Thursday, October 18, 2018
Psalm 19:8-9 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
Many people try to make Martin Luther and his colleagues nothing more than a bunch of radicals with some popular opinions. This is the product of a false equivalency. Historians note that the Reformation happened during the late stages of what they call the Renaissance and at the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason). These guys were just some of many who were bucking the establishment's system, they say. They were no different from secular writers such as Dante, Erasmus, Voitare, and Da Vinci.
But the Reformers have nothing to do with the Renaissance or the Age of Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightenment was a search for enlightenment. Luther and those who believed the Bible to be the last word in truth--down to the most common layperson--were already thereby enlightened.
The Humanists of the 16th century still made much of the Bible. It was the most well-known work. But they were attempting to determine what human wisdom had to say about God, while ignoring what God had to say about humans.
Though historians are forced to make a big deal about Luther, they often put him on a lower tier among the heroes of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. While they cannot ignore his extensive knowledge of literature and philosophy, they paint him as slightly unhinged. He was more interested in teaching the peasants than he was in debating with the intelligentsia (though he did plenty of the latter). He wrote in his own language (rather than Latin), and sometimes used some rather unacademic language.
Who was it, then, that was enlightened? Luther and all who know that true enlightenment is found only in the statutes, commandments, fear, and judgments of the Lord. Let's break that down and apply it to ourselves:
The statutes of the Lord--What God ordains is always good. He has ordained from eternity that those who believe in Christ will have eternal life.
The commandments of the Lord--The enlightened saint sees God's law not as a tool by which he can achieve his own salvation, but as the will of God fully fulfilled by Christ who sends His Holy Spirit to His own so that every Christian is pure before the Lord.
The fear of the Lord--Not the terror of a sinner before a holy God, but humble respect for God’s unchanging will.
The judgments of the Lord--This is the best part for us. Yes, God the Father righteously judges sin, but He did so by placing all His wrath on His Son. Jesus took on our sins and paid for them so that the Father was no choice but to correctly declare us righteous.
This is true enlightenment which cannot be found by any human endeavor, but it is revealed to us by our gracious Father. Therefore we believe and rejoice.