It’s Free Friday and today’s free download, usually $4.95, is Concerning Christian Liberty by Martin Luther. Click here to download.
In brief, trust not in any who exalt you, but in those who humiliate you. For this is the judgment of God: “He hath cast down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.” See how unlike Christ was to His successors, though all will have it that they are His vicars. I fear that in truth very many of them have been in too serious a sense His vicars, for a vicar represents a prince who is absent. Now if a pontiff rules while Christ is absent and does not dwell in his heart, what else is he but a vicar of Christ? And then what is that Church but a multitude without Christ? What indeed is such a vicar but Antichrist and an idol? How much more rightly did the Apostles speak, who call themselves servants of a present Christ, not the vicars of an absent one!
Concerning Christian Liberty is a remarkable treatise, and one of the most powerful and concise presentations of Christian life. This work is the quintessence of the spirit of the Reformation and a guide for practical and Biblical living.
It has sometimes been rendered into English as The Freedom of a Christian, or simply On Christian Liberty. This particular edition was translated by R.S. Grignon in 1910 and was included in the collection of books known as The Harvard Classics, edited by Charles W. Eliot (NY: P.F. Collier & Son, 1910), vol. 36, pp. 336-378.
Luther is most famous for the symbolic blow that began the Reformation when he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church on 31 October, 1517. That document contained an attack on papal abuses and the sale of indulgences by church officials.
But Luther himself saw the Reformation as something far more important than a revolt against ecclesiastical abuses. He believed it was a fight for the gospel. Luther even stated that he would have happily yielded every point of dispute to the Pope, if only the Pope had affirmed the gospel.
And at the heart of the gospel, in Luther’s estimation, was the doctrine of justification by faith—the teaching that Christ’s own righteousness is imputed to those who believe, and on that ground alone, they are accepted by God.
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