Luther’s Hymns and Some Free Reformation Day Resources

As part of our commemoration of Reformation Day I post once again (as I did in 2010) Martin Luther’s great Reformation Hymn “A Mighty Fortress”, sung by the St.Olaf’s Choir. This particular video also includes a wonderful collection of Reformation pictures. Turn up the volume and praise God for the great Reformation!

Another hymn which Luther wrote captures well his struggle to find the gospel of God’s sovereign grace. I trust that this hymn will also speak to your own heart.

In devil’s dungeon chained I lay
The pangs of death swept o’er me.
My sin devoured me night and day
In which my mother bore me.
My anguish ever grew more rife,
I took no pleasure in my life
And sin had made me crazy.

Then was the Father troubled sore
To see me ever languish.
The Everlasting Pity swore
To save me from my anguish.
He turned to me his father heart
And chose himself a bitter part,
His Dearest did it cost him.

Thus spoke the Son, ‘Hold thou to me,
From now on thou wilt make it.
I gave my very life for thee
And for thee I will stake it.
For I am thine and thou art mine,
And where I am our lives entwine,
The Old Fiend cannot shake it.’

Found in Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton, pp.66-67.

Of further interest to our readers is this: various Reformed/Calvinistic sources are also offering free eBooks and other resources for Reformation Day 2013. Be sure to check out these deals!

From Ligonier:

Many people are unaware of the events of Martin Luther’s life that led him to make a courageous stand for the gospel in the sixteenth century. In celebration of Reformation Day, we are offering the downloadable edition of R.C. Sproul’s ten-part series Luther and the Reformation for free. This series introduces the life and thought of Luther while exploring the lessons we can learn today.

Download Luther and the Reformation today and please share this resource with your friends. The study guide can also be downloaded for free.

And don’t forget this special free ebook for October (expires today!).

From “Desiring God”:

From Reformation Heritage Books (nothing free, but a good sale on some solid Reformation titles!)

From Zondervan Academic (click on the link for their Reformation Week eBook sale – through Nov.3 – not free but good prices!)

Luther’s Struggle to Find the Gospel of God (3)

HereIStand-RBaintonThe final part of our little Reformation series on Martin Luther’s struggle to find the gospel of God takes us to that part of his life when he assumed the chair of Bible at the University of Wittenberg and began preaching and teaching the Word of God to his fellow Roman Catholic monks. It was during this period (1513-1517) and through these labors (Scripture alone!) that God led Luther to see the light of salvation by grace alone in Christ alone and through faith alone.

For our description of this we quote once more from Roland Bainton’s classic biography of Luther, Here I Stand. And then we will hear from Luther himself as he describes his conversion by and to the true gospel of God.

Luther set himself to learn and expound the Scriptures. On August 1, 1513, he commenced his lectures on the book of Psalms. In the fall of 1515 he was lecturing on St.Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. The Epistle to the Galatians was treated throughout 1516-17. These studies proved to be for Luther the Damascus road. The third great religious crisis which resolved his turmoil was as the still small voice compared to the earthquake of the first upheaval in the thunderstorm at Stotternheim and the fire of the second tremor which consumed him at the saying of his first mass. No ‘coup de foudre’, no heavenly apparition, no religious ceremony, precipitated the third crisis. The place was no lonely road in a blinding storm, nor even the holy altar but simply the study in the tower of the Augustinian monastery. The solution to Luther’s problems came in the midst of the performance of the daily task (p.61-62).

And then came the intense struggle – and solution – in his studies on Romans and Galatians and the Biblical expressions on justification. Here is how Luther himself spoke of his conversion:

I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, ‘the justice of God,’ because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that ‘the just shall live by his faith.’ Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the ‘justice of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven….

If you have a true faith that Christ is your Saviour, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. This it is to behold God in faith that you should look upon his fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness. He who sees God as angry does not see him rightly but looks only on a curtain, as if a dark cloud had been drawn across his face (Bainton, p.65).

About this gospel change in Luther Bainton says, “Luther had come into a new view of Christ and a new view of God. He had come to love the suffering Redeemer and the God unveiled on Calvary” (p.65).

Indeed he had. The question we face on this Reformation Day 2013 is, Have we also by faith embraced this gracious and merciful God of the Scriptures? Do we see Him in Christ as Just and the Justifier of those who trust in Him? May God continue to shine the light of this fundamental truth on our own hearts, so that we also shout Soli Deo Gloria – to God alone be the glory!