The kingdom of God - 5A - The reformation

SERMON TOPIC: The kingdom of God - 5A - The reformation, doctrine of grace and counter reformation

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 25 April 2008


Sermon synopsis: The fifth parable of 'The Hidden Treasure' covers the period from approximately 1500 - 1700 AD or the 'Reformation Church'. But contrary to popular opinion the treasure in this parable is not Jesus and we are not the man.

Before the Reformation, the ‘yeast’ had well and truly worked through the dough. The Church had returned to a view that resembled Pelagianism.

Luther was led by God to the conclusion that Christ was the sole mediator between God and man and that forgiveness of sin and salvation are effected by God’s grace alone and are received by faith alone on the part of man.

Also a brief look at the counter reformation.
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The 7 parables of the kingdom - Part 5A

The Seven Parables of the Kingdom



The kingdom is sown. The enemy seeks to steal the seed.


Wheat and Weeds

The enemy sows a counterfeit seed.


Mustard Seed

Exponential growth of the kingdom, but the enemy infiltrates from within.



Widespread corruption spreads throughout the kingdom.


Hidden Treasure

A treasure is found.






The Sower

AD 30 – 100

Apostolic Church


The Wheat and Weeds

AD 100 – 300

Persecuted Church


The Mustard Seed

AD 300 – 600

State Church (Constantine)


The Leaven

AD 600 – 1500

Papal Church (Roman Catholic)


The Hidden Treasure

AD 1500 – 1700

Reformation Church (Protestant)

5) The Hidden Treasure

Mat 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

In this study we’ll cover:

What is the treasure and who is the man?

The Reformation

Martin Luther (Germany)

Ulrich Zwingli (Zurich - Switzerland)

John Calvin (Geneva - Switzerland)

The English reformation

John Knox (Scotland)

The counter reformation

Saved by grace

The 5th kingdom age - Reformation

What is

the treasure

& who is

the man?


The world

In these kingdom parables the field has always been the world. (Matt 13:37 “The field is the world…”)



The parable is about a man who sold all he had to purchase the field (the world) so that he could possess a treasure. DID WE SELL ALL WE HAD TO PURCHASE THE WORLD, OR DID JESUS?

The man in all the other kingdom parables has been Jesus.


The true church

Jesus bought his ‘treasure’ with His blood:

Acts 20:28 Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

Contrary to popular opinion the treasure in this parable is not Jesus and we are not the man. (The same misconception is prevalent with the Pearl of Great Price in the next parable.)

We must interpret Scripture with Scripture.

What is the treasure & who is the man?

We are the ‘treasure’ that Jesus found in the world. Like the man in the parable, He left the treasure in the world:

John 17:14-15 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

Peter addresses his first epistle “to God’s elect, strangers in the world”. (1 Pet 1:1)

Again like the man in the parable Jesus purchased the entire world in order to obtain the treasure in the world. Although Jesus potentially saved the world, only those who believe (the true church) will be His treasure.

1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1

1 Tim 4:9 …we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, 1 and especially of those who believe.

1 i.e. Not a ‘limited atonement’

What is the treasure & who is the man?

How did Jesus purchase his treasure?

Rev 5:9 “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.

Acts 20:28 Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

Why did Jesus do this?

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Was this something Jesus did grudgingly or joyfully?

When the man found the treasure “he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

Heb 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What is the treasure & who is the man?

The Reformation

Mary worship & Prayer to saints

Veneration of relics, images & icons


Repeated sacrifice of the Mass

Compulsory celibacy of priests

Primacy of Rome & Peter



Infant Baptism & Baptismal regeneration

Confession & penance


Hierarchical Governance (Episcopal)


Restriction of access to Scripture

The state of the church

As a great patron of the arts, Pope Leo X ran through the Vatican treasury in just two years. Faced with insurmountable debts at usurious rates, the Church sought salvation in a catalogue of reprehensible schemes: spurious offices went to the highest bidder, and a brisk trade in jubilees, relics and indulgences ensued. 1

Those trying to reform the church were generally declared heretics and burnt at the stake:

Pope Paul IV (1555-59) said: “Even if my own father were a heretic, I would gather wood to burn him.” 1

1 our_heritage/ luther

Leo X (1513-1521) was Pope when Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation. Was made an Archbishop at 8; a Cardinal at 13… Bargained for the Papal chair. Sold church honors. All ecclesiastical offices were for sale… He appointed Cardinals as young as 7. He was in endless negotiations with kings and princes, jockeying for secular power, utterly indifferent to the religious welfare of the church. He maintained the most luxurious and licentious court in Europe. His Cardinals vied with kings and princes in gorgeous palaces and voluptuous entertainment, attended by trains of servants… reaffirmed the Unam Sanctam, in which it is declared that every human being must be subject to the Roman Pontiff for salvation. He issued indulgences for stipulated fees and declared the burning of heretics a divine appointment. 1

1 Halley’s Bible Handbook

Pope Leo X (1513-1521)

The state of the church

The parable of the Hidden Treasure also corresponds to the period in Church history when the Protestant Reformation occurred.

The Protestant Reformation was a movement in Europe that began with Martin Luther’s activities in 1517, with roots further back in time… The movement began as an attempt to reform the Catholic Church. Many western Catholics were troubled by what they saw as false doctrines and malpractices within the Church, particularly involving the teaching and sale of indulgences. Another major contention was the practice of buying and selling church positions (simony) and what was seen at the time as considerable corruption within the Church’s hierarchy. 1

Church beliefs and practices under attack by Protestant reformers included Purgatory… devotion to Mary, the intercession of and devotion to the saints, most of the sacraments, the mandatory celibacy requirement of its clergy (including monasticism), and the authority of the Pope. 1

The most important denominations to emerge directly from the Reformation were the Lutherans, the Reformed/ Calvinists/ Presbyterians, and the Anabaptists… The process of reform had decidedly different causes and effects in England, where it gave rise to Anglicanism. 1

1 Wikipedia

The Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther inadvertently initiated the Protestant 1 Reformation. His vast influence, extending beyond religion to politics, economics, education, and language, has made him one of the crucial figures in modern European history. 2

Luther, the son of a miner, was born in Eisleben (modern Germany) in 1483. By 1505, he had a bachelor’s and a master’s degree and intended to study law, in accordance with his father’s wishes. 2

In 1504, an event occurred that changed his life - he was caught in a violent thunder storm. Instinctively he cried out to the ‘patron saint’ of the coal miners, “St. Anne save me! If you do, I’ll become a monk.” 2

He subsequently withdrew from law school and entered an Augustinian monastery, a decision which surprised his friends and appalled his father. 2

His superiors selected him for the priesthood, ordaining him in 1507.

1 The word ‘Protestant’ is derived from the Latin ‘protestatio’ meaning ‘declaration’, which refers to the letter of protestation by Lutheran princes against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1529, which reaffirmed the edict of the Diet of Worms against the Reformation. Since then, the term Protestant has often been used as a general term to refer to Western Christianity that is not subject to Papal authority. 2 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy

Martin Luther

Despite diligently observing all the rules in the monastery, he did not find the peace he had expected. The more he studied, the more troubled he became. 2

In 1510 he decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome in hopes of finding the peace he needed. He performed the religious duties customary for a pious visitor, but was shocked by the worldliness of the Roman clergy. 2

Luther would later say he was glad he had seen Rome with his own eyes; otherwise, “I might have been afraid of being unjust to the Pope.”

After receiving his doctorate in Theology in 1512, Luther took a position as Theology Professor at the Wittenberg University ‘Leucorea’. He gave lectures on the Psalms, Romans, Galatians and Hebrews. 1

This time is characterised by Luther’s grappling with religious understanding. His decisive religious enlightenment is said to have come during his intensive study of the Letter to the Romans during which time he realized that people receive justice through the grace of God, not through good works: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’ ” (Romans 1:17) 1

1 2 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy

The just shall live by faith

In 1514 Luther became priest for Wittenberg’s City Church. 1

He came to realise that the practice of indulgences was unscriptural. People could buy indulgences for themselves, or for their loved ones in purgatory, in order to have salvation from punishment in the form of a parchment stamped with the seal of the pope. Indulgences could even be bought in advance.

The purchase of a letter of indulgence was essentially a spiritual shortcut, and the thinking went like this: Christ and the saints had built up an infinite reservoir of merits, and the pope could draw from this spiritual treasury - for a price. 2

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy 2 our_heritage/ luther

The just shall live by faith

Translation of this Indulgence as sold by John Tetzel : By the authority of all the saints, and in mercy towards you, I absolve you from all sins and misdeeds and remit all punishments for ten days.

Actual drafts of indulgence sermons from this time exist. One sermon reads: “You should know: whoever has confessed and is contrite and put alms into the box, as his confessor counsels him, will have all of his sins forgiven, and even after confession and after the jubilee year will acquire an indulgence on every day that he visits the cross and the altars, as if her were visiting the seven altars in the Church of St. Peter, where the perfect indulgence is granted. So why are you standing about idly? Run, all of you, for the salvation of your souls… Do you not hear the voices of your dead parents and other people, screaming and saying: ‘Have pity on me, have pity on me… for the hand of God has touched me’ (Job 19:21)? We are suffering severe punishments and pain [in purgatory], from which you could rescue us with a few alms, if only you would. Open your ears, because the father is calling to the son and the mother to the daughter.” 2

In 1517, Pope Leo X offered indulgences to fund the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. When the Dominican friar Johann Tetzel arrived in Saxony, his aggressive marketing practices in promoting this cause provoked Martin Luther to write his now famous 95 theses, protesting what he saw as the purchase and sale of salvation.

1 our_heritage/ luther 2 Heiko A. Oberman, “Luther, Man Between God and the Devil”, 1992.

Martin Luther - Indulgences

Luther posted his theses on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg 1 on October 31, 1517. 2

The 95 Theses not only denounced indulgences as worldly, but denied the Pope’s right to grant pardons on God’s behalf in the first place. The only thing indulgences guaranteed, Luther said, was an increase in profit and greed.

1 This church held one of Europe’s largest collections of holy relics collected by Frederick III. At that time veneration of relics was purported to allow relief from temporal punishment for sins in purgatory. Frederick had over 5,000 relics, purportedly including vials of the milk of the Virgin Mary, straw from the manger of Jesus, and the body of one of the innocents massacred by King Herod. 2 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy

Martin Luther - Indulgences

In thesis 28 Luther objected to a saying attributed to Tetzel: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs” insisting that, since forgiveness was God’s alone to grant, those who claimed that indulgences absolved buyers from all punishments and granted them salvation were in error. Christians, he said, must not slacken in following Christ on account of such false assurances. 1

As for Tetzel, when he read the theses, he crowed: “Within three weeks I shall have this heretic thrown into the fire.” But it was not to be. 2

The 95 Theses were quickly translated from Latin into German, printed, and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be aided by the printing press. Within 2 weeks, the theses had spread throughout Germany; within 2 months throughout Europe. 1

In the contest between Luther and Tetzel, the latter comes off very badly indeed. One hopes his indulgences bought him some consideration: within two years of locking horns with Luther, death would pretty effectively neutralize Tetzel. It is a measure of the man that Luther sent a letter of comfort as his old opponent lay dying. 2

1 Wikipedia 2 our_heritage/ luther

Martin Luther - Indulgences

Thesis 36: Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon. 1

Thesis 54: Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word. 1

In thesis 82 Luther argued that if the Pope were able to forgive sins for money, why not do so out of love.

To wit: - “Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial.” 1

1 Wikipedia

Martin Luther - Indulgences

In thesis 86 he suggested the Pope use his own wealth to fund his building projects:

Again: - “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?” 1

In thesis 90 he requests reasons, rather than force, as a response to these questions:

To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy. 1

1 Wikipedia

Martin Luther - Indulgences

St. Peter's Basilica, is located within the Vatican City in Rome. Construction on the present basilica, over the old 4th century Constantinian basilica, began in 1506 and was completed in 1626. St. Peter's is associated with the papacy, with the Reformation and with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo.

During 1518 and 1519, Luther defended his theology before his fellow Augustinians and publicly debated in Leipzig with the theologian Johann Eck, who had condemned his ideas. Meanwhile, church officials acted against him. The Saxon Dominican provincial charged him with heresy, and he was summoned to appear in Augsburg before the papal legate, Cardinal Cajetan. Refusing to recant, he fled to Wittenberg, seeking the protection of the elector Frederick III of Saxony. When the Wittenberg faculty sent a letter to Frederick declaring its solidarity with Luther, the elector refused to send Luther to Rome, where he would certainly meet imprisonment or death. 1

Finally on May 30th in 1519 when the Pope demanded an explanation, Luther wrote a summary and explanation of his theses to the Pope. While the Pope may have conceded some of the points, he did not like the challenge to his authority so he summoned Luther to Rome to answer these. At that point Frederick the Wise intervened. He did not want one of his subjects to be sent to Rome to be judged by Italians so he prevailed on the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who needed his support, to arrange a compromise. 2

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy 2 Wikipedia

Martin Luther

The bull of Pope Leo X, Exsurge Domine, issued on June 15, 1520, gave Luther 60 days to recant, and Decet Romanum Pontificem of Jan. 3, 1521, excommunicated him. Luther burned the bull publicly. 1

Summoned to appear before Charles V, Emperor of “the Holy Roman Empire” (Germany, Spain, Netherlands and Austria) at the Diet of Worms in April 1521, he was asked before the assembled secular and ecclesiastical rulers to recant. 1

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy

Martin Luther – “Here I Stand”

Johann Eck, speaking on behalf of the Empire as assistant of the Archbishop of Trier, presented Luther with copies of his writings laid out on a table, and asked him if the books were his, and whether he stood by their contents. He confirmed he was the author, but requested time to think about the answer to the second question. He prayed, consulted friends, and gave his response the next day: 1

His famous response was, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me, Amen.” 1 Wikipedia

Martin Luther – “Here I Stand”

Charles V allowed Luther, under the safe conduct promised, to return to Wittenberg. 1

Condemned by the emperor, Luther was spirited away by his prince, Frederick the Wise of Saxony, and kept in hiding at Wartburg Castle. 2

In 1520, Luther completed 3 celebrated works in which he stated his views. In his “Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation”, he invited the German princes to take the reform of the church into their own hands; in “A Prelude Concerning the Babylonian Captivity of the Church”, he attacked the papacy and the current theology of sacraments; and in “On the Freedom of a Christian”, he stated his position on justification and good works. 2

The world Luther departed was almost unrecognizable from that he had entered. The Peace of Augsburg granted freedom of worship to Protestants in 1555. Luther’s deathbed prayer: was “I thank You for revealing to me Your dear Son, Jesus Christ, in whom I believe, whom I have preached and confessed, whom I have loved and praised, yet whom the shameful Pope and all the godless revile, persecute, and scorn.”

1 The German Reformation by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon 2 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy

Martin Luther

Ulrich Zwingli

Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Swiss Reformation. At the time, Switzerland was not so much a single country as a confederacy of city-states called cantons.

The son of a prosperous peasant, Zwingli studied music, scholastic philosophy, and humanistic subjects in Vienna, Bern, and Basel. In 1506 he was ordained and assigned to the town of Glarus as a parish priest. Glarus then was well known as a center for recruiting mercenary soldiers for Europe’s armies. On 2 occasions Zwingli served as chaplain with Glarus troops during bloody fighting on foreign soil, and these experiences led him to denounce the mercenary system publicly. 2 In retaliation certain town officials conspired to make his position at Glarus untenable. In 1516 he accepted an appointment at Einsiedeln, southeast of Zürich. 1

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia 2 Through his efforts, the practice of hiring out Swiss soldiers as mercenaries was first curbed and finally stopped in Zurich and other nearby cantons.

Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

Ulrich Zwingli

During his ministry at Einsiedeln, Zwingli began to entertain doubts about certain church practices. In 1516 he read a Latin translation of the Greek NT published by the Dutch humanist Erasmus, which he later transcribed into notebooks and memorized verbatim. On the basis of these and other scriptural readings, Zwingli charged in sermons that church teachings and practice had diverged widely from the simple Christianity of the Holy Scriptures. Among the practices cited by Zwingli as unscriptural were the adoration of saints and relics and indulgences. 1

His affirmations of scriptural authority won him popular repute, and in 1519, he was appointed priest at the Gross Münster (German, ‘Great Cathedral’) in Zürich.1 1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encycl., Microsoft Encarta 98 Encycl.

Gross Münster (left) in Zürich

Ulrich Zwingli

Zwingli quickly attracted large audiences to the cathedral by expounding the original Greek and Hebrew Scriptures chapter by chapter and book by book, beginning with the Gospel of Matthew. These oral translations of the original Scriptures broke sharply with church tradition. Previously priests had based their sermons on interpretations of the Vulgate and on the writings of the Church Fathers. 1

After reading the writings of his contemporary, Martin Luther, he was heartened by Luther’s stand against the German hierarchy, and in 1520 persuaded the Zürich council to forbid all religious teachings without foundation in the Scriptures. Pope Adrian VI, angered by Zwingli’s behavior, then forbade him the pulpit and asked the Zürich council to repudiate him as a heretic. In 1523, Zwingli appeared before the council and asserted the supremacy of the Scripture over church dogma, attacked the worship of images, relics, and saints, and denounced the sacramental view of the Eucharist and enforced celibacy as well. 1

After deliberation, the council upheld Zwingli by withdrawing the Zürich canton from the jurisdiction of the bishop of Constance; it also affirmed its previous ban against preaching not founded on the Scriptures. By taking these steps the council officially adopted the Reformation. 1

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia

John Calvin (1509-1564)

Calvin was born in Noyon, France and received formal instruction for the priesthood at the Collège de la Marche and the Collège de Montaigue, branches of the University of Paris. Encouraged by his father to study law instead of theology, Calvin also attended universities at Orléans and Bourges. Along with several friends he grew to appreciate the humanistic 1 and reforming movements, and he undertook studies in the Greek Bible.

When his father died in 1531, Calvin returned immediately to the study of the classics and theology.

Between 1526 and 1531, he had a distinctly Protestant conversion. “God,” he wrote much later, “at last turned my course in another direction by the secret rein of his providence.” 2

Calvin wrote many influential commentaries on books of the Bible. 2

1 Not to be confused with Secular Humanism which rejects theistic religious belief and belief in the existence of a supernatural world. 2 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia

John Calvin

John Calvin

His position in France became precarious when in 1533 his friend Nicholas Cop, rector of the University of Paris, gave a public address supporting reform. Eventually Calvin was forced to flee in 1535 to Basel in Switzerland. 1

There he produced a small book about his new reformed beliefs. It was designed to offer a brief summary of essential Christian belief and to defend French Protestants, who were then undergoing serious persecution, as true heirs of the early church. 1

This first edition of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) contained only 6 brief sections. By the last edition (1559), it had grown to 79 full chapters. 1

The Institutes presents with unmatched clarity a vision of God in his majesty, of Christ as prophet, priest, and king, of the Holy Spirit as the giver of faith, of the Bible as the final authority, and of the church as the holy people of God. Its doctrine of predestination is Calvin’s deduction from his belief in human sinfulness and God’s sovereign mercy in Christ. 1

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia

John Calvin

After the publication of the Institutes, Calvin fully intended to devote his life to further study. On a trip to Strasbourg in July 1536, however, he was forced to detour through Geneva where he hoped to stay only one night. The fiery Guillaume Farel, who had labored long for the reform of that city, had other plans. Threatening Calvin with a curse from God, Farel persuaded him to remain. 1

The next 2 years were difficult, as Calvin’s rigorous plans for reform of church and city clashed with Geneva’s long-standing moral indifference. In 1538, Calvin and Farel were expelled from the city. 1

Calvin proceeded to Strasbourg where he spent the most enjoyable years of his life as pastor of the city’s French congregation. While in Strasbourg, Calvin produced an influential commentary on the Book of Romans, oversaw the preparation of a liturgy and a psalm book that he would use later in Geneva, and married the widow Idelette de Bure. 1

In 1541 Genevans prevailed upon Calvin to return and lead them again in reforming the church. He remained in that city for the rest of his life, except for brief journeys in the interest of church reform. His wife died in 1549, and he did not remarry. 1

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia

The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. It was, at the outset, more of a political than a theological dispute, but the political differences between Rome and England nonetheless allowed growing theological disputes to come to the fore.

King Henry VIII was initially a staunch Catholic and even aspired to become Holy Roman Emperor. He fancied himself as a ‘theologian’ and even wrote a book decrying the excesses of Martin Luther. For this act of piety, a grateful pope conferred on him the title “Defender of the Faith”. Ironically Henry’s own ‘excesses’ would later indirectly serve to export Luther's Reformation around the globe.

English reformation

King Henry VIII (1491-1547)

Although he was responsible for England’s breakaway from the Catholic Church, Henry’s motives were somewhat sinister. However the Lord sometimes uses the evil intentions of men to bring about His glory. Henry had in fact, requested that the Pope permit him to divorce his Spanish wife Catherine of Aragon (or more correctly an annulment) so that he was free to marry his mistress.

The Pope refused although, like Henry, his motives were not entirely pure as “the divorce was a political impossibility. Catherine’s nephew was Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor and the most powerful ruler in Europe, and the pope would not take sides against Charles.” 1

King Henry responded by marrying his mistress anyway, renouncing Roman Catholicism and taking England out from under Rome’s religious control. He confiscated church lands and promoted religious reformers to power. The Bible was translated into English, priests were allowed to marry, and the shrines of saints were destroyed.

The “Church of England” (also known as the Anglican or Episcopalian Church), still kept an Episcopal form of church governance. It’s hierarchy had the English monarch as the supreme head, although the Archbishop of Canterbury was the religious head.

1 Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia

English reformation

Henry still “prevented the more fervent of these Protestants from making radical changes to religious doctrine by instituting the Six Articles of 1539. This document outlined the tenets of the Church of England, all of which were Catholic in nature.” 1

Henry VIII was succeeded by his 9-year- old son, Edward VI. Edward’s entire rule was mediated through a council of regency, as he never reached maturity.

His reign was marked by radical Protestant reforms. All images in churches were to be dismantled; stained glass, shrines, statues were defaced or destroyed; roods 2 and often their lofts and screens were cut down.

1 Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2 A common feature in late medieval church architecture. It is typically an ornate screen, constructed of wood, stone or wrought iron. It divides the chancel (the area with the main altar) from the nave (the main part of the church for the congregation).

English reformation

King Edward VI (1537 – 1553)

Bells were taken down; vestments were prohibited and either burned or sold. Church plate was to be melted down or sold and the requirement of the clergy to be celibate was lifted; processions were banned; ashes and palms were prohibited. Chantries, means by which the saying of masses for the dead were endowed, were abolished completely.

In 1550, stone altars were exchanged for wooden communion tables, a very public break with the past, as it changed the look and focus of church interiors.

Less visible, but still influential, was the new ordinal which provided for Protestant pastors rather than Catholic priests.

In 1552 the prayer book was replaced by a much more radical prayer book which altered the shape of the service, so as to remove any sense of sacrifice. Edward’s Parliament also repealed his father’s Six Articles.

The enforcement of the new liturgy did not always take place without a fight. In some places there was open rebellion. Thus, when Edward died in July 1553 and the Duke of Northumberland attempted to have the Protestant Lady Jane Grey made Queen, the unpopularity of the changes gave Mary the opportunity to have herself proclaimed Queen.

English reformation

Mary I was the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. She is remembered for restoring England to Roman Catholicism. In the process, she had almost 300 religious dissenters burned at the stake, resulting in her being called ‘Bloody Mary’.

Edward’s religious laws were abolished by Mary’s first Parliament. Church doctrine was restored to the form it had taken in the 1547 Six Articles. Mary also persuaded Parliament to repeal the Protestant religious laws passed by Henry VIII.

The Revival of the Heresy Acts were passed in 1554. Among those martyred was Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Numerous Protestant leaders were executed including John Rogers, Laurence Saunders, Rowland Taylor and John Hooper, the Bishop of Gloucester. The persecution lasted for almost 4 years. John Foxe estimates in his ‘Book of Martyrs’ that 284 were executed for their faith. Many rich Protestants chose exile, and around 800 left the country.

English reformation

Queen Mary I (1516 – 1558)

Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. In 1558, Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister, during whose reign she had been imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.

Elizabeth’s greatest legacy was the spirit of compromise that infused her version of the Church of England. She managed to please Catholics by retaining several important aspects of Catholicism and also managed to please moderate Calvinists who wanted all traces of the Roman church to be expunged. She effected this by allowing English Calvinists (called ‘Puritans’ because they wanted to purify the church from all Roman influences) to participate in Parliament and to set up semiautonomous congregations that practiced Calvinist doctrine but still recognized the Queen as the head of the church. 1

1 ~dee/ reform/ England - Richard Hooker

English reformation

Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603)

John Knox

John Knox is considered to be the greatest reformer of Scotland. Dr. Charles D. Brokenshire, wrote to his nephew, “Scotland has erected no monument on the grave of John Knox, for Scotland is his monument. He was courageous and true. Dear nephew, may you be such a man.”

“God is my witness, that I never preached Christ Jesus in contempt of any man”, declared Knox at the height of his struggle against all manner of tyranny and corruption. He had been accused of disdaining opponents when in fact he simply feared none of them. He could have been afraid. When Knox was only 15 Patrick Hamilton, a young scholar newly enthralled by Luther, had been burned at the stake. Knox would never forget. 1

1 Victor Shepherd

John Knox (1515-1572)

John Knox

Under the preaching of George Wishart, Knox was enlisted in the cause of the Gospel in which he was to spend his life. Wishart was a gentle preacher and teacher of the reformed faith. “Suspected of heresy because he read the Greek New Testament with his students,” he had fled his native Scotland, studied in England at Cambridge, in Switzerland under the influence of Zwingli, and in Germany. He returned to effect reform -of church and state - at home. 1

Having preached the evangelical doctrine throughout Scotland, doctrine which according to his trial included salvation by faith, the Scriptures as the only test of truth, the denial of purgatory and confession to a priest, and the rejection of the Roman Catholic mass as blasphemous idolatry, Wishart was arrested by Cardinal Beaton… tried, and burned on the 18th anniversary of Hamilton’s death (1546). Knox was eager to accompany his noble friend, but the elder Wishart refused, saying, “One is sufficient for one sacrifice.” 1

Mary, Queen of Scots, was a cousin of Elizabeth’s and the next in line for the English throne. Mary was a committed Catholic, but ruled over Scotland which had become fiercely Calvinist. 2

1 1975, Bob Jones University 2 ~dee/ reform/ England - Richard Hooker

John Knox

John Knox, in his “History of the Reformation in Scotland”, preserves the record of a total of 5 ‘conversations’ with the queen. Mary erred in almost every calculation. She attempted to argue with one who was a master of disputation. She attempted to restore the Roman mass (in her private chapel) which Parliament had outlawed. She flattered and tried to win Knox with tears and pleadings. She openly lived a life of… suspected adulteries. She married her second husband’s presumed murderer. 1

In response to Knox’s imprecatory prayers,2 Mary Queen of Scots is reputed to have said: “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe.” In response to the rising resistance of the Scottish Reformers, Mary fled Scotland…3

Catholic extremists in England understood that Elizabeth could spell the end of any hopes of a Catholic revival in England, so they began to plot Elizabeth’s assassination. Mary, for her part, feeling justified by the Pope’s excommunication of Elizabeth, foolishly took part in several of these plots. Elizabeth eventually brought her to trial and condemned her, reluctantly, to death. 4 1 1975, Bob Jones University. 2 Imprecatory prayer is a last resort appeal to God for justice. 3 Progress of Nations, ed. Charles H. Sylvester 4 ~dee/ reform/ England - Richard Hooker

The Jesuit order was founded in 1534 by a former knight, Ignatius Loyola. The Jesuits were religious activists, but they operated with military precision. Their actions were not governed by the Bible, but by a list of rules created by Ignatius Loyola. The Jesuits gained wide discretionary powers to convert ‘heretics’ to Catholicism.

The Centuries of Wars began. Wars started by Roman Catholic Kings urged on by the Pope and Jesuits for the purpose of crushing Protestantism:

The war on the German Protestants (1566-1609)

War on the Protestants of the Netherlands (1566-1609)

Huguenot Wars in France (1562-1598) 1

Philip’s attempt against England (1588)

Thirty Years War (1618-1648)

1 Deaths estimated at 2 to 4 million by Robert J. Knecht in “The French Religious Wars, 1562-1598”

Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)

The counter-Reformation

Huguenots, historically known as the French Calvinists, were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France.

Above all, Huguenots became known for their fiery criticisms of worship as performed in the Roman Catholic Church, in particular the focus on ritual and what seemed an obsession with death and the dead. They believed the ritual, images, saints, pilgrimages, prayers, and hierarchy of the Catholic Church did not help anyone toward redemption. 1

They saw Christian faith as something to be expressed in a strict and godly life, in obedience to Biblical laws, out of gratitude for God’s mercy.1

Like other Protestants of the time, they felt that the Roman church needed radical cleansing of its impurities, and that the Pope represented a worldly kingdom, which sat in mocking tyranny over the things of God, and was ultimately doomed. 1

Violently opposed to the Catholic Church, the Huguenots attacked images, monasticism, and church buildings. 1

1 Wikipedia

The Huguenots

Catherine de Medici, a relative of Pope Clement VII, used the occasion of a political marriage to assassinate the Huguenot leader, Admiral Coligny.

The marriage was under the guise of making peace between Protestants and Catholics. This treachery ensured that thousands of Huguenots converged on Paris for the wedding celebrations.

Catherine persuaded her weak son Charles IX that the Huguenots, were planning a takeover of France and that they should be exterminated.

In what became known as the St. Bartholomew’s massacre (August 1572), over the next couple of days Huguenots were hunted down and killed throughout Paris. Estimates of the Paris fatality range widely, from 1000 to 8000.

The Huguenots

Catherine de Medici (1519-1589)

The French humanist Voltaire called the carnage of St. Bartholomew’s “a crime without equal in the annals of man’s wickedness” 1 and wrote, “Catherine de Medici was congratulated by the Catholic powers, and Pope Gregory XIII commanded bonfires to be lit in celebration and a commemorative medal to be struck.” 1

The slaughter of Huguenots followed nationwide. Once again estimates vary widely, ranging from 30,000 to 100,000. At least 250,000 French Huguenots fled to countries (including South Africa) 2 where they could enjoy religious freedom.

This was to be an almost fatal blow destroying the Protestant movement in France.

1 Voltaire: Treatise on Tolerance 2 Most settled in an area now known as Franschhoek (French Corner)

The Huguenots

François Dubois: An Eyewitness Account of the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre

Harsh persecution of Protestants by the Spanish government of Phillip II contributed to a desire for independence in the provinces, which led to the Eighty Years’ War and eventually, the separation of the largely Protestant Dutch Republic from the Catholic-dominated Southern Netherlands, the present-day Belgium. 2

The Reformation in the Netherlands, unlike in many other countries, was not initiated by the rulers of the Seventeen Provinces, but instead by multiple popular movements, which in turn were bolstered by the arrival of Protestant refugees from other parts of the continent. While the Anabaptist movement enjoyed popularity in the region in the early decades of the Reformation, Calvinism, in the form of the Dutch Reformed Church,1 became the dominant Protestant faith in the country from the 1560s onward. 2

1 ‘Reformed’ churches trace their doctrinal roots back to Calvin 2 Wikipedia

Counter Reformation: Netherlands

Phillip II (1527-1598)

Counter Reformation: France

By 1562 there were approximately 2 million Protestants and 1250 Reformed churches in France. At one time, most of the nobles and about a third of the population in France were Protestants (or Huguenots.) 1

Vicious Persecution of Protestant Christians by the Roman Catholics (such as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572 in France when over 22,000 were murdered and the slaughter of over 100,000 Protestants in the Low Countries between 1567-1573) shattered Protestantism in France, Belgium, Austria, Spain, Italy and other Catholic controlled nations. 1

Many of the survivors fled to North America and South Africa - spreading the Reformed faith to those countries. 1

The Reformed Faith was firmly established and strengthened in Germany, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and later in the North American Colonies and South Africa. 1

1 Dr. Peter Hammond - Christian Action Network

Huguenot monument, Franshoek, SA

Reformation & Counter Reformation in Europe. Protestant lands in blue, Catholic in olive.

Counter Reformation


The Gunpowder Plot, the 3rd Catholic conspiracy against his person in 3 years, forced James I to reconsider his tolerant policy towards English Catholics… In May 1606, Parliament passed an act which could require any citizen to take an Oath of Allegiance, entailing a denial of the pope’s authority over the king. James believed that the Oath was merely concerned with civil obedience, a secular transaction between king and subject; but it provoked opposition in Rome and in Catholic countries, where any denial of papal authority was deemed heretical. In early 1606, the Venetian ambassador reported James as saying: “I do not know upon what they found this cursed doctrine that they are permitted to plot against the lives of princes”. The Oath did not make James a persecutor of Catholics; he insisted no blood be spilled and that subversive Jesuits and seminary priests should simply be asked to leave the country. He regarded persecution, he wrote to Cecil, “as one of the infallible notes of a false church”. In practice, James proved lenient towards Catholic laymen who took the Oath… 1

1 Wikipedia

Counter Reformation: England

James I of England (1566 – 1625)

The Puritan Revolution

King Charles I, the tyrant who had long persecuted the English Puritans by having their ears cut off and their noses slit for defying his attempts to force episcopacy on their churches, finally clashed with Parliament over a long ordeal with new and revolutionary ideas. The Puritans… finally led a civil war against the King and his Cavaliers. 1

The chief leader of the Puritan Revolution in England was Oliver Cromwell, a soldier and statesman. He joined with the Puritans to preserve Protestantism and the law against the tyranny of King Charles I. 2

Cromwell had never been trained in war, but from the very beginning he showed consummate genius as a general… His regiment was nicknamed ‘Ironsides’ and was never beaten once, although they fought greatly outnumbered - at times three to one. 1

It was an army the likes of which hadn’t been seen since ancient Israel. They would recite the Westminster Confession and march into battle singing the Psalms of David striking terror into the heart of the enemy… His discipline created the only body of regular troops on either side who preached, prayed, paid fines for profanity and drunkenness, and charged the enemy singing hymns - the strangest abnormality in an age when every vice imaginable characterized soldiers and mercenaries. 1

1 Progress of Nations, vol. IV 2 Student Encyclopedia Britannica

Oliver Cromwell

In the meantime, Charles I invited an Irish Catholic army to his aid, an action for which he was tried for high treason and beheaded shortly after the war. 1

The Parliament assumed power but after proving to be corrupt, Cromwell was made Lord Protector.

Cromwell maintained a large degree of tolerance for rival denominations. He stood for a national church without bishops. The ministers might be Presbyterian, Independent or Baptist. Dissenters were allowed to meet in gathered churches and even Roman Catholics and Quakers were tolerated. He worked for reform of morals and the improvement of education. He strove constantly to make England a genuinely Christian nation and she enjoyed a brief ‘Golden Age’ in her history. 1

He was strongly opposed to severe punishments for minor crimes, saying: “to see men lose their lives for petty matters… is a thing that God will reckon for.” For him murder, treason, and rebellion alone were subject to capital punishment. 2

In spite of resistance from some members of his council Cromwell readmitted Jews into the country. 2

1 Progress of Nations, vol. IV 2 Encyclopedia Britannica

Cromwell was driven by highly idealistic ideas of religious freedom, and republican principles, but was utterly impatient with the obstructionism, inertia, and general sinfulness of the human beings he actually had to deal with. His government was respected but not loved. His efforts to reduce vice and the ‘sinfulness’ of the English people were deeply resented by various factions of irresolute sinners, and on his death there was widespread desire to restore the corrupt and inefficient monarchy rather than to bear any longer the efficient and upright puritans. On Cromwell’s death in 1659, one of his generals negotiated with Charles II to restore the monarchy, and two years later, his body was exhumed, hanged and beheaded by vengeful royalists. 1


Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell

Early in the Reformation, French Reformer, William Farel, travelled across the Alps and recruited the Waldensians into the mainstream of the Reformation. 1

The persecution of the Waldensians intensified in the 17th Century and in 1655, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, declared a Solemn Fast on behalf of the suffering Waldensian believers. The Protector threatened to send the English Navy to the Mediterranean to strike a blow on behalf of the Protestant cause, and threatened military intervention unless the persecution ceased. Oliver Cromwell’s secretary, John Milton, wrote a famous sonnet on the Massacres at Piedmont, and Cromwell himself headed a campaign to raise support for the Waldensians with a personal gift of 2,000 pounds. He urged their cause so whole-heartedly that over half a million pounds was donated for the suffering Waldensians. 1

Cromwell’s vigorous intercession, and threat of mobilising English naval and military action, brought the persecution of the Waldensians to a close. The Waldensians survive to this day, the oldest Evangelical church, with a heritage of over 800 years of faithful proclamation of the Gospel and firm resistance against tyranny. 1

1 Source: (Dr. Peter Hammond)


The Bible teaches that mankind is born in a state of sin. This is a consequence of ‘original sin’, a sinful nature which we inherited from our first parents.

We are born sinners as a result of ‘the fall of man’ through the first sin of Adam and Eve in Eden.

Adam is the ‘federal head’ of the entire human race and we all inherit our sinful nature from him.

Rom 5:15 …the many died by the trespass of the one man… 16 The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation… 18 just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men … 19 through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners…

Original sin

In the 5th century, a debate that affected the understanding of grace in Christianity took place between Pelagius and Augustine of Hippo.

Pelagius (c. 354 - c. 420/ 440) was a British monk who denied the doctrine of original sin inherited from Adam, which was articulated by Augustine of Hippo. His doctrine became known as Pelagianism.

Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that our will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. Thus, Adam simply “set a bad example” for his offspring. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus as “setting a good example” for the rest of humanity (thus counteracting Adam’s bad example).

In short, men have full control of their own salvation. Religion’s purpose is to teach us virtue, from which we can expect reward from God. By great efforts, it is possible for those in the flesh to achieve moral perfection.

Pelagianism does not explain why Jesus Christ had to die for anyone’s sins; if men can redeem themselves by their own efforts, atonement by Jesus on the Cross was at best a vague sort of moral example.


Pelagianism was opposed by Augustine, who taught that a person’s salvation comes solely through a free gift, the grace of God, and that no person could save themselves by their own works.

The taint of original sin in fact did extinguish God’s grace in men’s souls; no matter how righteously they conducted themselves, their virtues could never make them worthy of the infinite holiness of God. Men can no more endow themselves with grace than an empty glass can fill itself.

While we may have ‘free will’ in the sense that we can choose our course of conduct, we nevertheless lack true freedom to avoid sin, for sin is inherent in each choice we make. It is only by God’s sovereign choice to extend His grace to us that salvation is possible.

Mainly through the influence of Augustine, Pelagianism was condemned as a heresy at several local synods, including the Council of Diospolis and the Councils of Carthage.


Before the Reformation, the ‘yeast’ had well and truly worked through the dough. The Church had returned to a view that resembled Pelagianism.

Rather than God’s property to be offered at His sole discretion, grace had become a sort of spiritual currency with the Church as its banker.

Believers acquired grace by participating in the Church’s sacraments. 1

In addition to sanctifying grace, merit was earned by good works; by this merit, believers could earn the right to rewards from God.

1 The definition of a sacrament is that it is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, that imparts spiritual grace through Christ. The 2 most widely accepted sacraments are Baptism and the Eucharist (Communion). The Western Church at this stage recognized 7 Sacraments, the other 5 being Confirmation, Confession, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage and Holy Orders. The latter refers to those who have been ordained as a bishop, priest or deacon (etc) in Apostolic Succession.

View of salvation: pre-Reformation

Conversely, sins reduced one’s merit before God and incurred a debt to Him in the divine economy.

Serious sins not only removed merit, but also extinguished sanctifying grace in the baptized believer’s soul, which could be restored by the sacrament of penance (confession). These sins are mortal or deadly sins.

Less serious or venial sins, incurred loss of merit.

Believers whose accounts were ‘overdrawn’ at the final accounting went to hell; believers without enough merit for heaven went to purgatory, where they could work off the debt they owed to God.

Fortunately, some saints achieved so much merit in their lifetimes on earth that they got into heaven with some to spare. This treasury of surplus merit was at the Church’s disposal. Through indulgences the Church could offer the excess merit in its treasury to offset the deficits in merit suffered by its penitent sinners. Pope Clement VI proclaimed this to be a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church in 1343.

View of salvation: pre-Reformation

Luther was well acquainted with the scholastic theology of his day, but he made the study of the Bible, especially the epistles of Paul, the centre of his work. Luther found that his teachings diverged increasingly from the traditional beliefs of the Roman church. 1

His studies led him to the conclusion that Christ was the sole mediator between God and man and that forgiveness of sin and salvation are effected by God’s grace alone and are received by faith alone on the part of man. This point of view turned him against scholastic theology, which had emphasized man’s role in his own salvation, and the necessity of the church for salvation. 1

Herein consisted the essential break between Luther and the medieval church. He did not deny the role of the church as an instrument of God; what he denied was the widely held belief that salvation was impossible outside of it. 1

He saw the emphasis on penitential exercises and other good works as unhealthy and even useless for one who could see himself as a sinner justified by God himself. 1

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy

View of salvation: Reformation

Luther taught that men were helpless and without a plea before God’s justice, and their acts of piety were utterly inadequate before His infinite holiness. 1

Were God only just, and not merciful, everyone would go to Hell, because everyone, even the best of us, deserves to go to Hell. 1

Our inability to achieve salvation by our own effort suggests that even our best intention is somehow tainted by our sinful nature. This doctrine is sometimes called total depravity… 1

As opposed to the treasury of grace which believers can make withdrawals from, in Lutheranism salvation becomes a declaration of spiritual bankruptcy, in which penitents acknowledge the inadequacy of their own resources and trust only in God to save them.1 1 Wikipedia

Bondage of the will & total depravity

Luther considered his book “The Bondage of the Will”, to be his greatest work, apart from translating the Bible.

Paul explained total depravity and the bondage of the will as follows in Romans 7:14-25, “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The bondage of the will

What is grace?

The NT word that is usually translated ‘grace’ is in Greek charis (χαρις). which literally means “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness”. 1

In Christianity, divine grace refers to the sovereign favour of God for humankind — especially in regard to salvation — irrespective of actions (‘deeds’), earned worth, or proven goodness. 1

GRACE = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

John 1:16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Luther deplored the idea of a cruelly judgmental Heavenly Father quite as much as his severe terrestrial one. Why, he wondered, would a God of Love be more inclined to condemn than to show tenderness and mercy? “We have made of Christ a task-master far more severe than Moses.”

1 Wikipedia

The doctrine of Grace

Like many others in his time, Luther was terrified of a God who wanted vengeance on sinners. He was obsessed with trying to please God. The medieval church taught that a person had to earn God’s acceptance. 1

Luther kept his monastic vows with an intensity that went far beyond the already strict requirements. He wore himself out with prayer and fasting. He wore out his superiors with his excessive and regular confessions of his sins (often taking up hours on end to list each and every individual sin).

He submitted reverently to all ascetic ‘severities’, said 25 Paternosters with the Ave Maria at the 7 appointed hours of prayer… 2

Luther had written after his conversion, “If ever a monk got to heaven by monkery, I would have gotten there.” Luther desired to attain heaven at whatever cost. He would do anything to appease the roaring conscience of sin that hovered over him, and the dreadful wrath of a God who sat in judgment of his every deed. 2

Luther wrote, “If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with vigils, prayers, readings and other work.”

1 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada 2 The German Reformation by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

Not by works

But even these superhuman efforts did not bring peace to his tormented soul. When he said his first mass, he was “utterly stupefied and terror-stricken” at the thought of standing before the Almighty God. 1

On Luther’s pilgrimage to Rome in 1510, we have the story of the 28 stairs at the Lateran Church, which led to a room filled with relics of the saints. These were supposedly the same stairs Jesus walked on when He appeared before Pilate, and angels had miraculously moved “Pilate’s Staircase” to Rome. Pope Leo IV decreed an indulgence of 9 years out of purgatory for every step — if you went up on your knees saying the Pater Noster (“Lord’s Prayer” in Latin ) on each step. Luther, whose parents were still living, wanted to release the soul of Grandfather Heine from the flames, so he was saying the prayers and even kissing each step as he went. 2

When Luther got to the top of the steps he asked himself a question: “Who can know if it is so?” 3

1 Glimpses of Christian History 2 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy 3 Richard Marius, Martin Luther: The Christian between God and Death, Harvard University Press, 1999, 83.

Not by works

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Through his laborious studies of the Scriptures, Luther came to see that the guilt that consumed him could not be lifted by more religion, and the God he dreaded so much was not the God that Christ has revealed. Shooting forth from the book of Romans (1:17), another thunderbolt crossed his path: “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…” 1

1 Glimpses of Christian History

Not by works

According to Luther only the unearned, unmerited grace of God can save anyone. No one can have a claim of entitlement to God’s grace, and it is only by His generosity that salvation is even possible.

Grace, then, is God’s initiative and choice to make a path of salvation available for men. 1

Grace is an attitude of God towards mankind by which He provides a benefit, without consideration of merit. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in the fact that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:3,4. 1

It is by God’s Grace (unmerited favor), therefore, that salvation is granted to man, on the condition that we put our faith (piðstiv, meaning belief or confidence, in other words, trust) in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that is, belief that Jesus is from God, Jesus is the Messiah (Messiðav, anointed one, also the Hebrew word for Christ) and that his death on the cross has the power to take away our sins, thus making us blameless in the sight of God. 1

1 Wikipedia

Not by works

Not by works

2 Tim 1:8-9 …God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

Rom 11:5-6 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Peter, addressing Jewish believers, says of Gentile believers, “He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Acts 15:9-11

Eph 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works…

However the same passage goes on to show that works are a fruit of the convert:

Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Not by works

Titus 3:3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Even Abraham received the promise by grace through faith:

Rom 4:13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

Not by works

Paul wrote the epistle to the Galatian churches explicitly warning them about being caught up in trying to earn their salvation by works and external acts like circumcision.

Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

We earn wages, but a gift is free:

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Not by works

Gal 2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? 15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.17 If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Not by works

As Luther studied and taught, he gradually began to realize that the NT teaches that grace cannot be earned. God freely accepts people. This became the doctrine of ‘justification by grace through faith.’ 1

God is not obliged to save anyone; men cannot make themselves good enough to earn their way into Heaven on their own initiative, or give rise to a duty on God’s part to save them. It is only through the redemption bought by Christ’s sacrifice that anyone is saved, and the path of salvation for men lies in participating in that redemption. 2

Rom 3:21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

1 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada 2 Wikipedia

Not by works

Eph 2:2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…

Rom 5:15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

Eph 1:6 … his glorious grace, which he has freely given us…

A gift

Jesus taught the concept of grace. He told parables that underlined that grace was God’s to give, God’s sole prerogative, and that it was freely offered. 1

Parables such as well known story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 contain the teachings of Jesus on grace.

A son demands the family fortune and subsequently wastes it, then returns home expecting little in the way of good treatment. However the father welcomes him handsomely, despite the objections of his other son who had stayed at home and served dutifully.

1 Wikipedia

A gift

Similarly, the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Matthew 20:1-16, tell of an employer (who represents God) who hires some workers early in the day, some later, and some an hour before quitting time, then pays each of them the same amount. When the workers who worked all day complain, the employer’s explanation is, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt. 20:15-16)

Like the wages of the labourers in the parable, grace is God’s gift at God’s sole discretion.

There is a common thread in these parables of Jesus: the grace of God is something that upsets settled human notions about merit, about what is deserved, and what is due as recompense.

A gift

If salvation were achieved by works (any human effort that intends earning), men could take pride in their efforts toward holiness, and God’s gift of grace would be diminished in contrast to man’s efforts.

However, salvation is a gift so there is no room for boasting:

Eph 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

1 Cor 15:9-10 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

Rom 3:24-28 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus… Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

No boasting

you are not under law, but under grace.

Rom 6:6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Is grace a license to sin?

Jude 4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about a long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Rom 6:1-2 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age

Rom 3:24 … and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus …30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

If grace is simply a reusable “Get Out Of Jail Free” card, then the gospel will be reduced to a new type of indulgence system, except that you don’t have to pay.

Is grace a license to sin?

1 John 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

Good works are something the believers should undertake out of gratitude towards their Saviour; but they are not necessary for salvation and cannot earn anyone salvation; there is no room for the notion of ‘merit’ in Luther’s doctrine of redemption. (There may, however, be degrees of reward for the redeemed in Heaven.) 1

1 Wikipedia

Is grace a license to sin?

James shows that faith without works is dead. By ‘works’ James includes both acts of charity, and righteousness according to the code of laws. Without these things, claiming to have ‘faith’ is a sham. Grace must be something that steers the Christian to avoid sin and practice charity. Without these signs, it seems unlikely that grace was ever there.

James 1:26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James speaks of works, not as the cause, but as a result of salvation.

James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder… 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone…26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Is grace a license to sin?

The NT exhibits a tension between two aspects of grace: the idea that grace is from God and sufficient to cover any sin, and the idea that grace does not free man from his responsibility to behave rightly. 1

Many parables of Jesus preach grace broad enough to forgive any sin, and to be available regardless of the seeming unworthiness of its recipient. Examples of this included the parable of the Prodigal son and lost sheep. However, Jesus also said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

1 Wikipedia

The purpose of the Law

Luther maintained that God interacts with human beings in two ways—through the law and through the Gospel.

The law represents God’s demands—as expressed, for example, in the Ten Commandments. All people, regardless of their religious convictions, have some degree of access to the law through their consciences and through the ethical traditions of their culture, although their understanding of it is always distorted by human sin. The law has two functions. It enables human beings to maintain some order in their world, their communities, and their own lives despite the profound alienation from God, the world, their neighbors, and ultimately themselves that is caused by original sin. In addition, the law makes human beings aware of their need for the forgiveness of sins and thus leads them to Christ.

God also interacts with human beings through the Gospel, the good news of God’s gift of his Son for the salvation of the human race. This proclamation demands nothing but acceptance on the part of the individual. Indeed, Luther argued that theology had gone wrong precisely when it began to confuse law and Gospel (God’s demand and God’s gift) by claiming that human beings can in some way merit that which can only be the unconditional gift of God's grace.

References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy

The purpose of the Law

The law makes us conscious of sin:

Rom 3:20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Rom 7:7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”

The law is instrumental in leading us to Christ:

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ… (NASB)

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ…(KJV)

Gal 3:24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. (NIV)

The purpose of the Law

But the law cannot save us, because of our sinful nature:

Rom 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man…

The passage goes on to show that:

Rom 8:4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Rom 3:31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

The purpose of the Law

Jesus becomes the ‘federal head’ of those who put their trust in Him.

Rom 5:15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Last Adam

Q: How did we become sinners?

A: By being born into Adam’s family

Q: How are we saved?

A: By being born “again” into the Last Adam’s (Jesus’) family.

1 Pet 1:23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

John 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

Last Adam

Q: How can we be born again? Nicodemus asked this same question, “How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4)

A: By believing (putting our trust in Him, not just acknowledging His existence)

John 1:10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Accepting Augustine’s concern for legal justification in salvation, Luther considered believers not so much made righteous, but covered by Christ’s righteousness.

Acknowledging that they have no power to make themselves righteous, the penalty for their sins is discharged because Jesus has already paid for it with His blood.

His righteousness is given to those who belong to him.

Last Adam

Grace is the distinguishing feature of the New Covenant:

John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

By God’s grace: Jesus took our punishment.

Heb 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

By God’s grace: we are justified (God’s act of declaring or making a sinner righteous before God).

Rom 3:24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus

Titus 3:7 so that, having been justified by his grace…

By God’s grace: we have forgiveness and redemption (purchasing back something previously sold).

Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

The benefits of God’s grace

By God’s grace: we have peace with God

Rom 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

By God’s grace: we can approach God with confidence

Heb 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

By God’s grace: we have eternal life & are heirs

Titus 3:7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

This is the gospel (good news):

Acts 20:24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace

The benefits of God’s grace


Appendix 1: Martin Luther

Appendix 2: Ulrich Zwingli

Appendix 3: John Calvin

Appendix 4: The Spanish Armada

Appendix 5: John Knox

Luther complained that he felt “more acted upon than acting… I cannot control my own life… I am driven into the middle of the storm… It was the love of truth that drove me to enter this labyrinth and stir up six hundred minotaurs”.

“Peace if possible, but truth at any rate.” – Luther

“Unless with all your hearts you abandon the Papacy, you cannot save your souls. The reign of the Pope is so opposed to the law of Christ and the life of the Christian, that it will be safer to roam the desert and never see the face of man, than abide under the rule of Antichrist. I warn every man to look to his soul's welfare, lest by submitting to the Pope he deny Christ. The time is come when Christians must choose between death here and death hereafter. For my own part, I choose death here. I cannot lay such a burden upon my soul as to hold my peace in this matter: I must look to the great reckoning. I abominate the Babylonian pest. As long as I live I will proclaim the truth. If the wholesale destruction of souls throughout Christendom cannot be prevented, at least I shall labor to the utmost of my power to rescue my own countrymen from the bottomless pit of perdition.” 1 - Martin Luther


Appendix 1: Martin Luther

I have conscientiously translated the New Testament into German to the best of my ability. No one is forbidden to do it better. If someone does not wish to read it, he can let it lie. - On Translation - 1530

Go to sleep, dear little boy. I have no gold to leave you, but a rich God. If you become a lawyer, I will hang you on the gallows. Some lawyers are greedy and rob their clients blind, it is almost impossible for lawyers to be saved. It’s difficult enough for theologians. (Luther, to his son)

Luther argued that heretics must be refuted with words, not with fire, “else, the hangmen would be the most learned doctors in the world.”

Luther in his Address to the German Nobility, 1520, said: “The custom of kissing the Pope’s feet must cease. It is an un-Christian, or rather an anti-Christian example, that a poor sinful man should suffer his feet to be kissed by one who is a hundred times better than he. If it is done in honour of his power, why does he not do it to others in honour of their holiness? Compare them together: Christ and the Pope. Christ washed his disciples’ feet, and dried them, and the disciples never washed his. The Pope, pretending to be higher than Christ, inverts this, and considers it a great favor to let us kiss his feet.”

Appendix 1: Martin Luther

Disorders in Wittenberg caused by some of his more extreme followers forced his return to the city in March 1521, and he restored peace through a series of sermons. 1 In these sermons, he hammered home the core Christian values such as love, patience, charity, and freedom, and reminded the citizens to trust God’s word rather than violence to bring about necessary change.

Do you know what the Devil thinks when he sees men use violence to propagate the gospel? He sits with folded arms behind the fire of hell, and says with malignant looks and frightful grin: “Ah, how wise these madmen are to play my game! Let them go on; I shall reap the benefit. I delight in it.” But when he sees the Word running and contending alone on the battlefield, then he shudders and shakes for fear. 2

Luther continued his teaching and writing in Wittenberg but soon became involved in the controversies surrounding the Peasants’ War (1524-26) because the leaders of the peasants originally justified their demands with arguments somewhat illegitimately drawn from his writings. 1

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy 2 Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol VII, Ch IV.

Appendix 1: Martin Luther

Luther considered their theological arguments false, although he supported many of their political demands. When the peasants turned violent, he angrily denounced them and supported the princes’ effort to restore order. Although he later repudiated the harsh, vengeful policy adopted by the nobles, his attitude toward the war lost him many friends. 1

In the midst of this controversy he married (1525) Katharina von Bora, a former nun. The marriage was happy, and his wife became an important supporter in his busy life. 1

Together they had 6 children and raised 4 orphans. Luther concluded that “marriage is a far better school for character than any monastery.” 2

He published his most popular book, the “Small Catechism”, in 1529. In it he explains the theology of the evangelical reformation in simple yet colorful language. 1

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, Geddes MacGregor, Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy 2 Glimpses of Christian History

Katharina Luther

Appendix 1: Martin Luther

Charles V, convened an Imperial Diet in Augsburg in 1530 with the goal of uniting the empire against the Ottoman Turks, who had besieged Vienna the previous autumn. To achieve unity, Charles required a resolution of the religious controversies in his realm. Luther, still under the Imperial Ban, was left behind… while his elector and colleagues from Wittenberg attended the diet. 1

The Augsburg Confession was a summary of the Lutheran faith authored by Philipp Melanchthon but approved by Luther.

The emperor had ordered the confession to be presented to him… but when the evangelical princes asked that it be read in public, their petition was refused, and efforts were made to prevent the public reading of the document altogether. The evangelical princes, however, declared that they would not part with the confession until its reading should be allowed. The 25th was then fixed for the day of its presentation. In order to exclude the people, the little chapel of the episcopal palace was appointed in place of the spacious city hall, where the meetings of the diet were held. The two Saxon chancellors Bruck and Beyer, the one with the Latin copy, the other with the German, stepped into the middle of the assembly, and against the wish of the emperor the German text was read. The reading lasted two hours and was so distinct that every word could be heard outside. 1 1 Wikipedia

Appendix 1: Martin Luther

“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (German, Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott) is the best known of Martin Luther’s hymns. Luther wrote the words and composed the melody sometime between 1527-1529. It has been translated into English at least seventy times and also into many other languages. The words are a paraphrase of Psalm 46. The most popular English version, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing,” was translated by Frederick H. Hedge in 1853. Another popular English version by Thomas Carlyle begins "A safe stronghold our God is still.“ 1

1 Wikipedia

A rare early printing of Luther's hymn, Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott

Appendix 1: Martin Luther

In August 1519, Zürich was struck by an outbreak of the plague during which at least one in four persons died. All of those who could afford it left the city, but Zwingli remained and continued his pastoral duties. In September, he caught the disease and nearly died. He described his preparation for death in a poem. The final verses of the first part read:

Thy purpose fulfill: nothing can be too severe for me. I am thy vessel, for you to make whole or break to pieces. Since, if you take hence my spirit from this earth, you do it so that it will not grow evil, and will not mar the pious lives of others.

Appendix 2: Ulrich Zwingli

Zürich became a theocracy ruled by Zwingli and a Christian magistrate. Sweeping reforms were instituted, among them the removal of religious images, and the elimination of Mass and confession. 1

Zwingli in 1524 marked his new status by marrying a widow Anna Reinhard. 1

For some time Zwingli had accused mendicant orders of hypocrisy and demanded their abolition in order to support the truly poor. He suggested the monasteries be changed into hospitals and welfare institutions and incorporate their wealth into a welfare fund. 2

Zwingli carried his crusade to cantons other than Zürich. In all, 6 cantons were converted to the Reformation. The remaining 5, known as the Forest Cantons, remained staunchly Catholic. The antagonisms between Catholic and Protestant cantons created a serious split within the Swiss confederation. 1

Although Bern adopted Zwingli’s reforms in 1528, and Basel and St. Gall soon after. The Forest Cantons remained loyal to Rome and attacked Zürich in 1531.

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia 2 Wikipedia

Appendix 2: Ulrich Zwingli

The battle swept with a roar like that of thunder through the wood... there is one death that affects us more than all the others. Zwingli, though present on the field, did not draw sword: he restricted himself to his duties as chaplain. When the murderous assault was made from the forest, and many were falling around him, he stooped down to breathe a few words into the ear of a dying man. While thus occupied he was struck with a stone upon the head, and fell to the earth. Recovering in a little he rose, but received two more blows. As he lay on the ground a hostile spear dealt him a fatal stab, and the blood began to trickle from the wound. “What matters it?” said he; “they may kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul.” These were the last words he uttered. The darkness fell, the stars came out, the night was cold. Zwingli had fallen at the foot of a pear-tree, and lay extended on the earth. His hands were clasped, his eyes were turned to heaven, and his lips moved in prayer. The camp-followers were now prowling over the field of battle. Two of them approached the place where the Reformer lay. “Do you wish for a priest to confess yourself?” said they. The dying man shook his head. “At least,” said they, “call in your heart upon the Mother of God.” He signified his dissent by another shake of the head. 1


Appendix 2: Ulrich Zwingli

Curious to know who this obstinate heretic was, one of them raised his head, and turned it toward one of the fires which had been kindled on the field. He suddenly let it fall, exclaiming, “Tis Zwingli!” It happened that Bockinger, an officer from Unterwalden, and one of those pensioners against whom Zwingli had so often thundered, was near. The name pronounced by the soldier fell upon his ear. “Zwingli!” exclaimed he; “is it that vile heretic and traitor Zwingli?” He had hardly uttered the words when he raised his sword and struck him on the throat. Yielding to this last blow, Zwingli died (October 11, 1531). It was on the field of battle that the Reformer met death. But the cause for which he yielded up his life was that of the Reformation of the Church and the regeneration of his country. He was not less a martyr than if he had died at the stake. 1

In December 1531, the Zürich council selected his colleague and son-in-law, Heinrich Bullinger as his successor.

Under Bullinger, the confessional divisions of the Confederation were stabilised. He rallied the reformed cities and cantons and helped them to recover from the defeat at Kappel. Zwingli had instituted fundamental reforms, while Bullinger consolidated and refined them. 2

1 2 Wikipedia

Appendix 2: Ulrich Zwingli

John Calvin was a distinguished law student, strict and severe in manner, who was forced to flee persecution in France. For years he lived under aliases and moved constantly to avoid arrest. He became the great Reformer of Geneva. 1

Recruited by William Farel’s forcefully insistence, he became the first to systematically expound Reformed theology through daily sermons and lectures which worked verse by verse through the whole Bible. Calvin taught “the whole counsel of God” including: the Sovereignty of God in predestination, the Grace of God in His irresistible call, and the Lordship of Christ in all areas of social, economic, judicial, political and moral life. 1

His Institutes (which began as a letter to the King of France) developed into the most comprehensive and influential book on the Christian Faith ever published. 1

Pope Pius IV, the Roman pontiff at the time of Calvin’s death, provided a telling eulogy on his arch enemy: “The strength of that heretic (Calvin) consisted in this, that money never had the slightest charm for him. If I had such servants my dominion would extend from sea to sea.” 1

1 Dr. Peter Hammond - Christian Action Network

Appendix 3: John Calvin

Appendix 3: John Calvin

Like Luther, Zwingli and Knox, Calvin didn’t teach the concept of separation of church and state, but continued to endorse a state church which had prevailed since the time of Constantine. Although he did not hold office in the government, he had immense influence in Geneva.

Calvin drafted the new ordinances that the government modified and adopted as a constitution for Geneva governing both secular and sacred matters. 1

Calvin also supported development of a municipal school system for all children, with the Geneva Academy as the center of instruction for the very best students. In 1559 the academy was begun, with Theodore Beza as rector of what soon became a full university. 1

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia

Theodore Beza (1519-1605) - Successor to Calvin

Appendix 3: John Calvin

Calvin sought to improve the life of the city’s citizens in many ways. He supported good hospitals, a proper sewage system, protective rails on upper stories to keep children from falling from tall buildings, special care for the poor and infirm, and the introduction of new industries. 1

Until the defeat of the Perrin family in 1555, there was significant opposition to Calvin’s leadership in the city. 1

In Calvin’s time Geneva was an important refugee centre and became known as the “woman’s paradise” because of laws regarding how men were to treat their wives. 2

Many of the tenets of Calvinism have had profound social implications—in particular, that thrift, industry, and hard work are forms of moral virtue and that business success is an evidence of God’s grace. Because these views helped to create a climate favorable to commerce, Calvin played a role in the overthrow of feudalism and the establishment of capitalism. 1

1 References: 1996 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia 2 Christian History Institute

Elizabeth I’s reign is famous for the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The conflict with the Spanish Armada represented the height of the long struggle between Protestant England and Catholic Spain.

King Philip II of Spain had been king consort of England until the death, in 1558, of his wife, Queen Mary I of England.

By the 1580s, Elizabeth had fallen into definite disfavor with Philip II. Not only was she a Protestant, she refused his marriage proposals years before and also sent Leicester to the Netherlands to fight the Spanish in 1585. Moreover, she had covertly supported Sir Francis Drake's attacks on Spanish treasure galleons returning from the New World.

Philip decided in 1587 that the time was ripe for an invasion of England. Prior to the undertaking, Pope Sixtus V allowed Philip II to collect crusade taxes and granted his men indulgences.

Right up until the attempted invasion by Philip, Elizabeth had continually tried to negotiate her way to peace.

Philip was readying the Spanish Armada when Drake led a raid on the armada at Cadiz in April 1587. This attack took the Spanish entirely by surprise, and Drake’s maneuver set back the Spanish invasion by about a year.

Appendix 4: The Spanish Armada

In July 1588, Philip finally managed to launch the supposedly invincible Spanish Armada. His hope was to swing the fleet by the Netherlands, pick up his army there, and transport them across the English Channel for a ground invasion.

England’s navy, helped by a fortuitous wind (referred to as the “Protestant Wind”), managed to defeat the Armada. Philip blamed the weather for his loss, and excused himself with the statement, “I sent the Armada against men, not God’s winds and waves.”

But the weather alone did not bring the English their victory: the English vessels outmaneuvered and outfought the Armada. On July 28, England defeated Spain in a decisive battle, preventing the Spanish from landing in England. Fleeing into the North Sea, the Armada was wracked by storms. Of the 30,000 Spanish soldiers Philip had sent to invade, only 10,000 survived.

On November 24, 1588, the English nation celebrated a national day of Thanksgiving for its victory over Spain.

Even as England faced invasion from Catholic Spain’s Armada, the large number of Catholics in England remained loyal to Elizabeth. After leading England through 30 years of prosperity, she enjoyed popularity even among her religious opponents.

Appendix 4: The Spanish Armada

Appendix 5: John Knox

Within a few weeks after Cardinal Beaton burnt Hamilton, Scottish nobles murdered the cardinal and, as refugees, took possession of Beaton's seaside castle of St. Andrews. Knox was invited to be their chaplain and continued to tutor his young students. 1

Knox accused the Catholic clergy of Scotland of being “gluttons, wantons and licentious revelers, but who yet regularly and meekly partook of the sacrament.”

While residing in the castle of St.Andrews, a stronghold and place of refuge for many Protestants, in July of 1547, the castle was seized by outside forces and John Knox became a French galley-slave for 19 months. There he experienced hardships and miseries which are said to have permanently injured his health.

One incident during those months reveals something of the latent fire in the Scottish preacher, even while in chains. A picture of the Virgin Mary was brought on board, while the galley was in port, to be kissed by the slaves. When Knox refused, the picture was thrust into his face. Outraged, he flung the "accursed idol" into the river, saying “Let our Lady learn to swim.” 1

1 1975, Bob Jones University.

On his release, which took place early in 1549, through the intervention, apparently, of the English government, “Knox went to England for five years. Now ruled (1549) by the protestant, Edward, England welcomed John Knox. He preached in a settled parish, learned much about reforming work, and became a royal chaplain.” 1

Then Mary I succeeded the late Edward VI. In 4 years ‘Bloody’ Mary would engineer the horrible deaths of 300 men and women. Knox had to leave England immediately. He moved to Geneva, and daily gained from his friend John Calvin the theological equipment he had to have for the final spiritual assault on his homeland. 2

His sojourns in Geneva were the happiest periods of his life. He preached 3 times per week to an English congregation, was given long hours for study, immersed himself in Hebrew and Greek. At the same time he knew that Geneva was Gospel-infused while Edinburgh was not. When three Scottish nobles wrote him, pleading with him to return, he could not decline. 2

1 1975, Bob Jones University 2 Victor Shepherd

Appendix 5: John Knox

He remained for nine months preaching Evangelical doctrine in various parts of the country, and persuading those who favored the Reformation to cease from attendance at mass, and to join with himself in the celebration of the Lord's Supper according to a Reformed ritual.

In May, 1556, he was cited to appear before the hierarchy in Edinburgh, and he boldly responded to the summons; but the bishops found it expedient not to proceed with the trial. In July an urgent call from his congregation at Geneva, along, probably, with the desire to prevent the renewal of persecution in Scotland, caused him to resume his Genevan ministry. 1

After a return to Geneva and more labor there, Knox finally ended the 13 years of wandering exile. 1

Before leaving Geneva for the last time he published his tract, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. The ‘regiment’ consisted of two: ‘Bloody’ Mary, who had done her utmost to bury his work in England, and Scotland’s Mary of Guise, soon to give way to her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots. The ‘Blast’ was no firecracker. The penalty for possessing a copy of it, or for failing to destroy a copy which found its way into one’s hands, was death. 2

1 1975, Bob Jones University 2 Victor Shepherd

Appendix 5: John Knox

He was to leave the soil of Scotland no more. During 1560 and 1561, the Scottish Parliament accepted the reformed confession of faith drawn up by Knox and others. The time of conflict seemed to be past, the time of building and organization seemed to have come. 1

Fearing that Mary of Guise had heartlessly sacrificed Scotland to France (or at least had tried to), the Scottish nobles deposed her. With Mary out of the way the Reformers’ situation appeared to improve. Knox and his fellow-strugglers now had the breathing space required to write the Scots Confession of Faith. Alongside it provisions were made for each pastor in the Kirk to be paid a stipend, large enough to support spouse and children and render unnecessary the distraction of a second job. All of Scotland was to be divided into self-supporting parishes, with a parish-supported school in each. Here there was bred the Scots' reputation for their veneration of education, their repugnance at tyranny, their insistence on democracy, and their love of literature. 2

1 1975, Bob Jones University 2 Victor Shepherd

Appendix 5: John Knox

But a last great conflict was yet to be fought; this time it was to be with words. Those words, weapons at whose use the thundering Scot was most adept, were with the young queen, Mary, widowed in France at 18, whose mother was regent in her behalf over Scotland until her death in 1560. Mary, Queen of Scots, a Romanist, was strangely out of place in that northern country, having lived her life in France. She came to rule a country which had become reformed in her absence and had to face the man who was more the leader of her people than was the queen. 1

On his deathbed, John Knox asked that 2 Scripture passages be read: his beloved John 17 and Psalm 9. The last 4 verses state: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever. Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.”

Knox was survived by the Scottish Covenanters, who drew up a compact in 1638 asserting their right, under God, to national sovereignty.

1 1975, Bob Jones University

Appendix 5: John Knox


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