Martin Luther: Rediscovering the Gospel and Reforming the Church (A Biographical Sermon)
As we gathered at church this Reformation Sunday, we did so with the fruits of the Reformation still impacting our lives. From the Bibles in our laps (or on our phones) to the message justification by faith alone in Christ alone, we who know the true gospel of grace are, in so many ways indebted to the men and women of the Reformation. Through their suffering, couple with the faithful who have gone before and after them, we have received an incredible heritage.
Accordingly, it is appropriate to spend time learning from their example. Indeed, it is even biblical. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember those who taught you the word of God, consider the outcome of their lives, and imitate their faith.” This morning, that is what our church did, setting our series of Ephesians aside for one week, in order to remember the life of Martin Luther and to learn from his faith.
Indeed, any study of Martin Luther requires a specific topic. His writing is so voluminous and his impact, not to mention his personality, is so vast, it requires any biographer to hone in on some aspect of his life. When John Piper preached a biographical sermon on Luther, he chose his relationship with God’s Word. For me, I chose to focus the church he aimed to reform with the gospel he reclaimed.
In this biographical sermon, I considered how Luther’s rediscovery of the gospel led him to fight for the purification and replanting, if you will, of the church. In truth, he never abandoned the church, but with the key of the gospel, he sought to unlock the church from its captivity to Rome. Therefore, there is much to learn from Luther about the gospel and the church, and how we can and ought to be gospel-centered churches.
To find out what we can learn from the life and legacy of Martin Luther, you can listen to the sermon online, or you can read the sermon notes. Discussion questions and additional resources are included below.
- Read Hebrews 13:7. What place does Christian biography have in the life of the church? What are some of the best biographies you have read, and why? How does knowing Luther’s story encourage you?
- Read Romans 1:16–17. What does this passage of Scripture teach? How did Luther first understand it? How did his view change? And what impact does his experience with this passage (and the whole Bible, which he surveyed by memory) teach you about wrestling with Scripture?
- Read Psalm 119:65–72. What role does suffering play in understanding and applying Scripture? Are there any passages like that in your life which you’ve wrestled and by wrestling have come to a greater understanding of God in Christ?
- Read 1 Timothy 3:14–16. What does this passage say about the church? What might the confession in verse 16 teach us about being “the pillar and buttress of truth” in verse 15?
- Read Matthew 16:18 and Matthew 18:15–20. What do these verses teach us about the church? How do the keys work? How did Luther understand them? And how might they help us understand church ordinances and church discipline?
- What other observations or encouragements come to mind as you consider the life of Martin Luther?
- Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation by Erwin Lutzer
- Here I Stand by Roland Bainton
- Luther on the Christian Life by Carl Truman
Biographical Sermons / Lectures
- Martin Luther: Lessons from His Life and Labor — a biographical sermon by Martin Luther
- Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation — Part 8 of Christianity Made Easy by Timothy Paul Jones (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
- Luther’s Reformation (an overview) — an animated lecture by Ryan Reeves
(A Few of) Luther’s Works
Soli Deo Gloria, ds
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