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I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio

Martin Luther's Position on Intrepretation of Scripure of Free Will part one

This week I again entered into a post about Free Choice, or free will.  And there are so many in the church today (pastor/teacher/preachers) that hold the same position as Erasmus did
Lucas Cranach d.Ä. - Martin Luther, 1528 (Veste Coburg) (cropped).jpg
Of course many of my preacher friends will just blow off anything that Luther says. That is to their demised. I have heard that for 50 years. 
I just don't take comments like that, I take it with a grain of salt.  I do the research and I do the study and learn the truth. 
I could just have said John MacArthur and they would say the same thing.
As a matter of fact any person who holds a different position they are not going to agree with.
But I could without question agree with the position that Luther, Calvin, MacArthur, Pink. and many others hold.
Martin Luther born in Eisleben, Saxomy in 1483 died in 1548 at 62 years of age. 
Luther's chief reason for writing is, as he tells us, that Christian truth is in danger in many hearts.
As such, his reason is chiefly polemical. In his book, Luther takes Erasmus to task, and systematically refutes the humanist's theology bit by bit. He begins by taking to task Erasmus' theology in his own words, showing the inconsistencies of his own language and theology. In the process Luther confesses that, in contending with Erasmus, he has become more sure about his own position. He says,
I owe you no small thanks, for you have made me far more sure of my own position by letting me see the case for free choice put forward with all the energy of so distinguished and powerful a mind.
This is striking because here we see that the truths of the Reformation were not developed in an ivory tower. Rather, truth is always developed in the crucible of real controversy. It is not developed in isolation, but is always developed on the battlefield where heresies rage in fury against the truth.
After Luther tears down Erasmus' arguments, he positively sets forth the Reformation doctrine of free will as it is found in the Scriptures.
As such, his purpose is also instructional, hoping also that in this way Erasmus himself might be brought to a correct understanding of the truth. In concluding his Introduction, Luther writes,
Therefore we must pray to God that he may open my mouth and your heart, and the hearts of all men, and that he may himself be present in our midst as the master who informs both our speaking and hearing.
We bring this out because often it is said that Luther is a man who is so aggressive in his polemics that he forgets the welfare of his opponents. But here we see him defending the truth in love. His desire is that his opponent might come to a better understanding of the truth.

Luther's Approach
Luther begins his reply to Erasmus by calling attention to the importance of doctrine.
Erasmus has made the statement that doctrinal assertions are not important. Erasmus' preference is a position of no position; that is, doctrinal neutrality and uncertainty.
However, in the world of theology, there is no such thing as neutrality and uncertainty. Either one admits that truth is absolute and stands for it or he is against it.
 Luther correctly points out that Erasmus, in rejecting the doctrinal assertions in the Scriptures, is really taking sides with the Sophists. This is a lesson that must be learned. Why is it that Luther, with the other Reformers, insisted on the importance of doctrine?
This is because religion is not a mere matter of opinion. God has revealed His truth in the Scriptures. The Scriptures define for us what we must believe. Luther says,
  • The Holy Spirit is no Skeptic, and the things He has written in our hearts are not doubts or opinions, but assertions - surer and more certain than sense and life itself.
This of course boils down to the fact that Erasmus does not subscribe to the doctrine of the sufficiency and perspicuity of Scripture.
  • Erasmus stands in the Roman Catholic tradition of holding both Scripture and traditions as authoritative. But still, both are not enough for him. As a humanist scholar, he is compelled by his own system to include also human reason and philosophies. This precisely is Erasmus' problem. It is strange that the man who gives us the Greek New Testament should turn his mind and heart against the doctrines contained in it. In writing in defense of free will, Erasmus refused to submit himself to Scripture. And it is this that Luther first takes issue with. He writes,
  • Is it not enough to have submitted your judgment to Scripture? Do you submit it to the Church as well? - why, what can the Church settle that Scripture did not settle first?
Hence, Luther, when he takes the humanist to task, begins with a positive setting forth of the doctrine of Scripture.
One of the Reformation's mottos is Sola Scriptura, that is, Scripture alone.
Scripture must be our sole authority in matters of doctrine and life.
  • As such, the issue between Luther and Erasmus is really between truth and error, reason and grace, and an issue of belief and unbelief.
Secondly, Luther's approach is exegetical.
  • He says several times that the issue is an issue in hermeneutics. He accuses Erasmus of twisting Scripture, and wresting the Word to his own destruction.
  • Erasmus is man-centered both in his theology and in his method. is utterly man-centered.
  • Erasmus even remarked that Scripture has not dealt at length with the issue of free choice and seems to have left the issue open. He admits that Scripture is obscure about the matter. Erasmus in fact makes a strange classification of matters between that which may be known and that which may not be known.
Luther rejects Erasmus' moderation. He insists on definite doctrinal assertions.
This is because Scripture is itself clear. Here again we are back to the issue of Scripture.
This doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture is clear.
A list of helps how one may elicit the true sense of Scripture.
  1. The first rule he lays down is the most fundamental principle in hermeneutics, that is, Scripture interprets Scripture.
  2. Secondly, he insists that the way to know the Scriptures is to have our minds opened by Christ.
  3. Along with this, too, he asserts that the Spirit is required for the understanding of the Scriptures. Not only is the truth of the Word made clear in our hearts by the Spirit, but  that truths are made known in the preaching.
  4. The former he calls internal clarity, the latter he calls external clarity
Erasmus omits both of these principles in interpretation.
  1. He fails to interpret Scripture from Scripture;
  2. he lacks a spiritual mind;
  3. and therefore both his approach and theology are really Christless.