Monday, July 16, 2012

Luther Insisted On Very Little...

Excerpt taken from Lutheran Theology by Steven D. Paulson

Luther insisted on very little but this one point, that God's justice was faith - alone - unaccompanied by any works of law. Consequently he administered forgiveness of sins to actual sinners by preaching it openly, publicly and beyond the law's limit.  He then urged the keys of the kingdom to be used liberally throughout the land by preachers in their own places of calling, dispensing a promise from Christ to a sinner that provided the absolute assurance of faith.  Preaching was the "means" of the Reformation cause, and could be started immediately, with great freeing effect, anywhere a preacher dared.  Overnight a priest could become a Lutheran preacher, and a congregation become a new, evangelical church wherever this freedom was exercised.  It was not just that people suddenly began to hear preaching, but the preaching was 'evangelical' because it identified the law's judgement of death as complete, and yet the promise of Christ as victorious over the law's judgement of death.  It centered preaching on two words that were normally controlled by a sacramental system with the law at its heart: 'Te absolvo' (I Forgive You).  

What havoc those simple words created!  Dispensing promises required only a call, the Scripture, and boldness to open heaven's gates by using the office of the keys for the ungodly, unjust sinners who abounded wherever the preacher went.  Sometimes, with one lecture or disputation, Luther would inspire an evangelical preacher who would then refuse to go back to the old priest-hood - even upon pain of death.  Freedom was in the air, and went directly from the ear to the heart so liberty was immediately at hand for many who sought to lose some shackle.  Luther taught and demonstrated that these simple words give absolute, indubitable certainty, and no one is more dangerous than a person who is certain.  The certainty was not based on human self-certainty; it was the opposite of that.  It was the certainty of forgiveness because of what the Son of God did by taking the sins of the world upon himself and defeating them at the cross.  The decisive cosmic battle of God against sin, death and the devil was already waged and won when Christ was raised from the dead to make a new kingdom of people who live with no law, nowhere to go, and nothing to accomplish.  They simply were - free.

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