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Martin Luther/Reformation Day - Romans 1:16-17

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  • Martin Luther/Reformation Day - Romans 1:16-17

    Romans 1:16-17
    • 16 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.
    • 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[e] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

    Since this is the 499th Anniversary of the Reformation I thought it might be interesting to look at Romans 1:16-17 through the eyes of Luther. My main reason for coming to this Scripture was the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith. What's so important about the doctrine of justification by faith alone? So what was it that Martin Luther believed before coming to this conclusion? And how in the world did he not see it for soooo long? I know we take it for granted, but remember, so many of Christiandom never saw it either, why?

    Happy Reformation Day!

    God bless,
    William

  • #2
    I have a few comments about this.

    First of all, Scriptural ignorance.

    While I know that every Roman Catholic apologist will jump up and down in protest that the Church read the scriptures during the Medieval era, I believe that while scripture was read in churches every mass, far too often it fell of deaf ears, as Latin was not the language of the people. Likewise, to disagree with the hierarchy on doctrine- scriptural or not- was often punishable by death. So scriptural ignorance certainly is the fertile soil of heresy. Certainly there were scholars who knew the scriptures and kept the faith alive in those times, but sheer numbers against them brought the church to needing a reform and return to paleo-orthodoxy. There's a lot more on this point we could add.

    Secondly, the marriage of Church and State. Never works. For a person to become a bishop or Pope in the church most often one had to have the right political connections and pedigree, and even money. Knowledge of Christian doctrine was sometimes not even a factor. This clearly is the worldly way of seeking power and not way of the ministry of Christ. This not only contributes to ignorance of the scriptures, it compiles it. If your local archbishop got his title when he was a teenager by way of a generous "gift" to the church (it happened) and not after decades of study of the word and service to God's people, then it should be no wonder that all those appointed under him to positions within the church are clueless political animals and not preachers of the Gospel. Where there is no word, there is no life.

    It is no coincidence that the true Reformers of the Church were all humble clerics and scholars.

    There were people who understood justification before the Reformation, but they were hidden and burdened under a pile of politics, the love of money, false doctrines, false traditions and under threat of death if they made too big a deal out of it.
    Comment>

    • #3
      Regarding Luther's commentary on Rom. 1:16-17, one should tackle his Preface to his commentary on Romans first: Romans 1 - Martin Luther’s Bible Commentary - Bible Commentary

      This will give the background to his specific comments on those verses. It's a classic read.
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by RevT View Post
        I have a few comments about this.

        First of all, Scriptural ignorance.

        While I know that every Roman Catholic apologist will jump up and down in protest that the Church read the scriptures during the Medieval era, I believe that while scripture was read in churches every mass, far too often it fell of deaf ears, as Latin was not the language of the people. Likewise, to disagree with the hierarchy on doctrine- scriptural or not- was often punishable by death. So scriptural ignorance certainly is the fertile soil of heresy. Certainly there were scholars who knew the scriptures and kept the faith alive in those times, but sheer numbers against them brought the church to needing a reform and return to paleo-orthodoxy. There's a lot more on this point we could add.

        Secondly, the marriage of Church and State. Never works. For a person to become a bishop or Pope in the church most often one had to have the right political connections and pedigree, and even money. Knowledge of Christian doctrine was sometimes not even a factor. This clearly is the worldly way of seeking power and not way of the ministry of Christ. This not only contributes to ignorance of the scriptures, it compiles it. If your local archbishop got his title when he was a teenager by way of a generous "gift" to the church (it happened) and not after decades of study of the word and service to God's people, then it should be no wonder that all those appointed under him to positions within the church are clueless political animals and not preachers of the Gospel. Where there is no word, there is no life.

        It is no coincidence that the true Reformers of the Church were all humble clerics and scholars.

        There were people who understood justification before the Reformation, but they were hidden and burdened under a pile of politics, the love of money, false doctrines, false traditions and under threat of death if they made too big a deal out of it.
        Awesome response RevT! I was astonished the first time I found out that "sermons" were usually in Latin, and that the common layman were unawares as to what was being preached. With no available translations, and a sermon in a different tongue, the avg layman was completely ignorant of God's word or the principle of Sola Scriptura. It is no wonder that people were taken advantage of and that indulgences were pushed upon the layman.

        Anyways, not to go off long on the subject, especially to a Lutheran! Here's an interesting clip I found today that supports what you shared.

        Prior to the Reformation, papal authority, ritualistic ceremonies and relics had replaced the preaching of the Bible. The preaching of this era was often a short talk or homily that was largely based on stories rather than a clear exposition of God’s Word. Often these talks were in Latin, a language that the people didn’t speak or understand.

        During the Reformation period, the preachers were standing boldly and proclaiming God’s Word. They were spending many hours translating it into the common language of the people. Luther spent time translating the Bible, writing, and preaching. This was the same pattern of William Tyndale and others such as John Rogers who worked under a false name – Thomas Matthew. These men labored in their translation and preaching. Their work was risky. It often didn’t end well. Tyndale was burned at the stake (1536) and John Rogers would soon follow him in (1555).

        Although men like Luther and Calvin often had a similar purpose, they were profoundly different in their styles. Tyndale and Rogers were alike in many ways, but also different. The central element of common ground in the Reformation was a love for God’s Word. They were willing to risk it all for the sake of getting the Word to the people. Source: Reformation Preaching
        God bless,
        William
        Comment>

        • #5
          The Bible says that Satan blinds the unsaved to the truth of the gospel. The posts above point out that in Martin Luther's time people didn't have the Bible in their own language. I have never had that problem but I for a long time I didn't understand justification by faith either. I read the commands God gave as to how Christians are to live and interpreted them to mean that we needed to live that way in order to earn our salvation.
          Clyde Herrin's Blog
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