“He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity.”
It was a cold Wednesday. The harvest had been good that year and it was now stored for the winter.
Everyone was content and waiting for the first snows of the long winter.
Everyone, that is, except Martin Luther.
He had finished an extensive writing project and now walked over to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg and posted his project – the 95 Theses.
Six months later, Luther would defend his position at a meeting of the leaders of his monastic order, the Augustinians.
Formally called The Heidelberg Disputation of 1518, Luther would expand on his 95 Theses and, in doing so, set the path of the Protestant Reformation in Germany and elsewhere – a Reformation that would change the world.
It would become known as the “Theology of the Cross.” Martin Luther echoed Elihu’s words extoling the greatness of God, especially as God works through a person’s suffering, in Job 36.
Luther said, in part:
The person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty.
Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ.
It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ. [“1518 Heidelberg Disputation.” 1518 Heidelberg Disputation. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017. http://bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php]
Luther would go on to argue that if preachers and teachers led people to seek God’s grace through good works, they completely misunderstood (either ignorantly or intentionally) how God works through suffering!
He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.
A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.
That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.
The law brings the wrath of God, kills, reviles, accuses, judges, and condemns everything that is not in Christ (Rom. 4:15).
Yet that wisdom is not of itself evil, nor is the law to be evaded; but without the theology of the cross man misuses the best in the worst manner.” [1518 Heidelberg Disputation.” 1518 Heidelberg Disputation. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2017. http://bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php]
As Luther would go on to explain these points, he would describe the righteousness of Christ as “‘the countenance of Job’ (AE 31:64). God called wounded and suffering Job to intercede for his friends and avert God’s wrath (Job 42:8). In a similar way, the wounded and suffering Christ interceded for all sinners, averts God’s wrath from us, and grants us His righteousness. The Lord looked upon the diseased and battered countenance of Job and heard Job’s plea for his friends. In a similar way, when the Lord looks upon the battered face of His Son, He hears Christ’s pleas on our behalf” (taken from the article The Countenance of Job, in The Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, p 837).
3,300 years earlier, Elihu expresses much the same thought (obviously not referencing Christ, who wouldn’t be born for another 1800 years).
This tells me that this is something that is most certainly true. And since Elihu’s expressed thought is actually part of the inspired and inerrant Word of God, I think I’m on safe ground making this assertion of truthfulness!
This I need to remember when I go through bad times. When I’m suffering pain or sorrow, I must remember – or be reminded – that God is good and that he will use this suffering for my own good and for his glory.
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