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What Luther Says

Martin Luther's Pulpit Presence

I've been reading The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile) by Steven Lawson after I received a free digital copy recently and have loved every minute of it so far!

In fact, yesterday, I finally finished it after several months and would highly recommend you try to get your hands on a copy (or, better yet, contact me and I'll be happy to forward my copy to you).

Lawson does a superb job of including so many quotes not just from Luther himself to portray what kind of a faithful, godly man he really was, but also a ton of quotes from other Christian scholars who share their thoughts on the man and his ministry as well.

Let me just put it to you this way: It's a good thing this was a Digital Book and I could use the "highlight" feature, because I highlighted so many things and added so many notes along the way that that's probably why it took me twice as long to read it from start to finish!

Anyway, if you're interested, here's an interview that Mr. Lawson gave to promote the book a few months ago that will give you a taste of what it's focus is and why he came up with the title that he did.

The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther: An Interview with Steven Lawson from Ligonier Ministries on Vimeo.

Obviously, Dr. Lawson is of the Reformed camp (as this is sponsored by Ligonier Ministries) so I'll have to rely on you life-long Lutherans to tell me if there was anything about what he said that is inconsistent with Lutheran Doctrine or just not quite right.

From what I could tell though (from the interview and from what I've read so far), it seems like a pretty faithful presentation on Luther's life and ministry and certainly worth your time and prayerful consideration during this day-and-age.

Since I just completed the book, here's a final excerpt I wanted to share with you today regarding Martin Luther's pulpit presence.

This book had so much to say about his style of preaching, but what I've learned is something that seems like it's often overlooked and that is the fact that Luther was most certainly concerned with evangelism through his Christ-centered and cross-centered sermons.

In the pulpit, Luther was, first and foremost, an evangelist. Here are two examples of the words of Luther as he pleaded with his listeners to believe in Christ:

Refusal to believe this is not Christ’s fault; it is mine. If I do not believe this, I am doomed. It is for me to say simply that the Lamb of God has borne the sin of the world. I have been earnestly commanded to believe and to confess this, and then also to die in this faith.46

If someone does not partake of and enjoy such grace and mercy, he has none to blame but himself and his refusal to believe and accept it.…Go to the devil if you refuse to believe these words! For if you are in the world and your sins form a part of the sins of the world, then the text applies to you.47

Further, Luther called his listeners to make the decisive choice to turn to Christ. He specifically called them to place their faith in Christ:

It is extremely important that we know where our sins have been disposed of. The Law deposits them on our conscience and shoves them into our bosom. But God takes them from us and places them on the shoulders of the Lamb. If sin rested on me and on the world, we would be lost; for it is too strong and burdensome. God says: “I know that your sin is unbearable for you; therefore behold, I will lay it upon My Lamb and relieve you of it. Believe this! If you do, you are delivered of sin.” There are only two abodes for sin; it either resides with you, weighing you down; or it lies on Christ, the Lamb of God. If it is loaded on your back, you are lost; but if it rests on Christ, you are free and saved. Now make your choice!48

Such fervent gospel appeals were typical of Luther’s preaching. Here was a man whose heart was aglow with burning passion for the lost to respond with saving faith in Christ.

*- The Heroic Boldness Of Martin Luther
(A Long Line of Godly Men Profile),

Steven J. Lawson

That last point is an important one, IMHO.

Now, you all know that I come from a background that was H-E-A-V-Y on promoting the un-Biblical doctrine of "Decision Theology" ("Yes, You Can Cast A Vote For Jesus Or For Satan And So Your Salvation Is Ultimately All Up To You!"), but that's not what this excerpt is saying that Martin Luther was all about. Not at all!

Pastors must exhort their listeners to believe, to have faith, in Jesus Christ and His Word and Sacraments, because to reject any of it is to run the risk of falling away from the faith and causing a "shipwreck" to your faith (1 Timothy 1:19).

So, in that sense, the above excerpts are merely some examples of how Martin Luther went about reminding the people of this truth.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, Luther was cross-eyed and cross-focused for sure, and this particular book does a great job of communicating those truths about his life and ministry.

This is one of the better books I've read in quite some time (I highly recommend it) simply due to the fact that the very things Luther boldly addressed during his life and ministry in service to the Lord are the very same things that we are dealing with in Christ's Church today.

While I believe that all Lutherans (all Christians) can benefit from reading a book like this, I think that those who are new to the Lutheran faith like I am will find it especially fascinating if not a confirmation of all the reasons why they are exploring the Lutheran faith in the first place.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that perhaps wouldn't be too big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in interpreting a specific portion of Scripture exegetically, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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