We take Luther
as the Representative of the true Protestant – a witness for the truth.
We note him especially as he stands before the Royal
and Ecclesiastical Representatives of ‘The Holy Roman Empire’ and cries out,
‘Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me, God!’
Luther, it can be truly said, was ‘great in life and
Luther’s conscience, as he inherited it from Adam, was
not the driving force in his personality but Luther’s conscience reborn and
sprinkled with the Saviour’s blood was the driving force within him.
Although he was naturally afraid, he was as strong as
a lion as he witnessed his good confession.
He stood up against the so-called Almighty Church and with immeasurable independence he
declared the sentence of God upon it.
He had a courage more than sublime and an independence
more than colossal.
You see, Luther was living up to his calling. He knew
his calling. The question of the difference between the Protestant and the
Romanist is on this nature of revelation. The Roman Catholic knows it only as
a system, the Protestant knows it as salvation.
There was a difference between Luther and Erasmus.
Erasmus was the champion of the new learning, the
Renaissance as it is called. His claim was for intellectual freedom, a new
culture with human reason, human thought, human beauty and human grace.
Luther was the champion of the new birth. He was not
reformed, he was regenerated. He did not have a toning up of his human life,
he had an impartation of divine life.
Luther was the champion of the Gospel. The Gospel had
made him what he was. He had been set free not from the load of the Church
but from the guilty load of his own sin. He had escaped the corruption, which
is in the world through lust. His was the simplicity of faith in Christ and
Luther had witnessed in his inmost soul the serenity
of the gospel. The gospel had gone down into his heart. It was dreadful. But
then came sweet grace, sweet pardon, sweet love, sweet blood, sweet cleansing
and sweet forgiveness.
He became a new man, a pardoned man, a justified man,
a saved man, and God’s man. His was trust. His was confidence. His was
life. His was power. His was deliverance. He was a Christ committed man.
Two fundamentals lay at the heart of Luther’s
OF THE WORD OF GOD
OF THE FAITH OF CHRIST
that the Word of God was the foundation of the Church.
His faith was not built on tradition, not upon Popes
and Bishops. It rested not on invention but rather on revelation.
The way was opened by God alone and only God could
keep it open, or keep it shut.
The foundation of the Church was the Gospel. The
Church is the fellowship of the gospel.
The Gospel of the Church is the Act of God. In Christ
reconciling the world unto Himself the gospel is the Work of God, the deed of
God. The gospel is God in Christ, God in His Cross and God in Redemption.
Only Christ could save. Only Christ the Saviour can save the sinner. The
preaching of the Cross is the power of God unto salvation to every one that
Luther knew the assurance of salvation. He knew that
it was to be able to:-
My fierce accuser face
And tell him Christ had died.
Luther gave back
to Christianity the preaching of the simple Gospel, the New Testament Gospel,
plain, simple and life imparting.
When we speak of Justification by faith alone we do
not speak of dry dogma but of thrilling everlasting life.
‘Justification is an act of God’s free grace wherein
He pardoneth all our sins and accepteth us as righteous in His sight only for
the righteousness of Christ imparted to us and received by grace alone’.
Luther believed in the Church as the edifice of Grace
alone. He believed in grace as the only Gospel, the Gospel of Christ who is in
Himself Grace and Truth.
Faith to Luther is direct contact with Christ
crucified, not as a condition of grace but as He Himself.
This is the true faith of Christ. It is not the faith
of the Church of Rome. It is not the faith of the sacraments.
Romanism is not the Gospel. The faith of the Son of
God is the gospel. To believe anything else or anyone else is to commit
Indifference to this is one of the ways to the death
which never dies.