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500 Years Ago In July

Category Articles
Date July 22, 2005


Martin Luther was born on November 10th, 1483. He was a young man of great abilities so his poor father put him to the study of law, intending him to be a lawyer. And he might very well have been a lawyer were it not that on July 2 in the year 1505 he was very nearly killed by a thunderbolt that struck him to the ground during a terrifying thunderstorm. He was terrified, and he prayed saying, “Help me St. Anne!” He was a Roman Catholic remember so he prayed, “Help me St. Anne! and I will become a monk.” He came face to face with death, and he was not ready for it. He was terrified and convicted deeply, and he never forgot it. In a sense the Protestant Reformation starts with a thunderbolt!

You remember the story of the conversion of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16 and the part played in it by an earthquake! You know, my friends, when the world becomes so mad that it will not listen to the preaching of the gospel, God has got other ways of calling attention to the truth. A thunderbolt or an earthquake! What will this generation, to which you and I belong, have to meet I wonder? But let us take heart, brethren; whatever they may do with us as preachers, God reigns and He rules the thunder and the lightning and the storms and the wind. This man was struck to the ground, and the great process of reformation began as the result of a thunderbolt.

The result of this was that he became a monk and entered an Augustinian monastery at Erfurt on July 17 1505. It is right to praise famous men. There is a kind of piety that seems to think that this is wrong. I dissent from that completely. Martin Luther is worth looking at. Would that there were more like him at the present time. God uses men. Do not forget that. He produces the men, as I am going to show you, and they are very wonderful men. Luther was a wonderful man, and it is worth our while to have a look at him for a moment. He was an outstanding genius. There is no other word that can describe him. He was not only able, he was a genius.

The next thing that strikes us about him is his honesty, his scrupulous honesty, then, his amazing courage. There are those who say-and I think they are quite right-that if he had not been led along the way he was by God he probably would have been one of the great musicians of all time. He certainly was very fond of music. He was not very interested in art, but he was passionately fond of music, and he could compose music, as you know. The only word I find that is adequate to describe this man is this-he was a volcano. He was a great mountain of a man, but he was a mountain on fire; and he erupted and threw out the most precious things. It is true to add that he also threw out a lot of dross. It is right as I say to look at men, but when we do so truly, and when we face all the facts, we see that the best men are fallible. But he was God’s man for this occasion and therefore the right man.

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones “Luther and His Message for Today” BEC, 1968.

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