Church History II - Lesson 4

Reformation and Theology of Martin Luther

In this lesson, you will gain a deep understanding of Martin Luther's life, spiritual journey, and his key theological contributions that shaped the Protestant Reformation. You will explore the background and context of his early life and education, his experiences in monastic life, and how his study of Scriptures led to his theology of justification by faith and the theology of the cross. You will also learn about the circumstances that led to the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses, the spread of Reformation ideas, and Luther's key theological concepts, such as Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, and the priesthood of all believers. Lastly, you will examine the later years of Luther's life.


Gerald Bray
Church History II
Lesson 4
Watching Now
Reformation and Theology of Martin Luther

CH503-04: Reformation and Theology of Martin Luther

I. Martin Luther's Early Life and Education

A. Background and Context

B. University Education

II. Luther's Spiritual Journey

A. Monastic Life

B. Study of Scriptures and Theology

1. Romans and Justification by Faith

2. Theology of the Cross

III. The Ninety-Five Theses and Reformation

A. Indulgences Controversy

B. The Ninety-Five Theses

C. Spread of Reformation Ideas

IV. Key Theological Contributions of Martin Luther

A. Sola Scriptura

B. Sola Fide

C. Sola Gratia

D. The Priesthood of All Believers

V. Luther's Later Life and Legacy

A. Conflicts and Controversies

B. Family Life and Death

C. Impact on Church History and Theology

  • You'll uncover the historical context, key figures, and theological developments of the Reformation, along with its lasting impact on church, society, and modern Christianity.
  • The crusades, and John Wycliffe's challenge of the church’s authority happened before the Reformation.
  • This lesson covers the Renaissance period and the life and beliefs of Martin Luther.

  • This lesson provides a comprehensive understanding of the history of the Protestant Reformation and the theology of Martin Luther. You will gain knowledge of Luther's theological beliefs, including justification by faith alone, as well as the major events of the Reformation and the influence of the printing press on spreading Protestant ideas.
  • This lesson explores the success of the Reformation in spreading to other parts of Europe beyond Germany in the late 16th to 17th centuries. It discusses the factors that contributed to this success, including the printing press, vernacular languages, and secular ruler support. Additionally, the transcript examines the impact of different reform movements on society and culture, such as the Calvinist and Anabaptist movements.
  • You will gain insight into the spread of the Reformation across Europe and beyond, covering its origins, impact in Germany, expansion into Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and the Catholic response through the Council of Trent and establishment of the Jesuits.
  • By exploring this lesson, you will gain insights into the historical relationship between the Church and State, from early Christianity to modern times. You will also gain an understanding of the specific relationship between the Church and State in America, particularly with regard to the First Amendment. Additionally, you will learn about current debates around the separation of Church and State and how the Church should engage with political power.
  • In this lesson, you will learn about how the English Reformation was initiated by King Henry VIII's desire to annul his marriage, leading to the breakaway from the Roman Catholic Church and the establishment of the Church of England, which went back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism until Queen Elizabeth I established it as a Protestant church.
  • In this lesson, you will learn about the life and reign of King Henry VIII and the key events and people that shaped the English Reformation, including his opposition to the Protestant Reformation, his desire for a male heir, and his establishment of the Church of England, which had far-reaching consequences for England and the Church as a whole.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of King Henry VIII's reign, including his relationships with his wives, his role as head of the English church, and his impact on the Reformation in England, as well as the political and religious agendas he pursued during his final years, and his legacy and impact on the Anglican Church.
  • The English Reformation, which took place during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, was a significant period in English history that resulted in the establishment of the Church of England and the break from the Roman Catholic Church. This class lecture explores the political, social, and religious factors that contributed to the English Reformation, as well as the theological developments that occurred during this period. It also examines the wider impact of the English Reformation on the Reformation movement in Europe and the subsequent development of Protestantism in England.
  • Gain insight into the intricate history of 16th-century Catholicism and British Protestantism, exploring key events, figures, and their impact on the religious landscape.
  • Explore the 16th-century Reformation in Europe and Britain, analyzing key figures, theological disputes, and the impact on religious landscape.
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the Reformation in the Lowlands, its historical context, key figures, movements, and its impact on religious and political landscapes.
  • In this lesson, you gain a deep understanding of the Reformation in Great Britain under Elizabeth I, focusing on key figures, religious struggles, and the lasting impact on modern-day Britain.
  • Explore the intricate history of the Protestant Church in England under Elizabeth I, delving into key figures, events, and theological shifts that shaped its religious landscape.
  • In this lesson, you explore the development of the Protestant Church in England under King James, gaining insight into its history, key figures, and the influence of theological movements on its growth.
  • By studying this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the Protestant Church in England under Cromwell, its theological developments, and the lasting impact of this period on the church's history.
  • Gain deep insights into the late 17th-century Protestant Church in England, its key events, influential religious groups, and major figures, as you explore the complex interplay of religious, political, and social forces shaping its development.
  • By analyzing the Age of Reason's influence on Church History, you gain knowledge of the interplay between faith, reason, and scientific inquiry that reshaped religious beliefs and institutions during this pivotal era.
  • Gain a thorough grasp of church history from 1500-2000, exploring key events, figures, and theological developments that have shaped Christianity's growth and evolution.

The life and thought of the Christian church from the Reformation to modern times. Designed as an orientation to the shape of the whole tradition with special focus on the history of Christian doctrine and spirituality.

If you would like to help the ministry of BiblicalTraining, we would appreciate a short title and description of each lecture so that our table of contents could be more informative. If you would be willing to provide class outlines, please contact us at ed@biblicaltraining.org.

Our father, bless us we pray this day as we come into your presence. Help us to be truly thankful for the many things that you give us. But above all, for this time to work and to study together. And then the things that we do this day, we pray that you would open our hearts and minds, that we might learn to your glory and that we might put into practice the things which we take away from this class so that we might truly become more like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For his precious namesake, we ask it. Right. Okay. I was talking the other day about Luther. Martin Luther. And, yeah, was trying to get across the point that Luther had really no idea that there was going to be the kind of reaction that there was to his protest against the sale of indulgences. I mean, he certainly was not trying to start any kind of major rebellion. And as things sort of snowballed and developed and grew, he really had to, you know, take a deep breath and go from one stage to the next, trying to figure out as much as the next person what was really going on. And for a couple of years through 15, 18, 15, 19, that sort of time, he spent his time debating with different people about the rights and wrongs of his different positions. And in the process, of course, developing his own theology, for example, it was probably not until about 1519 that Luther came to the position of Sola Scriptura that Scripture alone is to be the source of the teaching and doctrine of the Christian church.

Now, you may say, Well, why did it take him that long and why didn't he realize that? And so on? Well, I suppose partly because he hadn't really thought about that, that I mean, he thought about, you know, the the rights and wrongs of indulgences and that you can't sort of by the grace of God and this kind of things, he realized that. But working back to first principles to sort of where do you get this idea from? Why is it the way it is? And so on? Takes a while, you see. And it's only as things were kind of debated that Luther realized that this is what his position was going to be. Now, it's important for modern Protestants to understand that when Luther adopted this Sola Scriptura position, he did not mean by it what most people today mean by it. And this is a confusion you see that we have because today I mean, most people, when they talk about the scriptures alone, tend to imagine that this means that every aspect of Christian doctrine, teaching, etc. can be found in the Bible if it can't be found in the Bible. It's it doesn't matter. It's got nothing to do with Christian faith or whatever. And so, you know, exclude it. And they try to build their faith, the church order and everything else on the basis of what the Bible teaches. And you sort of build up from there. You know, that's the way most people today think when they say this. This is not the way that Luther thought. And as far as Luther was concerned, in this sort of world, there were different sources of authority. There was scripture, of course, which was the supreme source of authority. Nobody ever questioned that.

And then there was the tradition of the church, which had a very specific meaning as far as Luther was concerned. And again, it is not the meaning that we would associate with this word today as far as Luther was concerned. Church tradition meant the decrees of the popes and church councils and so on. Which had been selected for inclusion in the canon law of the church. The Canon law is the church's law, and it was contained in a body of literature called the Corpus Juris Canon UK. The body of Canon law, which was the first part of it, was put together about the year 1140 by a man called Gratian Graziano in Italy in Bologna. He was, and the remaining parts were added later. And the most recent, you know, the newest bits really dating from the 15th century. It came it came to its final form, if you like, only well, in Luther's lifetime, in 1500, when there was an edition of it published in Paris. And that edition remains the basis of this to the present time. You can still buy it, as you know, copies of it and so on it. It's around. So that is what Luther meant because his opponents who would argue for indulgences or, you know, for the celibacy of the clergy or whatever it was they were arguing in favor of, would argue not from the top of their head nor from their favorite theologian, but from this from this body of canon law, of church law, which they regarded as on a par with Scripture as far as the authority of the church was concerned. Now you say, well, you know, what's the basis for that? Why did they think that? And how could they get away with it? The Canon law was understood as filling in the parts that Scripture doesn't talk about.

In other words, it was not understood as overruling what Scripture actually said. But rather as providing information about things which are not in the Bible. For example, can a slave be ordained? Well, you won't find that in the Bible. See, it's not clearly stated, but it mattered to a lot of people because you could hardly, let's say a slave felt called to the ministry or whatever and managed to get himself ordained, and he could hardly then go on being a slave. You know, unlike modern ministers who are slaves to their deacons and what have you, I mean, you know, slavery was not a. Well, it's true, isn't it? It's a wage slaves today. But you see, you couldn't do this. So somebody had to sort out the rules and regulations governing this kind of thing. And this is what the Canon law is all about. You know, questions like, can you know, can you marry a Jew? Can you? What happens if you do and you know somebody who's not a Christian? And what about the children and all this kind of business you say is decided by by the canon law. And it was this that Luther opposed because Luther would say, well, you are appealing to traditions of men, you know, which say, for example, that no ordained person can get married, you know. Well, that was a rule which was brought in at a council in Rome, held in Rome, the first Lateran Council in 1123. It's not in the Bible. And see, although it claims a certain amount of biblical basis because of what the Apostle Paul had to say about celibacy. So it has a certain biblical basis to it. But still, it's not in the scriptures as such. And so Luther said, Well, you cannot make it authoritative for Christians today.

You see, you are you are imposing something on the church, which is not part of it, not part of divine revelation. It's not been given by God. To which, of course, the reply was, Well, that's all very well, but you know, what are you going to do? You've got to have some you've got to have some answer to these questions. You can't just sort of leave it hanging in the air. Somebody has got to make a decision. You know, and you've got to go one way or the other. And who is going to do that? Now, Luther agreed with that. You know, he wasn't trying to overturn the system just for the sake of overturning the system. Nor did he pretend that the Bible had the answer to every question. What he was concerned about mainly, was that people were either making too much of the canon law, claiming that it had a divine authority, which it quite clearly did not, or they were using it to interpret Scripture in such a way as to give sort of importance to maybe only one thing. I mean, the celibacy thing is a good example of this, you know, taking something which. All right. Yes, it can be found in the scriptures. I mean, it's not entirely foreign to the New Testament as an idea, but it's not the whole story. You know, and so you're taking one little thing and you're making it into a rule for everybody in all times, in all places, and ignoring other things that the scriptures say. So this was his his problem with this. And it's important that we understand this because in his wake, I mean, after Luther started his by the start of the Reformation, after the Reformation began, there were other people who were much more radical than he was on this point, and he turned against them.

I mean, Luther did not agree, you see, with tearing down everything that the old system had represented and starting again, he was not what we would today call a restoration estate. What he wanted was to purify the existing system, not start a new one. You see, that's a a very important difference, which we will see working itself out as time goes on. All right. Well, the immediate problem, of course, was felt in Rome, in the place where problems are usually felt. And that was in the pocket, because one thing that Luther had certainly done, whether you like it or not, is that he had effectively put a stop to the sale of indulgences in Germany. I mean, the whole campaign collapsed once Luther started his protest. And this very much angered the authorities in Rome because, of course, they weren't too bothered about the theology. They were more interested in the cash. You know, I mean, like most churches and well, really, you know, you can argue about theology, but, you know, as long as you pay your tithe, I mean, that's the main thing, isn't it? So when the money stopped flowing, this is when trouble began. And, of course, the pope realized that something would have to be done. And so eventually he sort of got together, figured out what Luther was trying to say and all the rest of it and excommunicated him. That was in 1520. It took a little while, as I say, for that to happen. But Luther was excommunicated and he was then obliged to appear before the what the what was known as the Imperial Diet. And I will explain in a minute what that is to explain himself, because an excommunicated person, of course, especially if he was excommunicated for heresy and the heresy was denying the authority of the pope, would have a not very pleasant fate awaiting him.

And the question of whether he should be turned over to the church authorities for or whether the secular authorities should carry out the the command of the church, that this man should be burned at the stake. This had to be decided. Now, Luther. As I say, had a lot of support. He had a lot of support from local German princes who just did not want to see their money being creamed off to Rome in this sort of way. You know, and he had a lot of support in the academic community because all across Europe, in the universities, there were plenty of people who realized that the system was corrupt, that something had to be done about it. And they, you know, they thought the loser was sort of standing up for a good cause and they were all for it. I mean, they might not have read very deeply into Luther's theology, but certainly, you know, they thought he was a good man doing the right thing. And so there was a good deal more popular support for him, or at least support in places where it mattered rather than popular. I wouldn't say it was an out on the street type of support for him, you know, than one might imagine. However, in 1521, Luther had to go to the city of shops of worms, as we tend to pronounce it, which is on the Rhine. It's here. It's around here someplace. And there it is in western Germany, where the German parliament, which was called the diet, was meeting the word diet. And today's very interesting word, it comes in the Latin form is datas, and it comes from the word das meaning day. And when it was, I suppose because it met on a daily basis, I'm not really quite sure why the name why that name was chosen.

But when they translated it into German they took the word de, so they translated it as tag and you end up with Reichstag, which is just imperial diet in German, you know, the Reichstag and the burning of the Reichstag by Hitler and all that you remember. And of course, now in modern Germany, they have the Bundestag, the federal diet. But that's where the word comes from. So peculiar kind of origin. Anyhow, this was an assembly of the different princes of Germany who were arranged in a kind of hierarchical order. And at the top, the top layer, there were seven main princes of Germany, whom we call the electors. This is because it was their responsibility to elect the emperor not of Germany as such, but of the whole what is called the Holy Roman Empire, which covered all of what is now Germany, plus Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of eastern France, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic. Here a good deal of what is now Poland, most of northern Italy as well. I mean, it covered basically a huge bloc of central Europe. Now, the office of Emperor was elected. This is very important point. It was not hereditary, but as is the way of these things. As time went on, it became hereditary. In fact, although never in theory. You see, every time an emperor died, a new elector would have to be chosen. But the tendency was to choose the son of the previous one. And from the middle of the 15th century or so, we can say that the emperors were almost always chosen from the family of Hapsburg, which was based in what is now Austria with their center at Vienna. And although there were one or two exceptions in the course of history for various odd reasons, you can say that basically speaking the Holy Roman emperors right down until the final dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, which was in 1806 when Napoleon more or less told it to pack up and go away.

That at that point, up until then, it was mainly always the Hapsburg ruler in Vienna who was the Holy Roman Emperor. As I say, there were one or two exceptions, but we don't need to worry too much about that right now. Anyhow, in 1519, just as Luther was at the height of his propaganda war against the indulgences, there was an election held for the Emperor because the old emperor had died and the choice fell on the Hapsburg heir. Who was this man I mentioned the other day? Charles the fifth, who was also, by default, king of Spain at the same time. This suddenly made Charles the most powerful man in the world because he basically ruled the whole of Western Europe, except for France and well, and Britain, of course, we don't count that. But I mean, of continental Europe, he ruled virtually everything except France and Portugal. He didn't rule Portugal either. But I mean, the rest, I mean, basically was one way or another in his control. Now, he was 19 years old at that time. You know, not a very helpful age if you want to try to tell somebody something, as you know. And so it was a bit difficult. This was his first in 1521 when he went to violence was, I believe, his first diet. So he was 21 years old, you know, at that time. And here he was having to confront a mad monk, which is basically I mean, you know, Charles the fifth looked on Luther, rather, the way you and I would look at the Unabomber or David Koresh or, you know, somebody like that. I mean, you might think that they were rather zealous in a cause that you just don't understand. You see what I mean? I mean, there's complete lack of and I mean, Charles would have no idea what this man was on about.

And, you know, as far as he was concerned, he was just some filthy monkey, you know, turned up in this weird looking habit and, you know, was sort of ranting and raving about something nobody really cared about. I mean, that was his way of thinking. Now, that in itself might not have mattered very much, except that Charles needed desperately to keep Germany together. Why? Because the enemy number one who at this point were rapidly moving west, they hadn't yet got into Hungary. But in 1526, I mean, only five years later, they defeated Hungary and overran it. And in 1529, they were besieging the gates of Vienna, which was his capital city. I mean, we must never forget this. So priority number one for Charles was make sure that Germany is united in the fight against the Turks. I mean, this is the way he saw it. You say that you have to keep together because this is the this is the first priority. Well, of course, from this point of view, Luther, going on about indulgences was a terrible nuisance because Luther was dividing Germany just at the point when this was not required. You see what I mean? I mean, something else was very much more desirable at this particular time. And so what you have here are two ships passing in the night, really, I mean, two completely different ways of thinking, which the don't so much clash as pass each other by. I mean, one does not understand the other. And Charles was not not interested in persecuting Luther for heresy. He was not that type of person. He knew that the church was corrupt and he wanted to reform it. He was quite happy about that. I mean, telling the pope where to get off was not, you know, something that Charles was unwilling to consider and so on.

But he felt that the whole thing could be solved, you know, by. A council by discussion, by debate and organization. The main thing was calm down. Carry on as normal for now and we'll sort it out in due course. Luther, of course, was on a different planet by this time altogether. I mean, as far as he was concerned, this was vitally important. It would not wait and God would preserve them from the attacks. The main thing was to make sure that you had the right understanding of salvation, because that's the key to everything else. Now. Luther had sent his 95 theses or they had been sent for him. I can never remember quite what happened, who actually sent them, but they were sent to Paris, to the Sorbonne, which is the University of Paris. The theological faculty of the University of Paris, as it was at that time. What in that were you? Yes, I did. Yeah. Not at the same time, though. The Sorbonne, the University of Paris, was the main university in Europe at that time, and indeed had been for centuries. Thomas Aquinas, the great systematic theologian of the 13th century, had been a professor there, for example. It was there that the Corpus Europe's canon was published. Because it was theologians at the Sorbonne who basically put it together. It was that they were desperately trying to get Erasmus onto the faculty and out of it to come and teach because they wanted his prestige and so on. And Erasmus was a little bit too wily for them and never actually made it. I think he went and gave a few guest lectures, but he knew perfectly well that once he got to Paris, he'd never get away. They wouldn't let him go and so on.

So he was a little bit more cautious than that. But nevertheless, the importance of Paris as an intellectual, but above all as a theological center should not be underestimated. I mean, to give you about one example, when Henry, the eighth of England, finally decided to allow the publication of an English language Bible, they sent it to Paris for the typesetting to be done and for the printing to be done because Paris was the place you went for that kind of thing. Now, in England today, of course, suggesting anything like that would cause national revolt. I'm sure you know, you know, you don't send away you sent to Paris for some things, but certainly not to get Bibles printed in and no one would imagine doing that. Whereas, I mean, this was this was quite acceptable at that time, you know, And it shows the kind of prestige that Paris had learning how Luther's theses went to the Sorbonne for judgment, because it was thought, well, if the Sorbonne says, you know, there's something in this, you know, Luther is right, this will be a great coup for him. If the Sorbonne says Luther is wrong. Well, then, of course, you know, he runs the risk of losing the support of the academic establishment. Well, the Sorbonne. The Sorbonne in this particular case came down against Luther, but not so much against Luther as to finally close the door to his cause. I mean, they recognized that Luther had things to say that were important and needed to be discussed, even if they felt that, you know, in different ways he gone too far and expressed himself badly and all the rest of it. Nevertheless, you know, something here needed to be needed to be considered.

And this kept the door open for further discussion and so on, which in the circumstances was probably the best that Luther could have hoped for, because, you know, if he'd been outright condemned, things might have been very different. But he wasn't enough. Was left hanging in the air that Luther was actually let off when he went to the Diet of Worms in 1521. I mean, clearly he wasn't approved of. But on the other hand, you know, he wasn't sort of arrested and burnt on the spot either. You know, things was kind of left a little bit hanging. And it was hoped hoped that although people felt Luther was wrong, they didn't want to condemn him so severely that, you know, there would be no further discussion possible. So anyhow, Luther was actually allowed to leave jobs after the the diet was over, after he'd made his protests and so on, presented his case. But on the way back home, as you know, he was kidnaped and imprisoned in a castle in central Germany called the burg. German is a rather unfortunate language from the English point of view, because on the one hand you have a diet of worms which is hardly very nutritious, and then you sort of have a castle full of warts, which doesn't go down too well either. But those of you who specialize in cores from Eastern Europe will know all about the VAT book because you can't buy Eastern European. You could never buy them in the United States, could you? So you never had the privilege of driving a ladder or anything like that, A ladder or a Skoda or what? Or the world. Yeah, that's right. You know, rather. Well, yes, but I mean, you know, the thing is, the United States is the country where they should have ladders ladder.

Really? I'll tell you why. No, no, no. The reason is because of the absurd speed limits that you have. Because you see, a ladder can only go about 60 miles an hour top speed, and no one would ever get a ticket. You see, if you were driving ladders around, what's the point of building all these sort of high flying, sort of 150 mile an hour type cars and then slapping 25 mile speed limits on everybody all over the place? I mean, it's crazy, you know? Yeah, right. I mean, it doesn't. It is. You see what I mean? It's not right. So if you had this Soviet type car, as you say, it would be fine because you couldn't go any faster. Well, anyway, the that book was one of them. I mean, it was an East German car, you know, but you probably wouldn't have seen it. So that's a pity. But anyhow, so you'll have to stick with the idea that it was a castle where Luther was imprisoned, which it also was, of course. And really the imprisonment of Luther was the best thing that ever happened to him for several reasons. One, because it was one way of making sure that he wasn't killed, you know, by people who just felt that that would be a good idea. I mean, there were plenty of people in Germany who wanted it, who had no understanding whatsoever of his theology and really couldn't care less. All they saw was a troublemaker. And they felt that, you know, the world would be a better place if he were got rid of. And so somebody taking a pot shot, you know, at Luther was but was a real possibility. And his friends knew this and it was his friends who kidnaped him and put him in the castle.

And he just disappeared for a couple of years. And so that was it kept him from being assassinated, which was a good thing, or at least. Well, if you're a Protestant, you think it's a good thing, you know, for that period of time. So that was fine. It also gave him time to think, because one of the big problems with Luther is that he didn't have a lot of time to think and it wasn't his fault, poor man. But, you know, there was always one thing happening after another and he'd have to dash off some kind of reply. And this is a very difficult thing to do, you know, just to suddenly stop and think, well, you know, what do I think about this or that or the other? It's not easy. So he had this time in the of these three years, like Paul in Arabia, you know, in the desert, to get his theology together, to sit down and think through what he was actually doing. And it was during this time that he translated the Bible or most of it. He didn't finish in the right book, but he he spent his time translating the Bible. And of course, it was Luther's Bible, which was to become one of the great weapons of the Reformation. Luther's German style was very good, and he wrote very good German. That's one thing he translated from the original texts from Hebrew and Greek, not from Latin, which again was a very good thing. And when his Bible was published, as I say, it spread very widely, very rapidly. And, you know, it established itself as the sort of classic German translation, which of course it still is and to the present day. So he used his time wisely during his incarceration.

He also spent this time writing various theological tracts, explaining his position, first of all, of course, to himself, because he was trying to figure it out for himself as he went along and then to everybody else as well. And one of his big things at this point is that he begins to put together his views on free will in his famous tract on the bondage of. The will and writing on the bondage of the will. Luther says it is not possible. To do anything to achieve your own salvation. Now, that was not a new doctrine that had been said by Augustine. Of course you say. But the difference was that Luther believed it was possible to be justified before God. In other words, to be accepted by God as a child, you know, as a child of his without being holy. In the in the normal sense of the word, you know, without having achieved any kind of spiritual perfection. Because. Part of being saved by grace or the essence of being saved by grace is that you are united with Christ. And that Christ has died for you, that he has paid the price for your sins, and that therefore, when you stand before God and God's throne of judgment, God is not judging you. He is judging Christ because Christ has taken your place, my place. So therefore, the judgment falls on Christ. And of course Christ is forgiven. And therefore you and I are forgiven in Him. So that the righteousness that that we have is not our own righteousness, not anything we have done to deserve this. We have never done anything to deserve it. We don't deserve it. It is Christ's righteousness which has been applied, or to use the theological term, imputed to us.

You see that we get the credit. We are the beneficiaries of what Christ has done on our behalf. Now, this makes it possible, therefore, to stand in the presence of God. Still being a sinner. You see, you don't have to be perfect in order to be accepted by God, because actually God is not accepting you. He's accepting Christ, you say, and Christ is the one who is extending His grace to you through his death on the cross. That's the importance of his death, atoning death and so on. Now, this is caught up in a little phrase which is very famous, the Latin phrase simple justice and piccata, which means at the same time symbol simultaneously, you see at the same time just and a sinner. Or we normally just translate it as a justified simmer. Now, this is not something this justification is not something you can choose. It is not something that you can decide that you're going to work towards. It is a gift of God given to those who believe. And who accept in trust. What God has done for them. Hoo hoo. Just say, right, Lord, I cannot do it myself. You take over. You are the one who must do this. This is what it means to be justified by faith. Now, of course, I don't have to tell you all this because you know all this you know, this is sort of basic Protestant belief. But if you don't. Understand what Luther is saying. And of course, most of the Catholic world did not understand what it was saying. And the Roman Catholic tradition to this day still does not understand what Luther was saying. Then you see this doctrine in a completely different way. And we need to look at that.

So you need to understand why not everybody accepted this. You see why it didn't quite work as universally as you might imagine. First of all, traditional Catholic theology, the theology which Luther had grown up with, made no distinction between justification and sanctification. When Luther said that he was justified by faith. Everybody in Rome said, Yes, of course. Why are you bothering us with this obvious point? You say they did not disagree with this and you are making a very big mistake. If you say that the Catholic Church does not teach justification by faith. It most certainly does. And see that's not the problem. The problem is that they don't distinguish between justification and sanctification. So that, of course, you have to have faith. I mean, you wouldn't be in the church if you didn't have faith and you wouldn't be partaking of the sacraments if you didn't have faith. I mean, faith is obviously necessary, but justification is a process. Not a single act. It sanctification in effect. Now when you move over to the sanctification side of things. Who is truly sanctified. You see? I mean, which one of us would dare to stand up and say I am a sanctified person? Well, none of us. Because we all know that we're still sinners. Do we believe in sanctification? Well, yes, we do. We believe there's such a thing as growing in the Christian life and that that's something we have to do. You know, and that there is such a thing as progress and development and change and mortifying sin and all the rest of it. I mean, we agree with all of this, you say, provided that what you're talking about is sanctification. We don't, however, agree. That because you have reached 83% in your sanctification and I have reached only 63% in mine.

That therefore, I will be spending a little bit more than twice as long in purgatory working off the rest as you will be. I mean, I've already told you the other day I'm going to spend a lot less time in purgatory than you are. So let's get that straight from the beginning. But this is the basic problem. You say that holiness and acceptance before God depends not on justification, not on surrender to Christ and His righteousness being imputed to you, but rather being changed into the likeness of God in Christ. What is called in theology infused righteousness. In other words, having it poured down your throat, you know, like cod liver oil or something like that, you know, and changing you so that you actually become holy. Now there are people who become holy, surprisingly, you know, and these people are well known because they have they are certified as holy, having performed miracles and things like this. And they are canonized by the Roman church as saints. You know, they are the holy people. And you know that they're you know, they have assurance of salvation. You know, they're in heaven, but you can't be sure about anybody else. And indeed, if you say to people, well, well, I know I'm going to heaven when I die, this will not come across to a good Catholic person as something to be envied. You know, but rather something to be pitied because in their way of thinking, you are incredibly presumptuous and arrogant. How do you know you're going to have an. You know what makes you think you're good enough to get there? How come you're calling yourself a saint? Because, of course, in Protestant culture, we're all saints. Frightening thought, though, that is.

You know, I always say that the most evangelistic verse in the scriptures, in my opinion, is when Jesus says, in my father's house, there are many mansions, because, you know, you can preach the gospel to the most revolting people just say to yourself in the back of your mind, it's all right. When we get to heaven, he'll be in a different mansion to me. Now, that may sound very cynical, but believe me, there's a lot of people who don't preach the gospel to certain people because basically we don't like them and don't want them in heaven. You know, you'd be you'd be amazed what an impact that crazy idea has anyway. So do be careful about this. But you see. On what basis are we saying this? How can we make this sort of claim? Because quite clearly, I mean, you don't have to look very far to discover that in Catholic terms, we are not wholly. We are not saints. We sin dramatically on a daily basis. So you say if you haven't distinguished in your mind between justification and sanctification. It is really blasphemous to go around saying. That you're going to go to heaven when you die. Because you are assuming that God is going to give you something to which you are not entitled. Jimmy. That's the Catholic point of view. And they are genuinely mystified. But when they meet Protestants who say this kind of thing because they cannot figure out on what basis you are daring to make such an arrogant claim. And you need to realize this. You need to understand this and see that it is possible to find a way of speaking a form of words which Protestants and Catholics can both agree on. And justification is one of those forms of words.

In fact, I would even go further and say that a Catholic could stretch it and say justification by justification by faith alone. It would be possible to because it just depends on what you include under the term faith. You know, and you can you can sort of fiddle around a little bit with that. So that's that is not the issue. The real issue is whether you think of justification and sanctification as basically the same thing. That the more sanctified you are, the more justified you are. Now, as I say, Luther, in this respect, made a genuine breakthrough. Now you say to yourself, Well, how come? I mean, why didn't nobody see this before? You know, why was it so difficult? Very hard to say why this wasn't clearly stated before, but I think the underlying reason has to be that. People did not have. A very clearly worked out doctrine of the Atonement, because it comes back to that in the end. In the early church, there was no doctrine of the atonement. Now you say to yourself, Well, how could that be? They must have believed in the death of Christ and so on. Well, yes, they did. But the atonement, as we understand it, the work of Christ on the cross, was understood as part of what we today would call Christology. For those of you who read big, long theological books, and I know I'm only talking to two or three of you at the moment, basically they had no. So teleology is what I'm trying to say. All right. That's for the intellectuals. Now back to the normal people that the work of Christ was regarded as part of his person and nature. Okay. So that when you got a discussion about salvation, as you do in, say, Gregory of Nazianzus, he will say something like, what has he did say? What has not been assumed has not been healed.

In other words, if Christ were not fully human, if he didn't have a human will, a human brain, a human soul, a human, this, that and the other, that aspect of our being would not be saved. You say the Christ who died on the cross must be fully, totally, completely in every respect, a human being, in order for our salvation to be genuine, to to cover the whole of our being. That's the way they thought. And this way of thinking carried on right through the Middle Ages. Because when Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, you know, in the early 12th century, wrote his famous theological treatise on the on the Atonement, as we call it, what did he entitle this treatise? He entitled This treatise Cor Deus Homo. Why God, man. In other words, he began his discussion of the Atonement with the incarnation. And this is vitally important to understand, because the whole of Western theology right through the Middle Ages was incarnation based. And if you don't believe me, all you have to do is look at folk religion and ask yourself what is the most important Christian festival? Well after the really important ones like Halloween and Valentine's Day and things like that. I mean, the most important Christian festival is Christmas. You see that remains in our folk culture, the central religious holiday of the year, not Easter. You see? Not for us. Not really. I mean, Easter's around, but it doesn't have the centrality in our way of thinking that Christmas does. It's not as basic and as fundamental. And this is a legacy of the medieval theological approach. You see that that that salvation begins at the Incarnation. And Catholicism to this day retains that perspective that everything that Christ did from the moment he was conceived in the womb has a saving significance.

You know, I mean, you just imagine someone going around with a bumper sticker, he burped for you or something or something like that. But, you know, well, you never know. You imagine you think that some kind of extreme, but when you see the extremes that are out there, it doesn't. Not so surprising. Anyhow, that's what they maintain. You see that right through his life and that he was saving the world from the beginning. Now, Protestantism and of course, Luther is very important in this respect, shifts the balance, shifts the emphasis from the incarnation to the crucifixion. Of course, the Catholic tradition does not deny the crucifixion. It's very hot on the crucifixion. And we see crucifixes all over the place, you say. But it is very noticeable in Catholic piety that the crucifixion is always portrayed as the incarnate Christ being crucified. In other words, you have the body on the cross, and a lot of Protestants don't like that, but they don't really know why. I mean, they can't deny that it happened, you know, but they prefer an empty cross, you know, for all sorts of made up reasons. But the main reason is that, you see they don't have the same incarnation or perspective. Now, having said that, of course, it does not mean that either Luther or any Protestant for that matter, denies the incarnation. We're not denying the incarnation. We are just looking at it in a different way that the Incarnation, far from being the beginning of our salvation, is a preparation for our salvation. And we take the verse that he learned obedience even to death on the cross. You know that this was a preparation, a buildup to the sacrifice. And we put the emphasis very much on the sacrifice.

When Christ died, it was his death which paid the price for our salvation. Now, is it possible to overemphasize the crucifixion? Yes, it is. And in Protestant tradition, this has occasionally happened, particularly among Lutherans. If you want some good examples, Johann Sebastian Bach, for instance. And his wonderful passion is, you know, the Matthew passion and John's passion and so on. There's this tremendous build up to the crucifixion and that's that. You know, you end with the tears burying the body in the tomb and there's no resurrection. And it is possible, as I say, at a more perhaps prosaic level, if you interpret the words of Jesus on the cross when he said it is finished to mean that his work is over, it's completed now and so he can die. You know, you hear that interpretation sometimes. That, again, is putting an overemphasis on the crucifixion. Why? Because it's failing to recognize that the crucifixion is really the first in a series of events which must be taken together for our salvation to be properly understood. You cannot talk about the crucifixion without the resurrection. But you can and people do. But this is a mistake. And what is more, it goes against the New Testament teaching, because one of the most interesting things about the New Testament, if you look at it carefully, is that the Apostle Paul uses crucifixion and resurrection interchangeably as two sides of the same event. And you see this perhaps most clearly, you know, in First Corinthians, where he starts off in the beginning by saying, I'm determined to preach nothing among you but Christ and Christ crucified. And then by the time you get to chapter 15, he's going on saying, you know, if we if we do not believe in the resurrection, we are, of all men, the most miserable, you see.

I mean, you know, if Christ is not raised from the dead, you know, we have no salvation. So you realize when you put these two things together that preaching Christ and Christ crucified means also preaching Christ resurrected as far as the apostle Paul is concerned. So you can't divorce one from the other. So these two things have to be held, held together. However, Luther very much focuses on the cross and the meaning of the cross and penetrates to a depth of understanding here which had eluded the church before his time. In particular, there were two things that Luther said or he emphasized, which nobody else had ever done. Anselm had said that Christ paid the price for the sins of the whole world. This is known in theology as the satisfaction theory of atonement. Building on that, the medieval church had created a situation in which Jesus reigning up in heaven. With his. Wounded side, the blood flowing from his wounds and all the rest of it. Has earned enough credit or merit, as it was called. Same thing. To be capable of paying the price for every sin that exists. You see. So the the the resources are available in heaven for pay for for taking away everybody's sin. All right. This happens in practice. Through the church, which is a kind of bank of heaven on earth. And what you do is, of course, you go to the bank to withdraw credit merit. Every time you need it. This is what is known as the sacraments. You see, like a good bank. They provide different plans for different people and you have to give the Catholic Church credit, whatever you say against it, it is extremely flexible. You know, anybody can be a Catholic.

This is not true of Protestantism. Only on paper, you see, on paper, anybody can be a Protestant. But in reality, you have to do a lot of things. I mean, you have to you know, you have to be able to read and write for the stars. You know, you've got to sort of stand up and make a confession of faith and you've got to do this and that and the other. You know, you've got to be quite a sort of active, involved kind of person to keep up with the Joneses and the Protestant church. And people are down on you quite heavily if you don't, you know, they sort of they look badly at you. Whereas Catholics have sanctity for all levels, you know, they really do. I mean, I'm not saying it's right or anything else, but, you know, if you want to go off and be a saint and be a Mother Teresa, well, that's fine. You can go and be Mother Teresa if you want to be a a sort of bouncer in a bar or something like that, that's fine too, because we have confession at 5:00 on Saturdays and then you can go for a quick mass and then go off to the bar, you know, and come back next week for more confession. See what I mean? There's something for everybody at different levels. Now that may not be right, but but you've got to give them the fact that they are flexible in this kind of way. And so, of course, withdrawing money from the withdrawing the blood of Christ or see the credit of Christ from the Bank of Heaven through the church is something which you can do as long as you stay, you know, in the good books of the bank manager who is the pope.

This is the importance of the pope, because, of course, as you know only too well, if you are a naughty little boy, the pope can turn off the the the credit line. And, you know, so you have to keep in with the authorities in the right way. This is their power. You say, and whether you take out $0.10 or $10 million is really neither here nor there. You say at any particular point, you know a good bank. They think in the long term you're taking out $0.10 today. But who knows? You know, you may sort of up that as time goes on. You see what I mean? And this is the merit theory of salvation. This is the way it works. Now, this, of course, comes along with this in in the background. I mean, this is what everybody thinks, basically the way it all happens. And what Luther says is, yes, it's true that Christ has paid the price for our salvation. What Anselm said was correct. He doesn't deny and so what Anselm taught, but he said it has been misunderstood because Christ did not die for the sin of the world in some kind of abstract way. You know, as if there's now a sort of unlimited trust fund up in heaven waiting to be drawn on by people as they need it. It's not doesn't work like that. Christ did not die for sins at all. In actual fact, Christ died for people. He died for sinners, not for sins. And therefore, of course, in his death on the cross. It was not that he was earning a lot of merit with the Father in heaven. That's the wrong way of looking at it. He was taking your place. And my place.

So that satisfaction for sin, which is a reality, yes. Has to be understood in the meaning of substitution. That Christ took my place. You see this substitution, the character of atonement, which is not found in Anselm. Now, I'm not saying Anselm didn't believe it. Perhaps he would have done if he had occurred to him or if somebody had mentioned it to him. I'm not suggesting that. But Luther saw what was wrong with the satisfaction theory of and how it had been misinterpreted. And he tightened it up, if you like. You see in this particular way by shifting the emphasis from sins as actions to sinners, as actors, as people. You see, Christ died for you. Christ died for me. All right. Now, once you have that perspective. Of course, the matter of sinning. I've actual sins become secondary. Because if Christ died for me. I mean, it is true that I am a sinner, but whether I'm a little sinner or a big sinner or whatever will not make any difference. Because he died for me, not for what I've done or not done. Now, if you are a big sinner, this is actually not such a terrible problem. I mean, people who are big sinners often find it surprisingly easy sometimes to accept the love of God and so on, because they know what they've been saved from. It's often the little sinners who have a lot more trouble because they don't really believe they've sinned at all. You know, at least not in any terribly serious way. I mean, maybe they steamed a stamp off an envelope once that hadn't been, you know, canceled and they reused it or something really wicked like that, you know. But but, I mean, this is this is the level of sin which they they believe in.

And of course, other people sin all the time. But they don't particularly, you know, in our churches are full of people like that, people who in theory would believe in justification by faith and in practice don't really think they've ever sinned. You know, not not in any desperately sorry, serious way. But this, of course, is saying, well, even if you're just a little sinner. You are just as much in need of Christ's salvation as if you were a very big sinner. Because the sentence is not. The degree of sin is irrelevant. It is you that he has died for as a as an individual. And therefore you must make your response to him whether you have sinned a great deal or not. You say that doesn't. That's not the point. So the whole emphasis is shifted. Now, the other thing that Luther says and it's tied to this is that God cannot tolerate sinners in his presence. It's not just sin that he doesn't like it sinners, people who have rebelled against him, because that is the basic problem. And we're all in that boat. You know, whether we have have had a lot of opportunity to manifest it or not. And so when Christ took your place and my place on the cross, he wasn't just, you know, doing this or doing us a favor. A favor. This wasn't his community service for the week or something like this. He was being punished. For you and me. It was a punishment. Which he took on himself. God does not forgive sin, says Luther, in the sense of forgetting all about it. I mean, God doesn't sort of pat us on the back and say, Oh, well, you know, we won't worry about that. You know, just forget it.

Human beings do this kind of thing. But this is not what divine forgiveness is about. Divine forgiveness is the fruit of divine justice. Divine justice which has been borne by Christ. You see who has paid the price? I mean, quite literally. He has taken the wrath of God on himself. And this is where the wrath of God becomes an important concept. And we who would be the victims of this wrath. I saved from it because he has stepped in and taken it instead. So that God's forgiveness is not a forgetfulness. It's not a forgetting. It is a transfer. From Christ to us. Now all from us to Christ. If you're talking about guilt, you see guilt and sin and so on this kind of thing. Christ has paid this price for us. He has taken our guilt on him. Now, if this is the case. Salvation. Can only be had. In terms of a living relationship with Christ. You cannot just, you know, go running to and from the bank whenever you need money. In fact, that is a complete waste of time, you know, because that's not what the problem is. You have got to be in a living personal relationship with God in Christ, because if you are not, then Christ's righteousness will not cover you. You see that to me? And this is, again, an essential difference. Between Catholic theology and Protestant theology. Catholic theology does not emphasize a personal relationship with God in Christ. I mean, you can talk about that if you want to, but it would be understood in a slightly different way, because the grace of God is sort of doled out and, you know, as and when it's required, this sort of thing. But it's an abstract thing, really.

Whereas Protestants don't receive little bits of grace here and there, we don't think like that. We are born again, you see, which is a whole different concept. Because if you are born again, you are, you are. You start over and you totally. You aren't, you know, just sort of in again, out, again, not quite sure where you are. You are standing on entirely new ground. And this is the radical difference. That loser's understanding of atonement. And that Luther's doctrine of salvation meant. Now once Luther started preaching this. And this is where we get back to the book about God and all that. I mean, at the time he started working this out, once this got reached, the general public, a lot of the people who originally supported him turned against him, notably Erasmus. Because Erasmus, who had been all for Luther when he was criticizing the pope. I thought that was brilliant. Was now all against Luther because he was denying free will. And of course, it was a big controversy between Luther and Erasmus over precisely this point. And what Lucy discovered then is what generations of faithful Christians have discovered since, that if you start preaching the gospel, you will divide your supporters before you win anybody else. You know, because the message as it sinks home will not go over too well. With a lot of people who might be all behind you in other ways. I mean, the gospel is a very unsettling message. And we need to understand this, particularly if you're going to be preachers, if you're preacher in the church. I did not believe in my heart of hearts that God hardened people against salvation. Until I became a preacher and I saw it happening in front of me.

You know, I mean, people whom you could just see hardening against what you had to say and it wasn't that you had anything personal against them. You know, but you can suddenly see that there was a message there. There was a word from God, which when it touched that person's life instead of bringing them into faith, turned them the other way. And in a sense, that's what happened with Erasmus. Why? Because in his heart of hearts, Erasmus wanted to save himself. You say he was an intellectual and therefore, why shouldn't he be able to? And there won't be many intellectuals in the Kingdom of heaven for that reason. You know, and that wasn't my invention. I mean, the Apostle Paul says that in one Corinthians. Look around you. Not many wise, not many rich, not many powerful in this world. But God has chosen the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, you say. And that's another very comforting thought when you look at the dodos sitting in front of you on a Sunday morning. But, you know, I think How on earth behind. Yeah, right. You know, I mean, you can derive a lot of comfort from these things, but it's actually very true. Because any kind of human pride. Is in the sight of God. Wicked wrong and of course, totally pointless because no matter how intelligent you are, you're not nearly as intelligent as God. So why bother pretending? You know, you're not nearly as rich as God. You're not nearly as good an athlete as God, etc., etc.. So I mean, if God is your competition, forget it. You lose every time. And so you see, this is the snag, isn't it? This is the trap which is set.

I mean, human pride being what it is. And a lot of people will not accept that. Another thing which you find is at a more humble level is that an awful lot of people like to contribute to their own salvation. These are the people. If you go door to door visiting, they will not come to church, but they'll give you a dollar for the collection plate. The world is full of people like this. You're saying they're not? They have no ill will. You know, they're not against you. They think the church is a good idea, doing a good job and and so on. But yes, they haven't really got quite they haven't got enough time to actually go there. But, you know, they want to show that they're going to help and so on. And as long as they can give you a dollar and get rid of you, that's fine. You know, and it's the same sort of attitude, isn't it? People like to feel that they're making their contribution. And there's something in in us as human beings that wants to do that. And of course, there's a context where. That's right. I mean, if you're sharing at a at a sort of church barbecue or something, I mean, of course you bring your your share and you help out and you do your part and so on, that's fine. I mean, you're contributing in that respect. Yes, that's that's appropriate in that context. But when it comes to salvation, I mean, what on earth can you give God, you know, and you can't bring your, you know, your piggybank and say, well, here, here you are, Lord, You know, it's not much, but you take it, you know, and let that be my little contribution to salvation, to my salvation.

God doesn't want that. And God says, Forget it. I have saved you by what I have done. And anything you try to do, I mean, you may be very well intentioned, but it's all wrong. It's not going to do anything. And there's a lot of people don't want to hear that message. They don't want to feel that they're dependent on anybody, least of all God. You know, because they've always been independent all their lives and they need to go on being independent. Hell is full of individualists, of course, and say, and people who do their own thing and are proud of it. So you see there are tremendous knock on effects here. Luther's developing of his theology was not just, you know, one more academic sort of coming up with a bright idea and getting a Ph.D. for it. Luther's thinking completely altered the way his followers perceived their relationship with God. And therefore, of course, completely altered the way they understood the function of the church. And once you started along that line. Reformation, as we understand it, which is not just cleaning up the abuses, but creating a different kind of church. Was inevitable. You needed a different kind of church in order to cope with a different kind of teaching. With a different sort of belief. And the old type of church no longer had any made any sense. So we say, I mean, it made sense in its own terms, but once you change your theology, once you change your way of thinking, once you are born again in Christ, then it no longer has the same it no longer has the same effect. Now, you've studied people reject that, though. Yeah. The other result of the problem, like it was in the case of Rama, not the same thing as what the Bible states in Romans one about people who rejected the truth and God given them a of them.

Well, yes, not exactly the same thing, but it is it is connected with that. Yes. I mean, I would say it's more like Romans nine, isn't it, where God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, you know, and and all that. You know, it talks about Pharaoh in Egypt and so on. And and why did God harden? But still, it's a basic idea. Yes. And it's very hard to believe in it until you stand up and preach and see it happen. You know, I mean, you can talk about it in theory, but it's quite frightening when you actually see people, you know, reacting like that. And, you know, it's not anything you've done or even anything that you're aware of. Having said that, puzzled by the whole thing, you know, why does so-and-so just not like this kind of thing? But it's because it's not a personal thing between you and then it's something that in the message, you know, they don't like. And you can be bet your bottom dollar that people who don't like the gospel message are never going to say that. They'll say they don't like the way you talk. They don't like you know, they can't hear you properly. They think your wife is doing too much, you know, out and etc.. I mean, they'll find any number of reasons to complain other than the real point. You know, because that's too embarrassing. They're never going to get to that. But they'll get rid of you. All right. On that note.