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Daily Readings With Martin Luther

This little collection of Martin Luther’s writings is a quick read; I breezed through it in one evening and am now rather wishing I followed the suggestion of the title and read bits of it more slowly on a daily basis. Like most Christians, I’m very familiar with Martin Luther as a historical figure and recognize the incredible impact of the Reformation he began, but I had not yet read any of his writings.

James Atkinson, who wrote the introduction for this slim little volume, gives a brief bio of Luther’s life, but I thought it was unfortunate that he left out any references to Catherine von Bora, the nun who became Luther’s wife. A priest getting married was just as bold and astonishing an act as nailing Ninety-Five Theses to the cathedral door, and Luther’s marriage is just another proof of how completely he put his faith in the Word of God rather than in the Roman Catholic Church.

This collection does not aspire to be a complete summary of Luther’s writings and doctrines, but it does contain some powerful ideas and has increased my desire for more of his work. Consider these quotes:

In seeking faith the soul gets grasped, yet does not itself grasp. That means, it is divested of its robes and shoes, indeed of all it possesses, even its dreams and fantasies, and is snatched by the Word… which immediately leads it into the desert. (32)

By the one solid rock we call the doctrine of justification by faith alone, we mean that we are redeemed from sin, death, and the devil, and are made partakers of life eternal, not by self-help but by outside help, namely, by the work of the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ alone. (34)

God pays no heed to the insignificance of the work being done, but looks at the heart which is serving him in the work; and this is true of such mundane tasks as washing the dishes or milking the cows. (38)

Men seek God everywhere: but because they do not seek for him in Christ, they never find him. (40)

It is the wisdom of the saints to believe in the truth in opposition to the lie, in the hidden truth against the manifest truth, in hope against hope. (43)

By death the gospel was bought, by deaths spread abroad, by deaths safeguarded. In like manner, it must take many deaths to preserve it, even to restore it. Christ is a bloody partnership for us. (44)

In the trial of real anguish, the conscience should think of Christ, and know absolutely nothing but Christ. (46)

Let the man who wants to hear God speak read the Holy Scripture. Whenever a man reads the word of God, he is being handled by God; the Holy Spirit is speaking to him. (51)

A Christian is always praying, whether he is sleeping or waking, for his heart is always praying, and even a little sigh is a great and mighty prayer. (53)

It is the word of God and his promise that makes good your prayer, not your own devotion. (54)

The world and the masses are and always will be unChristian, even though they be baptized and Christian in name… The world is always true to itself; by nature it is unbelieving, the kingdom of Satan, the enemy of Christ. (62)

It is a matter of necessity that we be destroyed and rendered formless, so that Christ may be formed within us, and Christ alone be in us… Real mortifications do not happen in lonely places away from the society of other human beings. No! They happen in the home, the market place, in secular life… ‘Being conformed to Christ’ is not in our power to achieve. It is God’s gift, not our own work. (71)

Those who inflict the greatest harm on believers are their greatest benefactors, as long as they bear their sufferings in the right spirit… Wherever Christ is, Judas, Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas and Annas will inevitably be there also, and the cross for good measure. (78)

You will have as much joy and laughter in life as you have faith in God. (89)

Across the ages the saints can speak, encouraging one another in the good fight and reveling in the doctrines of the faith. Luther, you are a blessing to me. ( )

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