Ligonier Ministries Blog

The official blog of Ligonier Ministries, founded by theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul in 1971 to help Christians know what they believe, why the believe it, how to live it, and how to share it.
  1. To be excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church is to be told that your soul is damned to hell. In this brief clip, Stephen Nichols explains how Martin Luther responded to his excommunication.

    This Reformation Month, watch a short video every day on the history and insights of the Protestant Reformation. And don't forget that for this month only, you can request your free digital download of R.C. Sproul’s video teaching series Luther and the Reformation plus the ebook edition of The Legacy of Luther, edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols at ligm.in/Reformation. Offer ends October 31, 2019.

    Transcript

    My favorite response from the Roman Catholic Church to Luther’s posting of the Ninety-Five Theses was Pope Leo X’s first response. When a copy of the theses finally made its way to him down in the Vatican, Leo X quipped, “Ah, the ramblings of a drunken German monk. He’ll think differently when he sobers up.” I think Leo X significantly underestimated what he was dealing with in this German monk. On the one hand, Luther never sobered up. This was only the beginning of the challenge between Luther and his church. From the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses until April of 1521 at Worms, there was one singular movement, and it ended with that decisive action of excommunicating Luther.

    We need to remember what this means. This is a moment in time when to be outside of the Roman Catholic Church meant that you are outside of salvation. The Roman Catholic Church at this time believed that it held the keys to the kingdom. Literally, when Christ said to Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church,” that was taken as Christ giving the keys of heaven to Peter. Then, as Roman Catholic doctrine understands it through Apostolic succession, Leo X was now the holder of the keys. That decision to excommunicate Luther meant nothing short of saying we are condemning you. We are saying that your soul is damned to hell.

    That was the result of the Ninety-Five Theses. That’s how the Roman Catholic Church fundamentally responded to Luther. How did Luther respond? “Well, you’re not the true church. You’ve abandoned your calling as the church. The true church is the church that preaches the Word of God—that preaches the gospel. And the true church is the church that exercises the sacraments aright and according to the Word of God.”

  2. Faith comes by hearing God's promises. In this brief clip, W. Robert Godfrey explains what John Calvin taught about faith, knowledge, and gospel preaching.

    This Reformation Month, watch a short video every day on the history and insights of the Protestant Reformation. And don't forget that for this month only, you can request your free digital download of R.C. Sproul’s video teaching series Luther and the Reformation plus the ebook edition of The Legacy of Luther, edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols at ligm.in/Reformation. Offer ends October 31, 2019.

     

    Transcript

    Calvin wanted to say to his people, 'faith is knowledge.' In order to believe, you have to know something. Faith is not just an emotion; faith has content. And for Calvin, the stress of the content was always the promises of God. It's the preaching of the gospel that works faith. The preaching of law is necessary. It's necessary to bring us to repentance. It's necessary to guide us in the Christian life but the preaching of the law does not bring faith. Faith comes from hearing the promises of the gospel. That's very much the spirit of John Calvin. Faith is knowledge, knowledge particularly of the promises of the gospel, knowledge particularly of God's will to save us in Jesus Christ.

  3. In this brief clip from his teaching series A Survey of Church History, W. Robert Godfrey examines the event that changed Martin Luther's life. Watch the entire message for free today.

    Transcript

    Martin Luther later in his life would look back and say, “I came to this evangelical breakthrough.” And now the psychologist love it that he says, “I came to the evangelical breakthrough while sitting on the toilet.” Freudians have had a ball with that. What serious historians have noted is that actually there was no toilet where he said he was sitting and that in the idiom of that day, “Sitting on the toilet” meant being depressed, being melancholy, being down, down in the dumps. It's not about a location. It's about a spiritual state and Luther says, “I was really depressed about the state of my soul,” not depressed in a technical, psychological way. “I was sad. I was distressed about the state of my soul and in that state I began to think. If God is alive, I am dead.” He said, “I came to hate God because all I saw was a God of judgment.” He said especially the phrase “The righteousness of God filled me with fear and hatred. How could I ever measure up to a righteous God?” But now, his mind filled with Scripture. It suddenly all fell into place. He said, “It was like the gates of Paradise had open to me and I realized that what God’s talking about in the Bible is not the righteousness He demands of me but the righteousness He gives to me in Jesus Christ” and that's what changed Luther’s whole world. That's what made him a Protestant and I think that happened probably early in 1518 and turned Luther's whole life around.

  4. We do not need to be hostile in order to make sound arguments for the truth. From one of our Ask R.C. events, R.C. Sproul encourages us to clearly present the truth of Scripture without being mean-spirited.

    To get real-time answers to your biblical and theological questions, just Ask.Ligonier.org.

  5. The Reformers were not turning their backs on the church, but recovering its true teachings. In this brief clip, Sinclair Ferguson looks at the authority and clarity of Scripture.

    This Reformation Month, watch a short video every day on the history and insights of the Protestant Reformation. And don't forget that for this month only, you can request your free digital download of R.C. Sproul’s video teaching series Luther and the Reformation plus the ebook edition of The Legacy of Luther, edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols at ligm.in/Reformation. Offer ends October 31, 2019.

    Transcript

    You know one of the things particularly Calvin emphasized was—we are being accused of disrupting the traditions of the fathers. The problem is you men do not know the traditions of the fathers.

    The Reformers view was not—we are turning our backs on the communion of the church. The Reformers view was—we’re actually recovering the core teaching of the communion of the church. The safeguard is that we read Scripture in the light of Scripture, using Scriptural principles to interpret Scripture. We shouldn’t be blindsided by these picky notions that are eating away at our confidence in Scripture and especially in its clarity. Because that is an area that is so often under attack today.