Luther, Christian life, and the Word of God

On Christian Liberty - Martin Luther

I’ve started reading On Christian Liberty by Martin Luther in preparation for a class by Dr. Dan Siedell I’m auditing at Knox Seminary in March … God at Work: The Reformation & Vocation. I’m finding it hard to get past the first few pages because they are so rich, specifically as Luther talks about the inner and outer man (soul and flesh) and states, concerning the inner man, that “no external thing has any influence in producing Christian righteousness or freedom, or in producing unrighteousness or servitude.” He gives argument to prove this and concludes:

One thing, and only one thing, is necessary for Christian life, righteousness, and freedom. That one thing is the most holy Word of God, the gospel of Christ, as Christ says, John 11[:25], “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” …

Working at OneHope, a ministry whose mission is to reach children and youth with the Word of God, I was both encouraged and challenged by these words of Luther:

Let us then consider it certain and firmly established that the soul can do without anything except the Word of God and that where the Word of God is missing there is no help at all for the soul. If it has the Word of God it is rich and lacks nothing since it is the Word of life, truth, light, peace, righteousness, salvation, joy, liberty, wisdom, power, grace, glory, and of every incalculable blessing. This is why the prophet in the entire Psalm [119] and in many other places yearns and sighs for the Word of God and uses so many names to describe it.

On the other hand, there is no more terrible disaster with which the wrath of God can afflict men than a famine of the hearing of his Word, as he says in Amos [8:11]. Likewise there is no greater mercy than when he sends forth his Word, as we read in Psalm 107[:20]: “He sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction.”

Luther describes the Word of God, drawing from Romans 1, as this:

The Word is the gospel of God concerning his Son, who was made flesh, suffered, rose from the dead, and was glorified through the Spirit who sanctifies. To preach Christ means to feed the soul, make it righteous, set it free, and save it, provided it believes the preaching. Faith alone is the saving and efficacious use of the Word of God … The Word of God cannot be received and cherished by any works whatever but only by faith.

Plenty of meat to ponder there, and that’s only a small portion from the first eight pages.:)

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