Welcome to my blog! I hope to be a resource to help you in your walk with God. Now more than ever we need to get back to the basic fundamentals of moral living and take a stand for what is right and truthful with God as our ultimate authority. His Word is reliable and preserved and can be trusted, so that is the basis for my advice and teaching. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or topics you would like me to cover. I look forward to sharing what God has placed on my heart. See my website at http://www.dawnfoss.tateauthor.com and http://www.dawnfoss.com/ for books and music I have written that will enrich your life!

Ezekiel 22:30: "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none." Let's stand in the gap together!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The holiness of God - #4 of 6

This one is not my favorite in the series, but is an interesting history lesson. It gives an example of someone who believed in the holiness of God, and was willing to die and to stand up against the religious leaders of his day to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As always, I recommend you watch the link, but I have also summarized it below if you prefer to read it.

#4 – The Insanity of Luther

In the 16th century, hot debates would go on in the world of religion.  Martin Luther was considered rude at times, and the Pope referred to him as a wild boar running around their vineyards.  It was thought he was a drunken German, and they believed he would change his mind about his 95 Theses after he sobered up.  Some in the 20th century thought perhaps he was a madman. Why? He engaged in theological debate in an unusual way, very crass at times.  He was intemperate in his speech and neurotic about his health (hypochondriac), had nervous anxiety and nervous stomach, had kidney stones, predicted his death 6 or 7 times thinking he was going to die with his stomach aches. He had many phobias.  He had such a fear of the wrath of God that early on in his ministry someone asked him if he loved God. He said “Love God? You ask me if I love God? Sometimes I hate God! I see Christ as a consuming judge who is simply looking at me to evaluate me and visit affliction upon me.”  

That hatred was related to his paralyzing fear he had about God. As a young man his dad wanted him to be a lawyer. When Luther was a law student he was a brilliant young mind, but in the midst of that experience he came home when a storm arose, and he was trapped in the road in a violent thunderstorm. A lightening bolt landed so close to his horse that he was thrown. Had a narrow escape from death, and promised to become a monk. Thought it was an omen and a call to the ministry, dropped out of law school and took training for ministry, not out of love for God but out of phobias. 

At last his first mass came, and Hans Luther (his dad) came.  Martin Luther was an outstanding scholar and speaker, so everyone was waiting in anticipation for the first mass.  They believed a miracle took place. During the prayer of consecration, they believed transubstantiation occurred. The appearance of bread and wine was the same, but they thought there was a substance change in these elements – changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ.  Luther made his prayer over these elements.  Everyone waited for Luther to say the words of consecration. This arrogant person capable of public speaking and well rehearsed suddenly froze, he trembled, his mouth opened and lips moved but no words came out. His dad was embarrassed. Not a mental lapse as was thought, but he began to contemplate that his sinful self could not hold in his sinful  hands the body and blood of Christ. So overcome with his unworthiness that he froze. 

Most indicate his insanity was the apparent commitment to meglamania (I'm not sure if I spelled that right): a person being willing to defy every authority structure in this world and stand utterly alone as a young priest against the pope, church, counsels, everyone.  Debated with many. Went to Diet of Worms.  He claimed the Pope is an adversary of Christ, and the vicar of Satan. Less than tactful and diplomatic.  Luther marched in to the Diet of Worms, and when asked if he would recant (deny) what he said about Christ and faith and his 95 Theses, he declared he would not recant Christ. Hollywood version was he came in boldly and loudly and said:  “Unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture or by evident reason I will not recant. For my conscience is held captive by the Word of God and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. God help me. I can do no other.”  That's not how it happened.  That moment in church history when asked: Will you recant? He said so quietly that no one heard him, and he was asked to answer a second time. He said, “could I have 24 hrs. to think it over?”  He didn’t know if he was right.  He was granted the additional time.  

He retired to his cell for private prayer and meditation and wrote a prayer that has survived to this day. A private Gethsemane. Here is a portion of his prayer: “Oh God, Almighty God everlasting, how dreadful is the world. Behold, how its mouth opens to swallow me up, and how small is my faith in Thee…if I had to depend upon any strength in this world, all is over….help me against all the wisdom of this world…for the work is not mine, but Thine. I have no business here, I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world. I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace, but the cause is yours, and it is righteous and everlasting, Oh Lord….I lean not upon man…dost thou not hear?...Thou hast chosen me for this work, I know it. Therefore, O God, accomplish thine own will and forsake me not, for the sake of thy will, beloved son Jesus Christ, my defense, my buckler, my stronghold…”  When Luther returned to the Diet of Worms the next day, they again said, “Brother Martin, will you now recant of these teachings?” Again he hesitated for a moment and he said, “unless I’m convinced by sacred scripture or by evident reason, don’t you see, I can’t recant.  My conscience is held captive by the word of God and to act against conscience is neither right nor safe.  Here I stand. I can’t do anything else.  God help me.” Meglomania? Visions of grandeur – maybe.  

Going back to the years on the monastery, the monks would give a daily confession. As a matter of routine the other brothers would do their confessional, but Martin Luther would spend 2 hours or 3 hours or 4 hours to confess sins in the past 24 hrs.  The superiors in the monastery told him to stop. They were small little sins, and they wondered if he just liked to spend time in the confessional, trying to get out of doing other things. But they realized he was earnest about this. Would come out and hear the words of the priest say “your sins are forgiven”, and would feel lighthearted and joyful until he remembered something he forgot to confess. Guilt affliction. 

There is a thin line between insanity and genius. Psychiatrists overlook that before he studied theology he was a brilliant student of the law. He applied that training to the law of God, and analyzed himself to the holy law of God and couldn’t stand the results. The character and righteousness of God was so holy, and he saw he was so awful, so he started to hate the idea of the righteousness of God.  He was a doctor of theology, and as he read Romans 1 he noted, “for the righteousness of God is revealed by faith…and the just shall live by faith.”  Suddenly the concept burst upon his mind that it was discussing the righteousness of God that God provides for you and for me graciously, freely to anyone who puts their trust in Christ receives the covering and cloak of the righteousness of Christ. He realized for the first time that his justification is established not based on his own naked righteousness which will always fall short of the demands of God but rests solely and completely on the righteousness of Christ.  He finally understood the gospel. 

To popes and counsels and diets and kings he declared that the just shall live by faith alone, God is holy and I am not.  Not negotiable – it’s the gospel. If that’s crazy, then we need an army of "insane" people like that to go into this world that the gospel may not be eclipsed, that we may understand that in the presence of a holy God, that we can be justified who are unjust. God offered us the holiness of his son as a covering of our sin, so we will not perish but have everlasting life if we believe in Jesus Christ.  For this Luther was willing to die.

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