Our Core Values
Our Way of Worship
Martin Luther, His Life and Work
Our Core ValuesThe identity of Saint Thomas finds expression in a number of "core values" as it strives to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an ever-changing world. These Core Values are:
1. God's love is central.
2. All people are valuable to God.
3. Bible based, Christ centred, inspirational worship.
4. Grace orientated.
5. Growth through teaching and sharing.
6. Loving Fellowship.
7. Prayer focussed.
8. Outreach through friendship and invitation.
Click for a more detailed description, with Bible references, of each core value.
1. God's love is central
We believe that God's unconditional love, expressed first and foremost by the cross of Jesus Christ, is the only source for our relationship with God and Christian fellowship. We did not choose Him, but He chose us. Through his love we are connected to Him and to one another.
- 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."
- John 15:16
- "You did not choose me, but I chose you..."
2. All people are valuable to God
We believe that every person, Christian and non-Christian alike, is valuable to God and loved equally by Him. This love motivates us to be inclusive and to welcome all people into our fellowship, irrespective of their social class or ethnical background.
- Matt 28:19
- "Go and make disciples of all nations..."
- 2 Peter 3:9
- "He (the Lord) is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
3. Bible based, Christ centred and inspirational worship
We believe that central to Christian worship is not what we do for God, but what God does for us through the preaching of his Word and the celebration of his Sacraments, Holy Baptism and Communion. As such Sunday and weekday services are not obligations placed on man, but rather invitations to experience God's love and grace. All proclamation is "Bible based" and "Christ centred". It relates God-experiences recorded in Scripture, in particular the experience of God's love in Jesus Christ, and applies them to our everyday lives, struggles, hardships, joys and successes. Inspirational worship is one that inspires "continued" life with God.
- Mark 2:27
- "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."
- John 20:31
- "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
- 1 Cor 2:2
- "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
4. Grace motivated
We believe that although the Law of God is necessary to reveal our sins and to heighten our dependency on God, it is only God's grace that makes us acceptable to God and effects change in our daily lives. We therefore attempt to motivate people through invitation, love, and thankfulness rather than guilt, shame, and duty.
- Eph 2:8
- "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast."
- Titus 2:11
- "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."
- Rom 2:4
- "[Don't you realize] that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?"
- Rom 6:14
- "Sin shall not be your masters, because you are not under law, but under grace."
5. Growth through teaching and sharing
We believe that Jesus did not only call people into a relationship with God, but also called them to be disciples ("learners"), who grow to maturity and are able to reproduce ("disciple others"). For this purpose small group and fellowship gatherings for young and old are seen to be imperative. They provide opportunities for connecting people, study, questioning, service, care, and developing new leaders. "Numerical growth" is to be the result of quality ministry, both during public worship services and small group gatherings.
- Heb 5:12
- "By this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again."
- 1 Cor 3:2
- "You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly?"
- 1 Peter 2:2
- "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation"
- "By this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again."
6. Loving Fellowship
We believe that faith in Christ leads to a loving and caring fellowship amongst all members. In this fellowship nobody "lords" over another, but each one endeavours to be a "servant" of all, using the gift(s) provided to each individual by the Holy Spirit. As the body of Christ consists of a diversity of people, gifts, tastes, personal and cultural preferences, we commit ourselves to regard others more important than ourselves and in times of disunity to seek forgiveness and reconciliation as God forgives us in Jesus Christ. Constructive (involved) criticism is welcomed as a tool to reach excellence for Christ. Detached (uninvolved) criticism, however, is given no audience. Through friendliness and genuine care we commit to continually improve the fellowship within our congregation.
- John 13:34ff
- "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
- Luke 22:24ff
- "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them...But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves."
- Eph 4:2-3
- "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
- Phil 2:3-4
- "Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."
7. Prayer Focussed
We believe that prayer is a divine gift to share our lives and those of others with God and a means to discern the will of God. As a result we are devoted to prayer for one another and rely on private and corporate prayer in the conception, planning and execution of all the ministries and activities of this church.
- Matt 7:7-8
- "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
- James 1:4
- "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God."
- James 4:2
- "You do not have, because you do not ask God."
8. Outreach through friendship and invitation
We believe that the church does not exist solely for its own benefit. It has a mission to reach out to others, sharing Christ's love at every opportunity. Although the opportunities of exercising Christ-love are numerous, we believe that lives are best reached by each believer developing genuine relationships with friends and family and extending an invitation to them. Evangelism is a "normal" activity that occurs in everyday life situations. Every believer is a missionary.
- Matt 28:19
- "Go and make disciples of all nations.... "
- John 1:43ff
- "The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." ... Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth..."
- John 4:28ff
- "Then, leaving her water jar, the (Samaritan) woman went back to the town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"
Our Way of WorshipOUR WAY OF WORSHIP
An explanation of the Traditional Order of Service
Where lies the origin of our Order of Service?
Each church has an Order of Service; and each order of service has its origin somewhere. Some churches have a structured and very formal Order of Service. Others churches prefer to hold their services in an informal way, giving the pastor more freedom to lead the service as he himself is led. But even in the latter case, especially if a pastor remains in the same congregation for a long period of time, his way of doing it, becomes the new Order of Service.
The Lutheran Church belongs to the family of "traditional churches". With regard to the Order of Service it means that its roots lie in "tradition", going all the way back to the Christian congregations of the first century. Scripture, of course, does not contain a fixed Order of Service to be followed by all Christians throughout all generations. A complete, in-exchangeable Order of Service is unknown to Scripture. But large parts of the Traditional Order of Service are taken directly from Scripture. Words of praise which we sing, greetings which we speak, prayers which we pray, are all taken from Scripture itself and reflect the way the Christians worshipped in the Early Church and in the centuries that followed. Why is this so important to the Lutheran Church? It is important, because by means of our Order of Service we identify with the Christians throughout the ages. We are not a modern manifestation, representing a new church, but it is the same church of Christ also present today.
Worship Service or Divine Service?
The traditional Order of Service of the Lutheran Church is called a "Divine Service" in contrast to a "Worship Service". This shift in emphasis highlights our understanding of the Sunday Service. The question to be asked is: Who serves whom? Do we serve the Divine-One by means of our prayers and praises, or does He serve us through his Word and Sacrament?
Scripture makes clear that God does not need our service, but we need Him. That is the reason why God has ruled: "Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy". Similarly the Lord Jesus says: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mk.2,27). On the Sunday we are, therefore, being served by God. Our songs and prayers are not our service, but our response to God's service, to whom indeed all glory and praise is due.
The meaning of our Order of Service
As in the first century, our Order of Service is characterised by two main points:
1. The Word, consisting of two Scripture Readings and the Sermon; and
2. the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
Everything before the "Word part" prepares us for the hearing of the Word. The Word part is followed by praise leading to Holy Communion. From Holy Communion words of thanksgiving guide us to the close of the service. This is depicted in the drawing below: (click to enlarge)
Preamble: Standing and Sitting
Notably in the Lutheran Church we remain seated when we sing and stand up when the Word of God is read or spoken or when a prayer is said. This is done out of respect to God.
After the introductory hymn the pastor says:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!
With these words we are reminded to whom we belong since we were born, and especially since the day of our baptism. It is He who serves us and it is to Him that our worship is directed. This also applies to the pastor, who in songs of praise and prayer identifies with the congregation, therefore facing the altar.
We prepare to enter the presence of God by means of a confession. The confession expresses our realisation that we are not worthy to enter God's presence, but do so solely by the forgiving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Early Church this confession often took place outside, in front of the church, before entering the building (see drawing above).
The word "Introit" means "entry". In the Early Church it was sung on entering the church. The introit announces the theme of the Sunday and consists of:
1. A Psalm or a Bible verse
2. The small Gloria: "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever."
The custom of singing Psalms is found already in the Old Testament and have always formed part of both the Jewish and Christian Services.
"Kyrie eleison" (Greek) means "Lord have mercy" (today sung in our own language). The Kyrie entails a dual testimony:
a) Jesus is the true Lord (In the first century the Roman Emperor was called "Kyrie". By calling Jesus the "Kyrios, the Christians testify who to them is the true Lord of this world and the universe and to whom they pay homage.
b) We need Jesus (With these words, for example, the blind man of Jericho called on Jesus for help - Mt.20:30f). It is an expression of our helplessness on earth.
The great Gloria is taken from Lk.2:14, sung by the angels, when Jesus, the Saviour of the World, was born in Bethlehem: "Glory be to God on high and on earth peace, good will toward men...". Our cry of helplessness is answered by God in the sending of his own Son.
Before the collect is spoken, the congregation is first greeted by the pastor: "The Lord be with you". With these words the Christians in the first century greeted each other. In greeting the congregation, the pastor wishes the congregation the presence of the Lord, dearly needed for the receptiveness of God's message. The congregation returns the greeting: "And with your Spirit", meaning: May God also be with you as you lead us in this Service.
The "Collect" is a short prayer. It originates from an early tradition to come together before the main Service for a "preparatory Service", called the ecclessia collecto (the gathering congregation). The service consisted solely out of prayers. The prayers spoken were then incorporated into the main service in a shortened form, originally consisting of only one sentence.
6. THE WORD
The "Word" (the first high point) is introduced by two readings:
a) an Epistle Reading from one of the New Testament letters about life in the church of Christ, and
b) a Gospel Reading with either words spoken by Jesus himself or a narrative about his salvation work.
After each reading, the congregation answers with a word of praise, which in turn is followed by the creed. The creed fulfills the following purpose:
a) It is our answer to God's Word.
b) It is worship of God - listing his deeds of grace and salvation.
c) It is identification with the Christians throughout the ages.
The apostolic Creed has been in use since the 4th century and is spoken by all Christian's world wide.
The Sermon forms the pinnacle of the Word part. It is our firm belief that through the preached word, God himself speaks to us. This is true even if a preacher has no special charisma. God has always used "ordinary" people (fishermen) to convey his divine message. Greetings and words of blessing spoken before and after the sermon itself, are also taken from Scripture.
7. Thank offering
The Thank offering has always been part of the Divine Service. Gratitude for God's saving work is not only expressed by words of mouth, but also by active contributions to the building of God's kingdom.
In the Early Church time was made during the service for all those attending to present gifts (an offer) at the altar (including food, clothing and money) for the priests and the poor. At the same time preparations were made for Holy Communion. Sufficient bread and wine were set aside and placed on a table next to the altar.
The words "Create in me a clean heart, O God" are taken from Psalm 51:12-13. The Psalm was David's prayer of repentance for the sins he had committed with Bathsheba. It prepares the congregation both for the general prayer (one sinner praying for others) and for Holy Communion (with the inner wish of renewal through communion with Christ).
9. General Prayer
Through his apostles, the Lord has called on his people to make intercession "for everyone" (1 Tim.2:1ff). Whereas the prayer directly after the sermon focuses on the message that has been heard, the general prayer is primarily a prayer of intercession for the rulers of this world, the poor and the sick, and many more.
10. Preface and Sanctus
The Preface and Sanctus (= holy) leads us towards the sacrament of Holy Communion. After having just experienced the miracle of having our living Lord speak to us in his Word, another miracle is soon to take place. The same Lord is about to meet us in His very body and blood.
This is an occasion for joy. So we encourage each other to "lift our hearts" and "to give thanks to the Lord our God". This is also a time to adore the Saviour, culminating in "Holy, holy, holy...", the song the prophet Isaiah heard the seraphim singing around the throne of God (Is.6:6). As we gather around the altar, we gather as if around the very throne of the almighty and merciful God.
We do not worship a distant Saviour, but one who is always present. Joyfully, therefore, we welcome our gracious King with the glad "Hosanna". This is the song that first greeted His ears when he entered the city of Jerusalem on the Sunday before His death (Mt.29:9) - the death that brought deliverance from death to all.
12. The Lord's Prayer
At a moment like this, as we are about to enter the New Testament "Holy of Holies", we want nothing in our hearts nor on our lips but prayer. And how better could we pray than in the words our Lord Himself taught us.
13. THE SACRAMENT
With the Sacrament of Holy Communion we reach the second high point of the Divine Service. The sacrament is not just a reminder of an event that took place many years ago. Instead "Do this in remembrance of me" means, that what happened on the cross of Golgotha is made present for the participants today. As we kneel at the altar, the Lord himself is present. Under the bread and the wine he presents us with his body and his blood, given and shed on the cross for our sins. The words "for you" highlight God's gift of salvation to you personally. The joyful fellowship we enjoy with the Lord and with one another in the celebration of this Sacrament, is a foretaste of the heavenly celebrations awaiting all believers in eternity.
The words of institution are spoken as Jesus himself spoke them on the night before his death. As the Sacrament is distributed, we sing the Angus Dei, a liturgical prayer dating back to the 8th century: "O Christ, the Lamb of God...", emphasising the vicarious ("in my place") sacrifice of Christ, as God's Lamb, for the forgiveness of our sins.
14. Nunc Dimittis (Go now!)
"Lord, now let your servant depart in peace..." These words were spoken by the aged Simeon in the temple after he had held the gift of God, the Christ Child in his hands (Lk.2:29-32). Having embraced the Lord, Simeon declared himself ready to depart from this world in peace. How fitting it is for us to sing this song of Simeon having met the Lord in His Sacrament and having been assured of his forgiving grace. In the prayer of thanksgiving that follows, we speak as a grateful congregation, asking God that His blessing rest upon this Gift of His to us all.
Just as Jesus lifted up His hands when he blessed the disciples before ascending to heaven, so the same Jesus through the voice of His minister imparts His blessing to us. It is the blessing given to Aaron, the priest of God, to bless God's chosen people (Num.6:24).
Martin Luther, His Life and Work (by Alfred Faulstick)
1. The Formation of the Church
Christ commanded His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. They were to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit had been poured out on them. This wonderful act occurred on the Day of Pentecost, when 3,000 people became Christians. From that day and place onward the preaching of the Gospel has reached every country of the globe. Congregations must necessarily be established in order to spread the Good News of the grace of God in Christ Jesus. The apostles established many congregations. The greatest missionary was the apostle Paul. The book of Acts record his missionary journeys throughout the Mediterranean. The congregations were, called "churches," and all Christians, that is, all believers in Christ, were called "the church" (invisible church). The church visible was the local congregation, believers who called pastors (1 Timothy 12, 2 Timothy 2:24), and maintained their living (Galatians 6:6). The mission of the church was and is to "make disciples of all nations." The institution of the church has scriptural foundation. Of course, we must always bear in mind that the church does not exist for its own sake, but for the sake of its message. First the message, then the church; that is the order of importance.
2. The Deformation of the Church
Originally the church was a martyr institution, bitterly persecuted by the world on account of its message, the preaching of Christ and Him crucified, "a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 1:23). In time, however, the world began to "patronize" or support the church; the church then became more concerned about its own interests and organization. The result was that the "message" was moved further into the background.
Under Constantine the Great (Roman emperor, died 337), the church was united with the empire and became established as a world power. Ambition seized some among the clergy. The bishops in the larger cities, as in Rome, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch, began to exercise more influence and power than the others. The bishop of Rome and the bishop of Constantinople became the most powerful bishops. When both wanted to be supreme, a split occurred in the church, and Christendom was divided into the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church. The bishop of Rome declared himself head of the church, that is, "the Pope."
Soon after the establishment of the papal authority, the church began to show signs of deterioration and decay. Worldly life and corrupt morals found their way into all classes of society; more and more confidence was placed in the intercession of saints, outward church services, and good works. False teachings became common. The Bible lost its authority. It was no longer the absolute norm of faith and life. Human traditions were placed on a level with or even above the authority of the Bible. The sweet, glowing Gospel of Christ, the Saviour who yielded His life in love for His people and the world, was shrouded in mist. Christ was depicted as a stern judge. Sinners would have to address - Him through His mother. False doctrines and practices crept into the life of the church and God's people. The church was de-formed; it was in need of a re-formation.
3. The Reformation of the Church Some years before Luther, a number of attempts at reform were made. John Wycliffe (1326-84) testified in England, Girolamo Savonarola (1452-98) in Italy, John Hus (1372-1415) in Bohemia. For their efforts, Savonarola and Hus were burned at the stake. Wycliffe, the "Morning Star of the Reformation," was forced to retire from his teaching position at Oxford University. He died of a stroke before the full weight of Rome could be brought against him. In 1415, after it had ordered that Hus be burned at the stake, the Council of Constance also ordered that Wycliffe's bones be disinterred, burned, and their ashes scattered to the four winds. Such was the church's response to reform.
The efforts of Wycliffe, Savonarola, and Hus paved the way for a later reformer, who by the grace of God, called the church back to the Gospel. That man was Martin Luther, known in history as the "Father of the Reformation."
4. Birth - Schooling - Ordination - Journey to Rome
Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany, on November 10, 1483. He was baptized the next day, and, since that was St. Martin's Day, he received the name of Martin. His parents were Hans and Margarethe Luther. They were pious, but quite strict, parents.
At the age of six he went to the little hillside school at Mansfeld. Rigid discipline was maintained at school with little, if any, display of kindness. He did not learn to know Jesus as a loving Saviour, but as a stern judge whom one must fear and respect. He was taught to pray to the saints and the Virgin Mary to turn away the anger of Jesus.
At the age of 14 he went to the high school at Magdeburg. He had to sing from house to house to get something to eat. He later continued his studies at Eisenach.
In 1501 he entered the University at Erfurt. He earned the degree of bachelor of arts in 1502, and the master of arts in 1505.
Luther was devoutly religious. He was deeply conscious of his sin. He was afraid of death. He cried to the Virgin Mary when one day he cut a deep gash in his leg with a short sword. Later on, namely, in the summer, he was almost struck by lightning. He fell on his knees in terror, crying, "Help, dear Saint Anne." He vowed that should he be spared he would become a monk. He entered the monastery of St. Augustine and became a monk July 17, 1505. He tried hard to find peace by doing all sorts of menial tasks, by fasting and spending nights in prayer. But all his "good works" did not quiet the unrest of his soul.
In the monastery Luther found a complete edition of the Bible. He read it eagerly. The blessed Gospel greatly quieted him. Dr. Staupitz the prior of the monastery, also pointed him to Jesus, the loving Saviour, whose blood cleanses from sin.
In 1507 Luther was ordained to the priesthood. In 1508 he was appointed to lecture on philosophy at the University of Wittenberg. It was not long before he began to preach in the chapel of the monastery. His preaching attracted great attention.
In 1509 he was transferred to the University of Erfurt. While there he was commissioned to make a journey to Rome. He was glad of the chance to visit the "holy city"; but he was disappointed in what he saw and learned there.
Upon his return from Rome he was transferred back to the University of Wittenberg. This time he was asked to teach theology. How happy he was that he could devote all his strength and time to the study of the Sacred Scriptures. He distinguished himself as a theologian. The University awarded him the degree of doctor of divinity (1512).
5. The Sale of Indulgences - 95 Theses - Burning the Papal Bull
The Diet at Worms
Leo X was Pope. He needed much money for St. Peter's Church in Rome. John Tetzel was one of the men commissioned to sell indulgences. Tetzel made quite a stir in Germany. Some of Luther's parishioners went to buy indulgences, and because they thought they had bought remission of sins, they refused to confess their sins before going to Communion. Luther knew that this was wrong; he knew from the Bible that the life of a Christian should be one of daily and continual repentance. He wished to have this matter discussed publicly. Every Friday afternoon public debates were held in the Castle Church, and it was the custom to post the topics of debate on the door of the church. And so Luther prepared 95 points of discussion, called the 95 Theses, and, on October 31, 1517, he posted these on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. These theses flew like the wind through all of Germany and beyond. The Pope heard about them, too, but he passed the matter up as "a monkish squabble." Before long, however, he thought it necessary to take action. He ordered Luther to appear before Cardinal Cajetan, his representative, at a diet (a public assembly) which was soon to be held at Augsburg. He went in October 1518.
At Augsburg Luther was ordered to revoke everything he had written touching the matter of indulgences. This he could not do, because he was certain that his writings were in agreement with Scripture. Thus gradually Luther came to see the errors of the Roman Church, and he began to publish other documents and books in which he again set forth the truth of the Bible. The Pope then issued a bull (formal letter) in which he commanded Luther to repent within 60 days of all he had written against the Roman Church, or else he would be condemned as a heretic. However, Luther felt bound by his conscience to continue his teaching as before and to publish what he knew to be God's Word.
To show that he regarded God's Word more than man's word, Luther burned the papal bull outside the city walls, in the presence of a group of students. (To this day the spot is shown in Wittenberg where this daring act was done. A tablet is erected there which reads: "Dr. Martin Luther burned at this place, on December 10, 1520, the papal bull.") By this act Luther completed his break with the Roman church. He was subsequently summoned to the diet at Worms, in April 1521, to appear before Pope Leo X and Emperor Charles V. Luther's friends feared for his life, claiming that he would not return alive, but Luther was sure that it was his duty to go there in the name of Christ and to confess the truth. He was so certain of the truth and so confident of God's protection that he replied to the pleadings of his friends: "And if they will build a wall of fire between Wittenberg and Worms that will reach up to heaven, I will still go in God's name and tread between the teeth in the mouth of Behemoth and confess Christ!"
At four o'clock in the afternoon of the first day after his arrival in Worms, Luther was conducted into the hall where the diet was in session. The streets were so crowded that he had to make his way through the backyards and alleys. Just before he entered the hall, an elderly gentleman, Captain George Frundsberg, tapped him on the shoulder and said: "Little monk! Little monk! You are now on your way to take a stand such as I and many another general have not taken in the most desperate battles, but if you are sincere and sure of your cause, go in God's name and be of good cheer, God will not forsake you."
Upon his appearance before the diet, Luther was asked two questions: first, whether the books lying on the table before him were his, and, second, whether or not he would retract what he had written in them. To the first question Luther answered, "Yes." To the second question he did not give an immediate answer, but asked for time to consider the question. An allowance of 24 hours' time was given him, and Luther spent all night in prayer over the matter.
On the following day, at four o'clock in the afternoon, he was again summoned to the diet. When he was asked whether he would retract, Luther replied with a long address which he delivered in Latin and repeated in German. He was then requested to give a shorter answer. This he did, saying in part: "Unless I am convinced by the testimony of Holy Scripture ... I cannot and will not recant, since it is neither safe nor advisable to do anything against conscience. Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise! God help me! Amen."
At the Wartburg - The Translation of the Bible
Luther was now excommunicated-excluded from the church as a heretic. Emperor Charles, furthermore, signed the Edict of Worms, a decree, drawn up by Luther's foes, forbidding everyone to aid or shelter him and ordering his books to be burned. This probably would have meant the death of Luther had it not been for his good friend, the elector Frederick of Saxony, who planned his rescue.
In the Black Forest of Saxony was an isolated fortress called the Wartburg. As Luther's wagon entered the forest on its way home from Worms, it was suddenly surrounded by a group of horsemen who brought the wagon to a stop, seized Luther, and took him away to the Wartburg. Here he was commanded to wear the clothes of a hunter and let his beard grow so that no one could recognize him. This was the Elector's successful plan of sparing Luther.
Luther remained 10 months at the Wartburg. While there, he translated the New Testament into the language of the people. Later on he also translated the Old Testament, and in 1534 he published the entire Bible in German.
6. The Fanatics
Meanwhile, Wittenberg was the scene of religious fanaticism. Under the leadership of Dr. Carlstadt, people stormed into the churches and threw out pictures and crucifixes, abolished organ and choir music, thinking they could reform the church in this way. Moved by the extreme teaching of the Roman Church regarding the words of Christ in the Lord's Supper, "This is My body," namely, that the bread changed into the body of Christ (transubstantiation), Dr. Carlstadt went to the other extreme and taught that the bread represents the body of Christ. There was also another group of fanatics who came from the town of Zwickau in West Saxony, Germany, and who were called the "Zwickau prophets." Besides trying to reform the church in the manner in which Carlstadt attempted it, they also taught false doctrines regarding the Sacrament of Baptism, namely, that Baptism is merely an act of initiation into the church, but does not work forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation. Because they demanded that everyone baptized as a child must be baptized again in adult life, they were called "Anabaptists."
Luther at first tried to correct the matter through writing, but with no results. Finally, he returned from the Wartburg, and through his influence, preaching every day for eight days, this fanatical spirit was checked in Wittenberg and the Word of God and common sense prevailed. Of course, this fanaticism continued in other places, and its leaders brought about a rebellion among the peasants of Germany, who welcomed this fanaticism because they long had been oppressed. Luther, on the other hand, put forth every effort to stem this rebellion, but unfortunately Luther's advice was not accepted, and the result was the Peasants' War. At this time also two men appeared in Switzerland: Ulrich Zwingli in German Switzerland and John Calvin in French Switzerland. Both men preached against the errors of the Roman Church, but they also tried to bring about a reformation in the similarly rash and fanatical manner of Carlstadt and the Zwickau "prophets." Both men taught essentially the same errors regarding the Lord's Supper and Holy Baptism as Carlstadt and the Zwickau prophets had done.
A meeting was arranged at Marburg between Luther and Zwingli, known as the Colloquy of Marburg. Zwingli maintained that the Lord could not be bodily present at the same time at so many differ~ ent places at which the Lord's Supper is celebrated in one day; that the body of Christ is not present in the Sacrament, but is received only in a spiritual way, and that the bread represented the presence of the body. Over against this teaching Luther maintained that when Christ said, "This is My body," He knew and meant what He said, and that we dare not deny His word. Nothing came of this meeting, for Zwingli continued in his error. Those who continued this spirit and these teachings, chiefly under the influence of Zwingli and Calvin, founded the Reformed Church, which continues to this day under various denominational names.
7. The Augsburg Confession
In the course of time, those who believed as Luther did (mockingly called "Lutherans") found it necessary to outline their faith in writing. And when they were summoned to state their belief before the Emperor and officials of the Roman Church, they presented the document they had prepared. It was read on June 25, 1530, in the city of Augsburg, and therefore it is called the Augsburg Confession. Previously Luther had also published his Small Catechism, in 1529, in order to help the people, and especially the children, in learning God's Word, for they knew so little about it. Luther also believed that the people should take part in the services at church; therefore he introduced singing by the congregation, and he himself also composed several hymns, the most famous of them being "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."
8. Luther's Marriage and Family Life
When Luther became a monk, he vowed to remain unmarried. However, he had come to see that it is contrary to God's Word for the Pope to forbid priests, monks, and nuns to marry. In order to testify against this error by his own example, he entered holy matrimony on June 13, 1525, with Katharina von Bora, a nun who had been converted by reading his writings. She became his devoted wife. They had six children, Hans, Elizabeth, Magdalene, Martin, Paul, and Margaret. Magdalene died at an early age. Luther was a kind and devoted father and spent much time with his children.
9. Luther's Death
The time was coming when Luther's life on earth was drawing to a close. For several years he had not been well. In January 1546, Luther was asked to attend a meeting in Eisleben, the place of his birth, in order to settle a dispute. While there, he complained about pains in his chest. He went to his room and lay down on a couch, but the pains continued. After about an hour's sleep he awoke and went into his bedroom, praying: Into Your hands I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth." After midnight he had another attack. Death was approaching, and he knew it.
He arose, walked into the next room, lay down on the couch again, and prayed this beautiful prayer: "O my heavenly Father, one God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, God of all comfort, I thank You that You have given for me Your dear Son Jesus Christ, in whom I believe, whom I have preached and confessed, loved and praised ... I pray You, dear Lord Jesus Christ, let me commend my soul to You. I am certain that I shall be with You forever and that no one can ever, ever tear me out of Your hands. ... Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit. You have redeemed me, faithful God."
Luther repeated to himself other passages of Scripture. When his friends saw that he was about to pass away, Dr. Jonas approached him and said: "Venerable father, will you die steadfastly adhering to Christ and the doctrines you have preached?" Luther answered distinctly, "Yes!" He passed away between two and three o'clock on Thursday morning, February 18, 1546, and was buried near the pulpit in the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
Luther's great work of the Reformation may be summed up in these words: Luther restored the message of the Christian church in its original truth and purity. Luther did not wish to abolish the outward forms of Christian worship, nor did he want to start a new church; he wished to cleanse the church of its false doctrine. To him the critical issue was the Gospel, and it was a matter of greatest importance to him that the message be the entire truth, and nothing but the truth, of God's Word. His two great principles were Sola Scriptura-"The Bible Alone," and Sola Gratia-"By Grace Alone."
In summary, we are saved by Grace, through Faith, for Christ's sake. This truth is the heart and centre of Lutheran doctrine and life.