Luther Brings Faith and Grace to Everyday Life
Martin Luther's great evangelism tool was the written word.
Though Luther was famous as a preacher and teacher, he believed that everyone needed to build his or her own personal relationship with God through God's word.
He translated the entire Bible into German (his native language), believing that every single person should be able to read well enough to read the Bible on his or her own. He also wrote the explanations in the Small Catechism, so that parents would have an simple way to teach their children the basics of their faith.
Luther had a complex and interesting life. The definitive biography is Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton (New American Library). John Osborne's Luther (a play published by Criterion Books) was filmed in a version starring Stacey Keach, which is still available.
But the important part of Luther's life is the legacy he left to us of his overwhelming fascination with the study of God and God's relationship to us.
He based his view of God on a thorough rereading of the New Testament, from which come the key Lutheran beliefs of priesthood of believers (Hebrews 7, 9 , and 10) and justification by faith (Romans 3: 23).
The priesthood of believers includes all of us, and it means that each of us has the right to approach God directly through prayer and study without go-betweens and without wondering which of us is the most important to God: each of us is equally important to God.
And in Christian community, we serve as priests to one another.
Justification by faith means that God loves us and saves us not because of who we are or what we do, but because he created us and we are his.
Luther wrote, "In baptism, our sinful selves are drowned, and day by day a new self arises." He encouraged us to remember our baptism every time we take a shower or wash our faces; God's removal of our sins is that close and that constant.
The knowledge of the closeness of God to us in every thing we say and do every day of our lives is Luther's great gift to Christian life.
During Luther's lifetime, he was the best-selling writer in Europe. What would our lives be like if Luther's Small Catechism was at the top of the list of best selling books week-in and week-out?
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