The Bible and Martin Luther

English Bible History

Martin Luther

Martin Luther had a small head-start on Tyndale, as Luther declared his intolerance for the Roman Church’s corruption on Halloween in 1517, by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door. Luther, who would be exiled in the months following the Diet of Worms Council in 1521 that was designed to martyr him, would translate the New Testament into German for the first time from the 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus, and publish it in September of 1522. Luther also published a German Pentateuch in 1523, and another edition of the German New Testament in 1529. In the 1530’s he would go on to publish the entire Bible in German. Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) was a Christian theologian and Augustinian monk whose teachings inspired the Protestant Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines of Protestant and other Christian traditions.

Martin Luther was born to Hans and Margaretha Luder on 10 November 1483 in Eisleben, Germany and was baptised the next day on the feast of St. Martin of Tours, after whom he was named. Luther’s call to the Church to return to the teachings of the Bible resulted in the formation of new traditions within Christianity and the Counter-Reformation in the Roman Catholic Church, culminating at the Council of Trent.His translation of the Bible also helped to develop a standard version of the German language and added several principles to the art of translation. Luther’s hymns sparked the development of congregational singing in Christianity. His marriage, on June 13, 1525, to Katharina von Bora, a former nun, began the tradition of clerical marriage within several Christian traditions.

Portraits of Hans and Margarethe Luther by Lucas Cranach  1527

Luther’s early life

Martin Luther’s father owned a copper mine in nearby Mansfeld. Having risen from the peasantry, his father was determined to see his son ascend to civil service and bring further honor to the family. To that end, Hans sent young Martin to schools in Mansfeld, Magdeburg and Eisenach. At the age of seventeen in 1501 he entered the University of Erfurt. The young student received his Bachelor’s degree after just one year in 1502! Three years later, in 1505, he received a Master’s degree. According to his father’s wishes, Martin enrolled in the law school of that university. All that changed during a thunderstorm in the summer of 1505. A lightening bolt struck near to him as he was returning to school. Terrified, he cried out, „Help, St. Anne! I’ll become a monk!” Spared of his life, but regretting his words, Luther kept his bargain, dropped out of law school and entered the monastery there.

Luther’s struggle to find peace with God

Young Brother Martin fully dedicated himself to monastic life, the effort to do good works to please God and to serve others through prayer for their souls. Yet peace with God escaped him. He devoted himself to fasts, flagellations, long hours in prayer and pilgrimages, and constant confession. The more he tried to do for God, it seemed, the more aware he became of his sinfulness.

Johann von Staupitz, Luther’s superior, concluded the young man needed more work to distract him from pondering himself. He ordered the monk to pursue an academic career. In 1507 Luther was ordained to the priesthood. In 1508 he began teaching theology at the University of Wittenberg. Luther earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies on 9 March 1508 and a Bachelor’s degree in the Sentences by Peter Lombard, (the main textbook of theology in the Middle Ages) in 1509. On 19 October 1512, the University of Wittenberg conferred upon Martin Luther the degree of Doctor of Theology.

Martin Luther’s Evangelical Discovery

The demands of study for academic degrees and preparation for delivering lectures drove Martin Luther to study the Scriptures in depth. Luther immersed himself in the teachings of the Scripture and the early church. Slowly, terms like penance and righteousness took on new meaning. The controversy that broke loose with the publication of his 95 Theses placed even more pressure on the reformer to study the Bible. This study convinced him that the Church had lost sight of several central truths. To Luther, the most important of these was the doctrine that brought him peace with God.

With joy, Luther now believed and taught that salvation is a gift of God’s grace, received by faith and trust in God’s promise to forgive sins for the sake of Christ’s death on the cross. This, he believed was God’s work from beginning to end.

Luther’s 95 Theses

On Halloween of 1517, Luther changed the course of human history when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, accusing the Roman Catholic church of heresy upon heresy. Many people cite this act as the primary starting point of the Protestant Reformation… though to be sure, John Wycliffe, John Hus, Thomas Linacre, John Colet, and others had already put the life’s work and even their lives on the line for same cause of truth, constructing the foundation of Reform upon which Luther now built. Luther’s action was in great part a response to the selling of indulgences by Johann Tetzel, a Dominican priest. Luther’s charges also directly challenged the position of the clergy in regard to individual salvation. Before long, Luther’s 95 Theses of Contention had been copied and published all over Europe.

Here I Stand

Luther’s Protestant views were condemned as heretical by Pope Leo X in the bull Exsurge Domine in 1520. Consequently Luther was summoned to either renounce or reaffirm them at the Diet of Worms on 17 April 1521. When he appeared before the assembly, Johann von Eck, by then assistant to the Archbishop of Trier, acted as spokesman for Emperor Charles the Fifth. He presented Luther with a table filled with copies of his writings. Eck asked Luther if he still believed what these works taught. He requested time to think about his answer. Granted an extension, Luther prayed, consulted with friends and mediators and presented himself before the Diet the next day.

Meeting of the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire at Worms, Germany, in 1521, where Martin Luther defended his Protestant principles and was excommunicated

When the counselor put the same question to Luther the next day, the reformer apologized for the harsh tone of many of his writings, but said that he could not reject the majority of them or the teachings in them. Luther respectfully but boldly stated, „Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.„On May 25, the Emperor issued his Edict of Worms, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw.

Luther in Exile at the Wartburg Castle

The room in Wartburg where     Luther translated the New Testament into German. An original first edition of the translation is kept under the case on the desk.

Luther had powerful friends among the princes of Germany, one of whom was his own prince, Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony. The prince arranged for Luther to be seized on his way from the Diet by a company of masked horsemen, who carried him to the castle of the Wartburg, where he was kept about a year. He grew a wide flaring beard; took on the garb of a knight and assumed the pseudonym Jörg. During this period of forced sojourn in the world, Luther was still hard at work upon his celebrated translation of the Bible, though he couldn’t rely on the isolation of a monastery. During his translation, Luther would make forays into the nearby towns and markets to listen to people speak, so that he could put his translation of the Bible into the language of the people.

Although his stay at the Wartburg kept Luther hidden from public view, Luther often received letters from his friends and allies, asking for his views and advice. For example, Luther’s closest friend, Philipp Melanchthon, wrote to him and asked how to answer the charge that the reformers neglected pilgrimages, fasts and other traditional forms of piety. Luther’s replied: „If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign.” [Letter 99.13, To Philipp Melanchthon, 1 August 1521.]

Martin Luther’s German Bible

1529 Luther New Testament: The Oldest Printed German N.T. Scripture

Martin Luther was the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people. He used the recent 1516 critical Greek edition of Erasmus, a text which was later called textus receptus. The Luther German New Testament translation was first published in September of 1522. The translation of the Old Testament followed, yielding an entire German language Bible in 1534.

Luther is also know to have befriended William Tyndale, and given him safe haven and assistance in using the same 1516 Erasmus Greek-Latin Parallel New Testament that had been the source text for his German New Testament of 1522, as the trustworthy source text for Tyndale’s English New Testament of 1525-26.

Luther’s Writings

The number of books attributed to Martin Luther is quite impressive. However, some Luther scholars contend that many of the works were at least drafted by some of his good friends like Philipp Melanchthon. Luther’s books explain the settings of the epistles and show the conformity of the books of

1523 Luther Pentateuch:  The Oldest Printed      German Scripture

the Bible to each other. Of special note would be his writings about the Epistle to the Galatians in which he compares himself to the Apostle Paul in his defense of the Gospel. Luther also wrote about church administration and wrote much about the Christian home.

Luther’s work contains a number of statements that modern readers would consider rather crude. For example, Luther was know to advise people that they should literally “Tell the Devil he may kiss my ass.” It should be remembered that Luther received many communications from throughout Europe from people who could write anonymously, that is, without the specter of mass media making their communications known. No public figure today could write in the manner of the correspondences Luther received or in the way Luther responded to them. Luther was certainly a theologian of the middle-ages. He was an earthy man who enjoyed his beer, and was bold and often totally without tact in the blunt truth he vehemently preached. While this offended many, it endeared him all the more to others.

He was open with his frustrations and emotions, as well. Once, when asked if he truly loved God, Luther replied “Love God? Sometimes I hate Him!” Luther was also frustrated by the works-emphasis of the book of James, calling it “the Epistle of Straw, and questioning its canonicity. Also irritated with the complex symbolism of the Book of Revelation, he once said that it too, was not canon, and that it should be thrown into the river! He later retracted these statements, of course. Luther was a man who was easily misquoted or taken out of context. While a brilliant theologian, and a bold reformer, he would not have made a good politician. But then, he never aspired to any career in politics.

Luther’s 1534 Bible.

Martin Luther and Judaism

Luther initially preached tolerance towards the Jewish people, convinced that the reason they had never converted to Christianity was that they were discriminated against, or had never heard the Gospel of Christ. However, after his overtures to Jews failed to convince Jewish people to adopt Christianity, he began preaching that the Jews were set in evil, anti-Christian ways, and needed to be expelled from German politics. In his On the Jews and Their Lies, he repeatedly quotes the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:34, where Jesus called them „a brood of vipers and children of the devil”

Katharina von Bora, Luther’s wife (1523), by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526

Luther was zealous toward the Gospel, and he wanted to protect the people of his homeland from the Jews who he believed would be harmful influences since they did not recognize Jesus as their Saviour. In Luther’s time, parents had a right and a duty to direct their children’s marriage choices in respect to matters of faith. Likewise, Luther felt a duty to direct his German people to cling to the Jesus the Jews did not accept. It should be noted that church law was superior to civil law in Luther’s day and that law said the penalty of blasphemy was death. When Luther called for the deaths of certain Jews, he was merely asking that the laws that were applied to all other Germans also be applied to the Jews. The Jews were exempt from the church laws that Christians were bound by, most notably the law against charging interest.

Martin Luther’s Death

Martin Luther escaped martyrdom, and died of natural causes. His last written words were, „Know that no one can have indulged in the Holy Writers sufficiently, unless he has governed churches for a hundred years with the prophets, such as Elijah and Elisha, John the Baptist, Christ and the apostles… We are beggars: this is true.

pictures (via) Wikipedia and GreatSite

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Reclame

Pastorul Cristian Barbosu, Biserica Metanoia – Cum i-a vorbit Dumnezeu

Am avut harul de a-l asculta pe Pastorul Cristian Barbosu inainte de a deveni Pastor, cind se afla la Chicago, la FACULTATE. L-am auzit predicind la o Biserica Americana, Harvest Bible Chapel, cu care s-a afiliat si si-a inceput lucrarea mai tirziu in Romania. In introducere,  a povestit cum mergea pe la sate si fratii il inregistrau la casetofon, si apoi isi dadeau casetele de la unul la altul ca sa mai asculte predicile dupa plecarea lui. Fratele Cristian Barbosu este un predicator care iti tine atentia incordata in fiecare minut, si il prezinta pe Hristos cu credinciosie in predicile sale. Mai jos redau un articol scris de dinsul in 2008 si postat la situl Bisericii Baptiste Metanoia, Arad.(linkul este expirat)

Dar mai intii, o mica introducere de la Harvest Bible Fellowship:

Cristian Barbosu

Senior Pastor, Metanoia Arad, Romania Cristian holds a bachelor’s degree from Moody Bible Institute, a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and a PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

In 2005, Harvest Bible Fellowship came alongside a group of like-minded, evangelical believers from Arad, Romania, and partnered together to launch Harvest Metanoia (Biserica Metanoia).

Harvest Metanoia Arad, in turn, partnered together with a core group of believers in Braila to launch Harvest Metanoia Braila in 2008.

Pastor Cristian and his wife Anne seek intentionally to bring Christ to those both inside and outside of the church, and have two beautiful daughters, Fiona and Tara.

Teascul de masline

Aprilie 2008. Dumnezeu mi-a vorbit. Astăzi. De dimineaţă. Până ieri încă mă frământaseră gânduri de îndoială, de teamă, de eşec. Astăzi însă ceva s-a întâmplat. Dumnezeu mi-a vorbit, aşa cum numai El ştie să-ţi vorbească.

De două luni trăiesc mă frământ mereu. În toamnă m-am rugat Domnului să-mi găsească El câţiva oameni ca să formăm un grup mic, în care să investesc săptămânal, împreuna cu soţia mea, în următoarele luni. Dacă în decembrie şi ianuarie am tot căutat şi întrebat şi n-am reuşit să găsim decât vreo două persoane, în februarie, într-o singură săptămână Domnul ne-a adus zece persoane de unde nici nu ne aşteptam. Şi de-atunci a început frământarea mea, fiindcă în grup avem acum un cuplu recunoscut în lumea interlopă, un prieten apropiat de-al lor, soţia unui deţinut, un fost barman din cluburile de noapte, un cuplu care a pierdut tot (casă, maşină, serviciu) şi care-l blamează pe Dumnezeu, o doamnă catolică al cărui soţ s-a sinucis vara trecută, o familie cu probleme disciplinare în biserică, o tânără care cu 2 săptămâni înainte se hotărâse să renunţe la ţigări, şi un alt cuplu care trecea printr-o perioadă de depresie spirituală. Am cerut un grup? Dumnezeu ni l-a dat? Dar ce grup! Şi aici era problema mea. Până ieri m-am frământat mereu cu gânduri de îndoială … oare-i voi putea ajuta pe aceşti oameni în problemele lor? Gânduri de teamă … nu văd cum voi putea purta poverile lor. Gânduri de eşec … între ei sunt oameni care au păcătuit mult, au fost răniţi adânc de păcat, unii sunt înlănţuiţi pur şi simplu de trecutul lor cicatrizat. Oare vor reuşi ei să se elibereze de păcat? Mă tem de eşec, sunt slab, nu cred că am puterea să-i ajut!

Asta până ieri!

Azi totul s-a schimbat. Pe neaşteptate. Dumnezeu mi-a vorbit. De fapt m-a dus să văd cu ochii, să aud cu urechile, să pipăi cu mâinile, fiindcă mintea mea nu ar fi putut pricepe altfel. Şi nu oriunde ci în locul caracteristic revelaţiilor sale: Ierusalim, Israel. Aşa cum pe Ieremia l-a dus în casa olarului să-i vorbească, aşa pe mine m-a pus faţă în faţă cu un teasc, unul special, o presă de măsline. Şi acolo m-a învăţat o lecţie pe care nu o voi uita întreaga viaţă. Vreau să ţi-o împărtăşesc.

În fiecare toamnă, odată cu strângerea roadelor, măslinele erau şi ele culese şi duse în coşuri la presa/teascul de măsline. Acolo, după ce erau încălzite, erau trecute prin trei procedee importante.

1. Zdrobirea. Pe o platformă rotundă de piatră, aproximativ de mărimea unei mese destul de largi, măslinele erau golite din coşuri. Acolo, cu grija erau adunate să intre în scobitura sau canalul în canalul scobit în piatră, de jur împrejurul marginii interioare ale acelei platforme. Peste măslinele din canalul scobit în piatră urma să treacă o piatră mare de moară, cu un diametru de cel putin 1 metru, care cântarea peste 100 de kg. Piatra era conectată la un ax central şi se rotea cu ajutorul unor mânere lungi împinse de mai multe persoane, sau de animale. Piatra aceea trecea de zeci de ori peste măsline, trebuind să le strivească, să le zdrobească în întregime.

2. Stoarcerea. Măslinele zdrobite erau culese şi puse în coşuri de nuiele cu capac, toate de aceeaşi mărime. Coşurile erau adunate şi puse unul peste altul într-o altă presă, diferită de prima. Săpat în stâncă, pe verticală era un canal cât să intre coş peste coş. Deasupra acelui canal trecea o bârnă groasă de lemn, de care erau atârnate pietre mari de cel peste 250 kg fiecare, care erau ridicate şi coborâte cu ajutorul unor scripeţi (vezi imaginea alăturată). Bârna aceea strivea coşurile de nuiele sub greutatea pietrelor, şi astfel storcea tot uleiul din măslinele zdrobite. Stoarcerea se făcea de câteva ori, punându-se tot mai multă presiune pe bârnă, până ce nu mai rămânea ulei de stors.

3. Strângerea. Sub acel canal vertical săpat în stâncă unde erau aşezare coşurile cu măslinele zdrobite, era o gaură special pregătită pentru a încăpea un vas. În astfel de vase se strângea uleiul produs prin zdrobirea şi apoi stoarcerea măslinelor. Uleiul obţinut după prima stoarcere era cel mai important, de cea mai bună calitate – uleiul de măsline „virgin” folosit de preoţi în Templu pentru a aprinde Manora (Sfeşnicul cu 7 braţe). Acelaşi ulei este folosit în medicină pentru a vindeca răni, în cosmetică pentru menţinerea tenului, în reţetele culinare pentru cele mai deosebite mâncăruri evreieşti, şi chiar în ritualurile spirituale pentru sfinţire sau ungere.

Procesul producerii uleiului de măsline dura 24 de ore şi avea şi conotaţii spirituale puternice, de aceea rabinii cereau un ritual de purificare a persoanelor implicate în procesul de producţie. Descoperirile arheologice au adus la suprafaţă încăperi ataşate de locul presei de măsline, folosite pentru îmbăierile ritualice cerute în credinţa iudaică. De aceea, până în ziua de azi evreii ortodocşi, indiferent unde s-ar afla în lume, nu folosesc ulei de măsline, decât cel produs în Israel – ulei „curat,” „sfinţit,” „neîntinat.”

Astăzi Dumnezeu mi-a vorbit prin imaginea aceasta, a teascului, a presei de măsline. Dar înainte de a-ţi spune cum, te rog fii atent la un detaliu foarte important. Cuvântul în ebraică care descrie presa de măsline este gaţ-shanim, un cuvânt compus format din GAT = presa, si SHMANIM = ulei. Transliteraţia lui în Biblia în limba română este cuvântul Gheţimani. Îţi spune ceva acest cuvânt? Numele Grădinii GHEŢIMANI provine de aici, nu este doar o grădină de măslini, ci o grădină a „presei/teascului de măsline.”

Atunci când Dumnezeu vrea să-ţi vorbească, El te duce exact acolo unde ştie că-l vei înţelege cel mai bine. Oare din coincidenta, azi când ştia că voi vizita presa de măsline, Dumnezeu m-a dus să văd grădina Gheţimani? Ieri şi azi – două lucruri care se leagă extraordinar! Ieri am văzut, azi am înţeles. Nu doar terminologia, ci şi semnificaţia, ceva ce m-a atins profund în suflet, şi în frământarea mea… Stând în faţa gheţimanului, a presei de măsline, parcă năframa mi-a căzut de pe ochi, mi s-au înmuiat picioarele, inima a început să-mi palpite fiindcă am realizat ceva, am auzit ceva: Dumnezeu a început să-mi vorbească. O voce îmi şoptea în timp ce priveam roata zdrobirii: „Dar El era străpuns pentru păcatele noastre, zdrobit pentru fărădelegile noastre. Pedeapsa, care ne dă pacea, a căzut peste El şi prin rănile Lui suntem tămăduiţi.”

A trebuit să fie zdrobit, stors prin apăsare, strivit fără milă, ca mai apoi din rodul suferinţelor lui să vină vindecarea! Atât a fost de apăsat de povara păcatelor noastre încât, la un moment dat, sudoarea i s-a prefăcut în sânge. Rodul zdrobirii, uleiul virgin vindecător, cel mai de preţ lucru, singurul care vindecă păcatele, alină rănile, şterge fărădelegea! Şi nu doar atât, ci ascultând explicaţiile ghidului, neuronii mei începeau să facă conexiuni – El, cel mai curat om, nepătat de păcat, sfinţit de Dumnezeu, El, care nu avea nevoie de nici un ritual, a fost pus în presa pedepsei divine. Şi totul într-o perioadă de timp de aproximativ 24 de ore, de joi seara până vineri seara, exact timpul necesar strivirii, stoarcerii şi mai apoi strângerii rodului zdrobirii măslinelor. De la Gheţimani la Golgota – iată experienţa zdrobirii, stoarcerii, strângerii rodului vindecător, a sângelui iertător, a sângelui răscumpărător, singurul care poate curăţa păcatele.

A trebuit să ies din locul acela şi să mă aşez. Dumnezeu mi-a vorbit! Să fi fost doar o coincidenţă toate acestea, o născocire a minţii mele? Eu nu cred. Fiindcă Dumnezeu nu s-a oprit doar la atât. Deşi departe de casă, deşi desprins de gândurile legate de grupul meu mic, totuşi, aici şi acum Dumnezeu mi-a readus aminte de frământările şi întrebările mele. Aici în faţa presei de măsline, în Gheţimani … şi mi-a dat cel puţin 3 răspunsuri clare.

De ce laşi ca îndoiala să-ţi cuprindă inima Cristi, de ce te frămânţi cum să-i poţi ajuta pe aceşti oameni în problemele lor? Puterea, ajutorul nu stă-n tine. Puterea, ajutorul tău şi al lor, trebuie să fie în Hristos, în Cel care prin moartea Lui, prin zdrobirea Lui, a distrus puterea celui rău (Evrei 2:14). Nu stă în puterile tale, stă în puterile Lui! Tu poţi totul „în Hristos care te întăreşte.” El e singurul care te va ajuta şi singurul care-i va ajuta. Puterea e numai în El!

De ce ai gânduri de teamă, de ce te frămânţi cum să le porţi poverile? Tu nu vei putea, dar Hristos care trăieşte în tine şi în ei le va purta. „El suferinţele noastre le-a purtat şi durerile noastre le-a luat asupra Lui” de aceea El vă cheamă „Veniţi la Mine, toţi cei trudiţi şi împovăraţi…” Ai uitat aceste vorbe? Sunt ale lui Isus! Dă-i Lui poverile, grijile tale şi ale lor. El le-a purtat şi le va purta.

De ce ai gânduri legate de un posibil eşec? Într-adevăr sunt între ei oameni care au păcătuit mult, au fost răniţi adânc de păcat, unii înlănţuiţi pur si simplu de trecutul lor şi vor eliberare. Tu crezi ca TU îi vei putea elibera? Ai dreptate: tu niciodată nu vei reuşi, dar El, Isus, va putea. Fiindcă „El a fost luat prin apăsare şi judecată (…) şters de pe pământul celor vii şi lovit de moarte pentru păcatele poporului. (…) Pe El, “Domnul a găsit cu cale să-L zdrobească prin suferinţă,” fiindcă „şi-a dat viaţa ca jertfă pentru păcat.” Adu-ţi aminte că numai „în El avem răscumpărarea, prin sângele Lui, iertarea păcatelor.” El îi va putea ierta, schimba, elibera – NUMAI EL – şi îi poate pune într-o stare după Voia lui Dumnezeu, aşa cum îşi doresc şi ei şi îţi doreşti şi tu. „Robul Meu cel neprihănit va pune pe mulţi oameni într-o stare după voia lui Dumnezeu şi va lua asupra Lui povara nelegiuirilor lor.” Cristi, ai uitat Isaia 53? Reciteşte-l încă o dată, chiar aici în Gheţimani, aici unde simţi şi vezi zdrobirea, stoarcerea şi rodul! Isus a trecut pe aici tocmai pentru ca prin rodul suferinţelor Lui tu şi cei din grupul tău să aveţi nădejde. Crede şi vei vedea!

Întâlnirea mea cu Dumnezeu în tescul de măsline m-a readus la realitate. M-a făcut să văd Gheţimaniul altfel. M-a făcut să-mi văd lucrarea altfel. M-a făcut să înţeleg chinul şi rodul suferinţelor Lui altfel. Şi să am speranţă. Şi credinţă. O lecţie pe care niciodată nu o voi uita!

Cristian Barbosu

Ierusalim, Israel

 

Let Your Conscience Be your Guide? Not Exactly, by Ben Witherington

from 2005 Bible and Culture Blog

I am in the process of working on a commentary on the Pastorals and the Johannine Epistles both in one volume. While dealing with the latter I was looking at 1 Jn. 3.19-20 today — “This is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence, whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and God knows everything.”

I came across a wonderful passage in a commentary by William Loader on the Johannine Epistles (pp. 43-44) on this text where he stresses that the writer of 1 John….

“assumes conscience [or heart] may deceive in much the same way as feelings may deceive. Faith means trusting in God’s love and making ourselves available for its action despite what we may feel. Faith cannot be based on feelings. Nor should its criterion of authenticity be absence of struggle. A troubled conscience or mind may coexist with a life of faith. By shifting the basis for confidence from human feelings and inner harmony to hard faith facts about God and behaviour, the author is boycotting a common religious trend, then and now, to make inner human experiences the criteria of spirituality…. It would [also] be wrong to read this passage as devaluing conscience or our thoughts and feelings altogether. They may be a guide, but their quality as guide will be determined by the quality of person who is being guided. The author is not operating with an idealistic notion of conscience as somehow representing the voice of God within….He operates rather with the notion that our thoughts and feelings are part of our own system of awareness which may be misinformed and misguided. There is also a touch of realism in the author’s obvious appreciation that Christians may well at times have to struggle with unresolved tensions within their personalities which have their origin somewhere other than God. There is a profound comfort in the assurance that God is greater than our conscience and knows all (3.20), because this God is the God of love and compassion and may be trusted.”

This passage has many insights to be contemplated but I will share just three:

1) a troubled conscience may at times be a good thing (a sign that one is deeply concerned about an injustice), it may at times be a bad thing (a sign of something done wrong), but it is not an infallible thing. The Bible never suggests— “let your conscience be your guide” or “to your own heart be true”. The problem with this sort of advice is that our hearts or minds or consciences are just as fallen and prone to error as our feelings.

2) There are times when persons struggle with being sure they are Christians. They wrestle with feelings of not being good enough, and the like. This text should be a great comfort. God has the trump card— he can over-rule your feelings or tender conscience and reassure you that you are in right relationship with God even if it does not feel that way;

3)the quality of the conscience depends on the character of the person in whom it resides, and just how sanctified that person truly is. Sometimes mass murderers sleep just fine at night, with no qualms of conscience. Sometimes some Christians have a weak conscience, and find offense in any little thing. Notice how Paul says that the overly scrupulous person in 1 Cor. 8-10 is the Christian who is weak in faith. In either case the conscience is not a good barometer of the truth or what is right. This is why at the end of the day the author of 1 John stresses that we must trust God and place our trust in the Gospel message, not trust ourselves as the last arbiters of truth, right, “and the godly way” and finally

4) the Pauline rule, whatever is not of faith, is sin for you, is a good one, when one is wrestling with one’s conscience. As faulty as the conscience may be, it is sometimes a good nagging voice that approves or disapproves what you are contemplating doing. You should listen to the voice, but not give it the final say. That belongs to God and God’s Word.

Read more:
  1. Jesus, Canon and Theology   (Witherington, Darrel Bock,Dan Wallace video lecture)
  2. What’s News about Jesus   (Witherington, Darrel Bock, Dan Wallace         video lecture)
  3. Ben Witherington on Luke 18:1-14 – The nature of Prayer
  4. Ben Witherington – The truth Structure and a Poem
  5. Ben Witherington – Claude Galen quote

De ce intirzie trezirea de Leonard Ravenhill (Top carte – essential reading)

Biografia lui Leonard RavenhillBiografia prietenului sau A.W.Tozer

traducere de Valentin Popovici.

Cuprins:
Cuvântul traducătorului
Cuvânt înainte
16.„Dă-mi copii, sau mor!”
17.„Gunoiul lumii acesteia”
18. Rugăciuni cât Dumnezeu de mari!
19.După cum e Biserica, aşa e şi societatea!
20. Cunoscut în iad
Daca doriti click pe linkul de sub panou sa cititi cartea direct de la Scribd (scrisul e mai mare) sau puteti sa faceti click pe FULL SCREEN si va aparea pe ecranul calculatorului (ca sa iesiti/reveniti  faceti click pe esc-deasupra numarului 1 pe keyboard)
View this document on Scribd

Elijah by Leonard Ravenhill (full sermon)

Elijah by Leonard Ravenhill1:15 hrs.Ravenhill speaks on the prophet Elijah and about revival relating to Elijah as a type.

Leonard Ravenhill is a straightforward preacher who told it as the Spirit showed him. The sermon is about 1 1/4 hrs, so make time to listen to it. It is very worthwhile.

Other Leonard Ravenhill articles (in English):

  1. Biography
  2. Man of God
  3. Are we longing for repentance?
  4. Repentance
  5. Short video – Street preachers featuring Ravenhill, Tozer, Wilkerson
  6. Short video – Are we jealous for God’s glory?

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Elijah by Leonard Ravenhill, posted with vodpod

 

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