Martin Luther - Lesson 14

The Promise of the Sacraments

The sacraments are an external expression of an internal reality.

Gordon Isaac
Martin Luther
Lesson 14
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The Promise of the Sacraments

The Promise of the Sacraments

Luther, the Pastor: Mark 16


The tension between the theology of the cross and glory.

God reveals himself in the stuff of earth.

Luther on word and sacrament: a little foreign to our evangelical ears.

Perceptions of Luther:

hero of the faith

not finished with the reformation, too close to Catholics

Luther stands alone on sacraments removed from Catholics and Anabaptists.


I. The Sixteenth Century Context

A. Peter Lombard - Most popular theological text of the middle ages

B. Sacraments of the New Law - 7 sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Unction, Eucharist, Orders, Marriage, Penance

C. Remedy against sin, assisting grace.

Lull pg. 527-528 - Luther breaks with his 16th century context.


II. The movement is from God to Man

A. The definition of a Sacrament as a sign plus the Word.

1. "Baptism is nothing but the word of Christ in water..."

2. Lull pg. 484

B. The receiving of a Sacrament is a receiving of God's action.

C. It is properly used in faith

Elaboration of the movement of God to man.

1. Words of institution

2. Words of consecration - origin of hocus pocus (hoc est corpus meum, this is my body spoken to the elements. Luther said let's speak this to the people instead.


III. The Sacraments keep the Word from Disappearing into the Inner Life

God always deals with us in the external and this confirms an inner reality.

Discussion of Carlstadt's notion of remembrance being an internal focus.

Smalcald Articles Part III, Article VIII - All this is the old devil and the old serpent who made enthusiasts of Adam and Eve....

Theology is for Proclamation - Ferde

Luther's Debate w/ Carlstadt

Book of Concord 440, 28 Part 4 on Baptism "Our know-it-alls, the new spirits, assert that faith alone saves and that works and external things contribute nothing to this end..."

A. The Fall is enticement away from the external Word to subjectivity.

B. The Sacraments stand as guard against this subjectivity.

C. They are an attack on the Old Adam.

What we find is that Luther's view is:

1. tied into the theology of the cross

2. the words of institution

3. movement from God to Man

4. external tie between Spirit and the Word. These are not separate.

All Lessons
  • Introduction to the life and theology of Martin Luther.

  • Luther expressed his views in a way that was shaped by his theology and the culture.

  • Martin Luther was born in Germany in the late 15th century, just after Guttenberg developed his printing press.

  • When Martin Luther posted the 95 theses, his intention was to discuss and debate the misuse of indulgences, but it was interpreted by the church heirarchy as an attack on the power of the papacy.

  • Luther's writings demonstrate his ability to understand and articulate issues that are at the core of the nature of God and man. His theology is distinct from philosophy and consists of many comments on passages in Psalms and Romans.

  • Faith alone justifies. By faith the Christian is made to love God, therefore a person does good works because they cannot remain idle.

  • The work of Christ when he allowed himself to be crucified on the cross, teaches us about God's nature, our nature and our relationship to God.

  • Luther's fourfold sense of scripture focused on historical (literal), allegorical (figurative), tropological (moral), and anagogic (future).

  • Luther's view of the atonement differs from classical views taught during his time and view held by the scholastic tradition.

  • Luther's teaching on justification by faith is central to his theology.

  • Theology of the cross assumes bondage and moves to freedom.

  • Four positions on predestination include the Calvinist, neo-Protestant, intuitu fidei, and Gnesio-Lutherans.

  • Luther's commentary on Galatians is an attempt to set "Law" in its proper setting.

  • The sacraments are an external expression of an internal reality.

  • Luther's teachings on the importance of baptism and arguments for infant baptism.

  • Luther's view of the theological and personal significance of the Lord's Supper.

  • The kingdom of God and secular government have areas of unity and areas of differences.

  • Luther gives a definition of the church and describes characteristics of the church.

  • Luther developed a catechism to help people focus on the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith.

  • Martin Luther's writings can encourage people to pursue their relationship with God on a deeper level.

This course is an introduction to the life and writings of the great German reformer, Martin Luther. There are 20 lectures totaling approximately 18 hours. These lectures were given at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.