The Sins of our Forefathers, part 10.

Martin Luther and the Reformation

The church saw heresy and division and scandals throughout the centuries, the Crusades and Inquisitions, and the Papal States which resulted in land grabs and power. Emperors and kings were ruling and dictating what the church was going to preach and what it’s main doctrine would be  until the Popes gained the power to rule. We also saw that no longer did the Scriptures or even God Himself matter. There was no leading of the Holy Spirit. These were truly the Dark times. But the Times changed and people began to see things differently. We entered into the time called the Early Modern Era, the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment. The invention of the printing press and famous people like Shakespheare, Da Vinci, Bach, and Martin Luther made great accomplishments in science, theater and music and religion.  In the 16th Century the church was going to see another split. This time it was not going to be like the last time, when the Church of Rome was divided between East and West, no, this was going to be a totally different denomination  called Lutheranism.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther was a German Theologian who would change the history of Christianity. Martin became a lawyer by the wishes of his father. Later after experiencing a severe thunderstorm, felt that he was being called into the monastery and so he left his law practice to become a Monk. While there he went back to school to receive his degree in theology and so wanted to advance his studies to get a Doctorate Degree. But this was interrupted by his assignment to represent the observant German Augustinian monasteries in Rome. He found that Rome lacked spirituality and soon he found himself back in Germany finishing his degree. He began to publish theological writings, such as the 97 Theses entitled Disputation Against Scholastic Theology. He offered courses on the Psalms, Romans and Galatians and the book of Hebrews. One of his students wrote this about him, “He was a man of middle stature, with a voice that combined sharpness in the enunciation of syllables and words, and softness in tone. He spoke neither too quickly nor too slowly, but at an even pace, without hesitation and very clearly.”

By 1517 everything was going to change. Irritated by a Dominican friar named Johann Tetzel, who was reported to have preached to the faithful that the purchase of indulgence could forgive sins, Luther wanted to debate this topic of indulgences. An indulgence is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment for sins after the sinner confesses and receives absolution. … The first known use of plenary indulgences was in 1095 when Pope Urban II remitted all penance of persons who participated in the Crusades and who confessed their sins.

Luther sent a copy of the Ninety-five Theses to Tetzel’s superior, Archbishop Albert of Mainz, along with a request that Albert put a stop to Tetzel’s extravagant preaching. Before long, Albert formally requested that official proceedings be commenced in Rome to determine the work’s orthodoxy.  Luther used such phrases as, “Christians should be taught.” One of his questions was, “Why does not the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?” Surely this was the beginning of Luther’s departure from the Catholic Church. Luther struggled and even agonized over the Scriptures. He felt that he could not totally live up to its standard. He would read Paul’s Epistle to the Romans over and over again, especially Romans 1:17, “ For in  the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith: as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live’” By 1518 Luther was summoned to Rome to examine his teachings.As Luther was being questioned , Luther only had thoughts of their ignorance, and the otherside, thought he only had fantasies in his head. Neither side got anywhere and Luther left Rome, but Luther was apprehended and brought back. Pope Leo X  made a Papal statement and addressed the issue of the authority of the church to absolve the faithful from temporal punishment. Luther’s views were declared to be in conflict with the teaching of the church. This debate went on till finally, on June 15, 1520, Pope Leo issued another Papal statement, which charged that 41 sentences in Luther’s various writings were “heretical, scandalous, offensive to pious ears,” though it did not specify which sentences had received what verdict. Luther was given 60 days upon receiving the statement to recant and another 60 days to report his recantation to Rome. On December 10, 1520 Luther took the Papal statement and burned it. Luther was excommunicated from the church. In 1522 Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German. He insisted that the Bible alone was the source of Christian truth and that every Christian believer was able to understand the Biblical message.  Luther had repeatedly written, most significantly in 1523, that marriage is an honourable order of creation, and he regarded the Roman Catholic Church’s insistence on clerical celibacy as the work of the Devil. He married an ex-nun and his enemies made sarcastic remarks about his marriage. In 1525 Luther was isolated from various other reformers in a controversy over the meaning of the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper. The dispute concerned the proper interpretation of Jesuswords when He said, “This is My body…This is My blood.” There were those who argued that these words had to be understood symbolically, as “This symbolizes My body…This symbolizes My blood,” But Luther argued firmly for a literal interpretation. Many believed that Jesus was spiritually, but not physically, present in the communion host, whereas Luther taught that Jesus was really and bodily present. The reform movement became a house that was publicly divided. No matter what, Luther made it clear that he would not change his views: he took a piece of chalk and wrote the Latin words, “Hoc est corpus meum” (“This is My body”), on the table, but the deep division within Protestantism remained. 

Here is a great example of what happens when you do not have an understanding of the Word of God due to a lack of understanding of our Jewish roots. 

The Last Supper

All four gospels including 1 Corinthians all speak about the Last Supper. 

Luke 22:15 says this, “And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” This is a direct reference to the Seder Meal.

The Seder was a celebration of the Exodus from Egypt, Israel’s redemption. As Exodus 6:6 tells us, “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the labors of the Egyptians, and I will rescue you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments.” 

The Seder consists of  four cups of wine and three matzahs and other elements on a plate each representing part of the Exodus story. When Yeshua came to the broken matzah, Luke 22:19-20 records Yeshua saying this, “When He had given thanks, He broke it (the matzah) and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

This matzah that Yeshua broke was called the Afikomen, which is wrapped in a white napkin and hidden till later in the service when it is brought back, and the cup that Yeshua had in his hand was the cup called Redemption. What Yeshua was telling His disciples was that when you do this part in the Seder, this is not only about the Exodus, but about Me. Remember Me, as the Afikoman, that was buried and then rose again, and  remember that the Cup of Redemption is My blood that was shed for your salvation. When we get to this part of the Seder we are to remember our Redeemer and Savior who shed His blood and who died for us, and who took us out of the kingdom of darkness into His kingdom of  light, Colossians 1:13.That was our Exodus.  Paul tells us  in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that Yeshua is our Passover Lamb and that we are to celebrate the feast.  

Eucharist

Over the Centuries we see that there has been this discussion regarding if the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of the Messiah. Once again it is because our forefathers did not base their facts on Scriptures, but they always wanted to have their theories to make their doctrine.  John 6:48-58 tells us this,“I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread that comes down out of heaven, so that anyone may eat from it and not die.  I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats from this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I will give for the life of the world also is My flesh.” Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”  So Yeshua said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.  The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him.  Just as the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, the one who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.This is the bread that came down out of heaven, not as the fathers ate and died; the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

Yeshua was not into cannibalism nor was He a vampire. How many times did Yeshua say the bread, the true manna from heaven? John 1:14 tells us that Yeshua is the Word made flesh. Jeremiah writes in 15:16, “ Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me. How proud I am to bear your name, O Lord.”  Psalm 119:103 says, How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

We are to eat the Word of God, in other words the Word must become part of us. That is how we abide in God and God abides in us as John 15:7-8 tells us, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” When Yeshua said those words to the crowd He was also referring to His crucifixion, as we saw in the Seder. Yeshua did not start some new sacrament, or eucharist or communion…the sacraments were all man made. This was all part of their doctrine and their worship ceremony and they were taken out of their Jewish context, just so they could separate from their Jewish roots. This is a good time to say that Luther and the Prodistant five main beliefs which include by “Grace Alone”, are scripturally debateable.  Today everyone quotes Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Let us never forget that we are saved by the shed blood of Yeshua. It is something that you rarely hear any more and maybe that is why Yeshua said, “When you do this remember Me.” The devil knows that there is power in the shed blood of Yeshua and he would like you to forget that. Are you eating the body and drinking the blood? If not, you need to start by confessing the truth of God’s Word and applying the blood on the lintels of your heart. Luther’s role in the Reformation after 1525 was that of theologian, adviser, and facilitator but not that of a man of action. Biographies of Luther accordingly have a tendency to end their story with his marriage.  He was drawn into fierce controversies during the last decade of his life, and he became a different person—easily angered, dogmatic, and insecure. His tone became loud and harsh, whether in comments about the Anabaptists, the Pope, or the Jews. In each instance his pronouncements were severe and harmful: the Anabaptists should be hanged as seditionists, the Pope was the Antichrist, the Jews should be expelled and their synagogues burned.  Thus he wrote in a June 1543 letter to a friend: “I desire that there be given me a good little hour when I can move onward to God. I have had enough. I am tired. I have become nothing. Do pray earnestly for me so that the Lord may take my soul in peace.” Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546 Martin Luther is assuredly one of the most influential figures in Western civilization during the last millennium. He was the catalyst for the division of Western Christendom into several churches, but he also left a host of cultural legacies, such as the emphasis on the language spoken by ordinary people of the region. He was not a systematic theological thinker. Much like St. Augustine in late antiquity, Luther was what might be called a controversial theologian.  

Next we are going to look at the key tenets of what the Lutherans believe  and the Reformation 500 years later

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