by Stephen Whitney

Christ, Our Perfect Priest
Stephen Whitney
Hebrews 7:26-28


Martin Luther was born in Germany in 1483, the second son in a family of eight children. His father and mother were devout and God-fearing in their beliefs which included elements of paganism about the woods and witches blended with belief in Christ.

In his class book, Here I Stand: A Life of Marin Luther, Yale University historian Dr. Roland Bainton summarized those early years: ''Luther imbibed a religion in which one had to strive for future salvation, just as one had to work for material survival. The entire training of home, school and university was designed to instill fear of God and reverence for the church.''

He went to school to be a lawyer, but one day caught in a terrible thunderstorm and thinking he would die he pleaded with God that if he would spare him he would become a monk.

The life of a monk was terribly hard, but they believed that their suffering pleased God. Luther sometimes fasted for three days without eating anything. He would sleep without blankets and almost froze himself to death. He said, ''If I had kept on my longer, I should have killed myself with vigils, prayers, reading and other work.''

And yet he despaired of any spiritual benefit as he still felt the guilt of his sins upon his soul. No matter what he did to relieve the guilt of his sins he did not feel forgiven even when he confessed his sins for up to eight hours a day to a senior priest.

As he studied the scriptures he came to understand that we are forgiven of our sins through what Christ did for us, not anything we can do about them. Luther saw that the heart of the gospel does not have to do with what God demands of us, but with what he gives to us in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:12 Peter so clearly stated it: There is salvation in on one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.


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