Words of Hope…
A desire to find peace with God led Martin Luther to devote himself to a monk’s life. As part of this, he was required to do the lowest jobs and to beg from house to house. He patiently endured this humiliation, believing it was necessary because of his sins.
He led a very strict life, trying to subdue the evils of his nature by fasting, vigils, and whippings. Later he said, “If ever a monk could gain heaven by his monkish works, I would certainly have been entitled to it…. If it had continued much longer, I would have carried my self-denial even to death.”1 With all his efforts, his burdened heart found no relief. Finally he was driven nearly to despair.
When it seemed that all hope was gone, God raised up a friend for him. Staupitz opened the Word of God to Luther’s mind and urged him to look away from self and look to Jesus. “Instead of torturing yourself because of your sins, throw yourself into the Redeemer’s arms. Trust in Him, in the righteousness of His life, in the atonement of His death…. The Son of God … became man to give you the assurance of God’s favor…. Love Him who first loved you.”2 His words made a deep impression on Luther’s mind. Peace came to his troubled heart.
Later, Luther spoke from the pulpit in solemn warning. He told the people how offensive sin is to God and how impossible it is for anyone by his own works to reduce its guilt or avoid its punishment. Nothing but repentance toward God and faith in Christ can save the sinner. The grace of Christ cannot be purchased—it is a free gift. He counseled the people not to buy indulgences but to look in faith to a crucified Redeemer. He told about his own painful experience and assured his hearers that it was by believing in Christ that he found peace and joy.
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Source: Ellen G. White, The Great Hope, pp. 47-48
1 J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, bk. 2, ch. 3.
2 Ibid., book 2, ch. 4.