The President’s Column
“Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” —Jude 3
In the Lutheran church year calendar, October 31st is designated The Festival of the Reformation. Many secular and church history books refer to the Reformation as the “Protestant Reformation.” However, Protestantism as we know it today stems not from Luther and the true Lutherans, but from Zwingli and Calvin and others. For this reason, it is actually a misnomer to refer to the Reformation as “Protestant.” What role did the Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists play in the Reformation? Calvin never fully embraced the Reformation in all its truth and purity! His “double predestination” and his making God’s sovereignty the center of theology rather than God’s grace in Christ disqualifies him as a true reformer. Historically and therefore accurately, the Reformation is the Lutheran Reformation. There would have been no Reformation were it not for Dr. Martin Luther, whom the Lord raised up to be the chief Reformer. Even many Protestant books admit this! Halley’s Bible Handbook even goes so far as to say of Luther: “Next to Jesus and Paul, the Greatest Man of all the ages.” To many this might sound a bit generous, but the fact that the prime mover and chief confessor of the true doctrine over against Rome was Luther lends credence to Halley’s statement. Before the Diet at Worms Luther stood ALONE! There he said, “Since your Imperial Majesty desires a clear, simple, and precise answer, I will give you one which has neither horns nor teeth. Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by clear reason, I cannot and will not recant, for it is neither safe nor right to act against one’s conscience.” He then added: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise. God help me! Amen.”
Indeed, we today are indebted to God for what He wrought through Luther, namely, to restore to the Church the three solas: Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), Sola Gratia (Grace alone), and Sola Fide (Faith alone). Luther single-handedly got the Bible into the hands of the German people with his excellent German Bible. His preaching that a sinner is saved or justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ delivered many thousands from the bondage of work-righteousness and the man-made doctrines of the papacy and church councils. O what a deliverance!
However, we Lutherans today have a most sober responsibility to preserve and to continue to promote what was accomplished in the Lutheran Reformation! Just as the Jews of Christ’s day let the blessed heritage bequeathed to them from their fathers fall into self-righteous complacency and self-satisfaction, so today many who call themselves Lutheran bring nothing but shame to this name! They have “cozied up” to Rome, even claiming “we are now close” on justification!! What falsehood! If there is closeness, it is because the bulk of today’s Lutherans have zoomed over toward Rome, not because Rome has moved toward Luther! Rome has not budged an inch!
Today more than ever, today, when “they will not endure sound doctrine, but…heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Timothy 4:3-4), we true Lutherans need to heed the word of Jude that “ye should earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” Yes, we must earnestly, with all our hearts, contend or fight for and stand up for the sound doctrine recovered by Luther and passed on to us. Why? Most Lutherans of today could care less about doctrine, and look what has resulted! A loss of the true Gospel itself! A mishmash of ecumenical ties which make a mockery of all that Luther stood for! Thus, we in contrast, we who still love the truth, we who still hold the sound doctrine of the Reformation, need to be bold and uncompromising in these last days when many false prophets have gone out into the world. Let us forget our own creature comforts! Let us cast down our pride! Let us be willing, with the help of God, to lay down our necks for the truth! After all, what is the Truth? It is our LIFE! Christ says, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). It is the pure Word of Truth which makes clear to any stricken sinner, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Shall we just let this slip away to our own perishing? God forbid! Let us earnestly contend for the faith for the saving of souls and for the glory of Christ! Amen.
E. R. S.