Friday, December 30, 2011

A Mighty Fortress

Martin Luther is a towering giant in the history of the Church, and an iconic figure in the Protestant Reformation. Born in Germany 498 years ago, he became a Roman Catholic Priest, scholar and professor. His study of God's word led him to rebel against the teachings of the church which allowed for sin to be forgiven by monetary purchase. His "Ninety-Five Theses", presented in 1517 brought him in direct conflict with the Catholic Church. Pope Leo X demanded that Luther retract his writings. Luther refused, and as a result, was excommunicated from the Church.

Luther is perhaps best known for his teaching of Justification by Faith. He taught that salvation came through Christ alone, and could not be earned by our good deeds. This Biblical doctrine teaches that only a belief in the vicaroious death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Christ could bring one into right standing with God. He rejected the concept of the Papacy and taught the priesthood of all believers.

His translation of the Latin Bible into the language of the people, made a tremendous impact on the church, by making God's Word more easily accessible to the common man. It also led to further translations, and influenced the the King James translation in 1611.

Luther also authored several hymns. One of those hymns has become one of my very favorites. It has long been a standard and a comfort to believers who face tribulation and persecution. It was inspired by Psalm 46, and my heart thrills when I sing (or even just read) the words of this great treatise of faith. I joyfully share this message with you today.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing;

Our helper, He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;

His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,

On Earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.

Were not the right man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;

Lord Sabaoth, His name, from day to day the same;

And He must win the battle.

And tho' this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us;

We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure, for lo, his end is sure,

One little word will fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours, through Him who with us sideth:

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;

The body they may kill; God's truth abideth still,

His kingdom is forever.

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