luther advised, ‘Sin boldly,’ what did he mean? “Luther saw that many who take Christian life seriously might tend to despair, because as Christians we become more acutely aware of how we rebel against the Lord on a regular basis. Luther says if you’ve sinned boldly, repent even more boldly. The blood of Christ is greater than any sin you may have committed. You’re not to worry and despair over your sins: Look toward the sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and repentance as the one who saves.”

31 – Here’s the trailer to Luther: the 2003 MGM Studios movie about Martin Luther, starring Joseph Fiennes as Luther. (Order the DVD here or watch online.)

 

The Importance of ‘Christ Alone’

32 – Christ alone is my righteousness and holiness. “No monk will ever persuade or mislead me by his hood, rosary, and this or that work and childish human notion.”

Martin Luther’s 7 Characteristics of the Church

Luther derived these seven points from the first table of the Ten Commandments

  • Preaching of the Word
  • Baptism
  • The Lord’s Supper
  • Discipline
  • Biblical Offices (Elders, Deacons)
  • Worship
  • Suffering

That’s 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 (if you are still counting).

Luther on Love and Marriage

40 – As if a romantic comedy, Luther cooked up a scheme to smuggle nuns out of a nunnery, in pickled herring barrels. “A wagon load of vestal virgins has just come to town,” said one of Luther’s students at the news.  Setting to work with his typical zeal, Luther soon had matches arranged for all but one of the runaway nuns — spunky twenty-six-year-old Katharina von Bora.

41 – “While I was thinking of other things,” wrote Luther, inviting a friend, “God has suddenly brought me to marriage with Katherine.” After a two-week betrothal! He wrote to Leonard Kopp, “I am going to get married. God likes to work miracles and to make a fool of the world. You must come to the wedding.”

42 – Luther called marriage the school of character.  It was to be a lifetime tutorial. “There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage,” he wrote. “One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before.” Martin and Katharina had 6 children together, in addition to raising 4 orphans.

43 – “First love is drunken”,  said Luther, “but when the intoxication wears off, then comes true marriage love.” If the Reformation was a revolution in theology — the recovery of the gospel was, after all, a recovery of true marriage love, Christ’s love for his bride the church.

44 – In 1538, Luther noted that wives were reduced to the status of servants by the unjust laws of the day, being turned out of the house upon their husbands’ deaths with little more than the clothes on their backs. When Luther wrote his will in 1542, he made good on earlier criticism of the law by purposefully flouting it and leaving everything he owned to his wife Katie.

45 – See the video excerpt below, from “This Changed Everything” – How the Reformation Changed Marriage.   [ Order on DVD, or view online: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Get free access with Amazon Prime. Try it free for 30 days. ]

Martin Luther and The 95 Thesis

Martin Luther Nailed It - 5 Solas (1517-2017)

Books About Martin Luther

Books About Martin Luther (for Children)

Books and Writings of Martin Luther

The English (American edition) of the Complete Works of Martin Luther comprise over 55 volumes, totaling 24,000+ pages.  [Available on CD-ROM] – The Weimar Edition contains 121 volumes. Bryce P. Wandry has compiled a chronological bibliography. A brief selection of his  writings is below:

Music of Martin Luther (CD and MP3 recordings)

Video Lessons About Martin Luther

Here’s a preview (part 1)  – of video series about Martin Luther. [ Get free access with Amazon Prime. Try it free for 30 days. ]

  • 82 – Luther and the Lightning Bolt –  In the first part of this series, R.C. Sproul introduces the man who challenged the status quo and sparked a flame of change that still burns today.
  • 83 – Monastery and Rome Crisis  – Luther’s struggle to reconcile his guilt with his understanding of the holiness of God.
  • 84 – Tower Experience – What Luther discovered as he studied the words of the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans.
  • 85- Building St. Peters – The church is comprised of sinful men and women. This reality was clearly seen in the sixteenth century.
  • 86 – Indulgence Controversy – R.C. Sproul discusses Tetzel’s marketing techniques and the watershed moment from which the rotestant Reformation would flow.
  • 87 – Progress to Worms – “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.”
  • That’s just a few links to get you started. [ Watch all 10 videos free online now with Amazon Prime. ( Free 30 day trial) ]

Other Important Lessons

A few links from the Aquila Report archives.

Martin Luther on God’s Law and Antinomianism

A couple more articles  from the Aquila Report archives.

Martin Luther’s Death and Legacy

94 – Luther preached his last sermon from his deathbed. The sermon consisted of simply quoting two texts, one from the Psalms and one from the Gospels. Luther cited Psalm 68:19, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.” Then he cited John 3:16. Our God is indeed a God of salvation, and that salvation comes through the work of His Son.

95 – In his last moments, Luther was asked by his friend Justus Jonas, “Do you want to die standing firm on Christ and the doctrine you have taught?” He answered emphatically, “Yes!” Luther’s last words were: “We are beggars. This is true.”

 

Footnote

** “Realizing the insults are extremely contextual, it must be recognized that all the insults have been taken out of context. Considering their original context, including the work in which they are found and the socio-political context of sixteenth century Germany where insulting was a norm, is vital for understanding both their meaning and Luther’s vehemence.” (See also Luther’s Insults Explained Again)

Doug Vos is the President and Publisher of The Aquila Report.

 


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