Brethren, it’s Reformation Anniversary Fever! You’re probably going to hear this testimony a million times this month. It’s worth it, read it a million times beloved friends! There is only one other person in my studies of church history that I can see come remotely close to the awareness of his own sin as Luther, and that’s Bunyan. The deep understanding Luther had of his own sin led to the deep love he had towards the God that forgave him that sin.
My favorite anecdote of Luther is when Rome sent him a letter telling him to knock it off. Luther and all his students go out to the middle of the street and burn that letter at the stake! Why? Because essentially the letter was a threat, recant or you will be called a heretic and burned at the stake. I think Rome got the message, and he probably would have been martyred if not for some friends in high places. Ever hear of Junker Jorg? Trust me, brethren, you want to hear that story!
One more anecdote and I’m done, I promise. Luther once said that he would never marry because his life was in constant danger. A year later he married a nun he helped smuggle out in fish barrels with some of her friends! You really need to be careful what you tell God your not willing to do. Ok now on to the testimony!
“But up till then it was not the cold blood ab out the heart, but a single word in Chapter 1, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed,” that had stood in my way. For I hated that word “righteousness of God,” which, according to the use and custom of all the teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically regarding the formal or active righteousness, as they call it, with which God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.
Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, “As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!” Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.
At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.'” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scripture from memory. I also fount in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us wise, the strenght of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.
And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word “righteousness of God.” Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise.”
I hope you were blessed by this testimony, beloved brethren, as always be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved!