He wasn't right about everything, but God used him mightily by helping him understand the centrality of the Gospel -- that the playing field is leveled. Every person has fallen short of God's standards, and that falling short is called sin. We aren't sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners (Matt Chandler). It separates us completely from God. But because God is good, kind, and merciful while at the same time being just and holy and completely sinless, he sent his son Jesus to obey him perfectly and to stand in our place as our substitute for what our sins deserve - God's just wrath. Jesus took it all; drank it to the dregs, and he died. God in human flesh died. To show God the Father was pleased and that what Jesus did was completely sufficient, He raised Jesus from the dead! He sealed the deal. Done. No more condemnation for all who will repent of their sins and turn to Christ as their Savior. Luther was stunned by God's grace through just having faith in this Gospel.
So, Luther got it. Good works, penance, indulgences, rituals -- all of it was empty; none of it saves anyone. Not even "good intentions" can save someone. Only grace from God by faith in Jesus can save anyone, and Luther knew that to be true after diving into God's Word. So, you know what he did? Total genius and probably a prodigy-- he translated the Bible into the vernacular, so the people could read it for themselves. While at the same time developing much of the German language. You know a big reason why I'm able to read my Bible today? Because Martin Luther did something that no one ever did. Amazing, amazing grace. God's Word will not return void and it cannot be snuffed out.
So, I've loved reading about this passionate, bold man of God who was moved and shaken by his conscience being captivated by God. In all this, do you know what strikes me just as much as the strides he made for believers theologically? Martin Luther as a husband and father. My favorite section of this chapter reads:
"The household they built together in the old cloister was a rollicking, rambunctious affair, filled over the years with three sons, two daughters, a pet dog, and innumerable visitors, relatives, and students. Luther had a bowling alley built in the garden for when he broke from his study or prayer (he would pray for at least three hours a day, working through Bible verses and bluntly holding out God's promises, demanding that he keep them). Katie [his wife] ran their sizable private brewery, selling some of the beer to help make ends meet and using the rest to lubricate all those theological discussions over mealtimes and into the evenings. That didn't stop her from occasionally unbraiding Martin for drinking too freely at such occasions, nor from feelings of annoyance when students spent mealtimes taking notes instead of eating."
And now my favorite part. The part that brought me to tears.
"Twice, however, tragedy struck: both daughters died young, one of them, Magdelene, in Martin's arms. He was overcome with tears and yet did his best to console the rest of the family with the hope of the gospel. 'She will rise again at the last day,' he declared over the coffin. It was said with a confidence he once would have considered a presumptuous sin."
Oh, that section touched my heart so deeply on so many different levels. Immediately, friends came to mind who have lost children in recent days and in the midst of the grief even in the thought, I also burst with joy that those friends will see their children at the last day. They will rise, in God's kindness and mercy.
And even in my own suffering this is of great comfort. Sweet friends have reminded me all week of very significant facts for Christians. Those who are in Christ will outlive suffering -- sickness, pain, disease, disappointment, loss, death. We will outlive it all because it has been ultimately paid for on the cross of Christ. Another amazing promise is that God promises not to waste our suffering. Suffering and trials are purposeful, not permanent and, as my pastor said in his recent series on James, a specially built platform for us to display that God is worth more than any of our set of circumstances.
"These inward trials I employ from self and pride to set thee free, and break thy schemes of earthly joy that thou may'st find thy all in me." John Newton's hymn I Asked The Lord